St Helens Tragedy

Liverpool Mercury June 28th, 1913

St Helen’s tragedy

St Helens was startled in the early hours of Thurs morning by a domestic tragedy of terrible character.

A mother and her 5 yr old boy were found murdered in their lodgings, and an attempt of self-destruction on the man who committed the deed seems likely to be successful, for his injuries were so serious that recovery is doubtful.

John KERRIGAN, aged 45 yrs, a labourer, and after he had been taken to hospital, it was found that he had left a message written in chalk on the floor of the room.

Woman bad, 45 years, killed boy – too – 5 years. Drove me to it, me die too.

There were three other words, only one of which “Don’t” was decipherable.

The parties lived in Langtree St, St Helens, and for the past three weeks had lodged with Mrs FARNWORTH, who took pity on them and gave them shelter when they were turned out of their house in Back Bolton St.

KERRIGAN is spoken of as a hard working man. For some time he has complained of his wife’s drinking habits, and the tragedy appears to be the habit of his despairing frenzy and his solitude for the welfare of his boy.

Terrible knife wounds were inflicted on the throats of Mrs KERRIGAN and her son, then KERRIGAN turned the weapon on himself.

A horrified household

The tragedy was discovered at 4-15 am on Thurs, when Mr and Mrs FARNWORTH were aroused by KERRIGAN appearing on the scene with blood pouring from his neck.

They immediately called assistance and found that Mrs KERRIGAN and her son were dead.

Mrs FARNWORTH proceeded to the police station and several officers were quickly on the scene.

Dr O’KEEFFE who was called to the place states he found the woman and boy both dead, having been murdered between 3 to 3-30 am. Their injuries were very severe, their heads being almost cut off. The wounds all jagged and of a terrible nature.

From the appearance of the bodies they were both murdered in their sleep. There was no indication of a struggle.

KERRIGAN’S throat was cut from ear to ear, his windpipe severed, the knife laying bare the carotid artery and jugular vein.

A troubled husband

The bodies of the woman and child were lying on a wretched sofa under the front room window, the mother not taking the trouble to make a proper bed.

KERRIGAN had been in the workhouse hospital for some time being a chronic sufferer of bronchitis and asthma for years past.

He was at Dr O’KEEFFES surgery on Weds morning with his son, who was a pathetic under fed child. He complained to the Doctor that his wife was a drunken creature and she had been continually staying out at night drinking with other people, and she was not feeding the boy and neglecting him badly

The Doctor told him to report the matter to the police, but then telephoned them himself asking them to send the Inspector of the N.S.P.C.C, to the house.

It is stated that the words “I am a broken hearted father” were also chalked on the floor.

KERRIGAN was greatly troubled at the condition of his domestic affairs and after seeing Dr O’KEEFFE on Weds went to the police office and ascertained the address of the new Cruelty Officer, Mr MERCER, and visited his house. The Inspector was away sick, but he complained bitterly to Mrs MERCER on the state the child was in on account of his wife’s conduct.


Copyright 2002 / To date