Mary Emsley and the Unsolvable Mile End Murder

Landlady, Miser, Paranoid, Widow

By all accounts Mary Emsley was a determined, if paranoid, woman. Collecting rents on her properties in person even at the age of 70. And yet, very cautious about the security of her house. 

Childless and business minded Mary Emsley was stern and somewhat of a curiosity to those who lived in the neighbourhood. Preferring to collect the rents herself as much as possible she would often walk long distances from her home. She owned rental properties as far as Bethnal Green and Bow. 

Mary Emsley herself lived in a small house – basement, ground floor, and first floor. With a small enclosed garden out back.

But without the advantage of modern forensics, and crime scene science, finding the perpetrator would prove far more difficult.

crime scene, evidence, mary emsley

Thursday August 17th 1860

Reported missing, the police investigated. She was found in the bedroom of her house, dead. Mary Emsley had been brutally beaten around the head and lay in a pool of blood. Holding a roll of wallpaper under each arm and with several others in the room: was she struck unawares by someone she had business with? With the doors and windows locked, and with the lateness of the day, Mrs Emsley must have known her assailant. There was also a singly bloody boot print outside the door to the room. Mary Emsley may have lain dead since late Monday evening.   

The list of suspects could have been huge, particularly with the way Mary Emsley was, and how many properties in the district she owned and rented out. But the police narrowed it down to two main possible perpetrators. Mr. Mullins and Mr. Emm. But Mr. Emm had a corroborated alibi for the night of the murder. 

The Testimony of Many

A number of people could place Mullins in the area of the crime around the time of death. Someone even claimed to have seen him throw a bloodied boot out of his window that almost matched that of the footprint left at the scene.

However, other’s claimed to have seen people in Mary Emsley’s house after the time of death. Was that the murderer taking their time cleaning up the crime so there would be less evidence pointing to them? 

Despite a distinct lack of real evidence pointing to Mr Mullins, and even with the judge unconvinced of his guilt, he was hung on November 19th 1860.

Is the Murder of Mary Emsley Finally Solved?

In his new book, Sinclair McKay May have solved the mystery of the murder of Mary Emsley. With access to far more evidence than Sir Arthur Conan Doyle would have been able to see, and a lot of research, The Mile End Murder takes you through the events surrounding the incident and beyond.

I always enjoyed reading (and watching) Sherlock Holmes stories. You can read Sir Arthur Conan Doyle account of events here. And order The Mile End Murder by Sinclair McKay by following the link below 🙂 Let me know what you think.

But if you prefer your murders a little less real but no less bloody how about reading Whispers on the Hill?