The fact that this discovery took place in David Attenborough's garden makes it of mildly fortean-zoological interest.
A 131-year-old murder mystery solved after skull found in Sir David Attenborough's back garden
2:01pm Monday 25th October 2010
By Christine Fleming
A murder mystery dating back to the 1800s may yet be solved - thanks to wildlife enthusiast David Attenborough. The skull of a woman, believed to be Julia Martha Thomas, was discovered in the presenter's garden, in Park Road, Richmond, on Friday. Local historians now believe a murder mystery dating from 1879 could finally have been solved.
Neighbours in the street were intrigued by the grisly find and 40-year-old Marina Solin said it had peaked her interest. She said: "It would be interesting to learn a bit more about it all."
Workmen at the 84-year-old wildlife presenter's home found the skull while excavating part of the garden ready for a new extension. The land, where the extension was intended to go, was on the site of the old Hole in the Wall pub which Sir David bought last year. Police believe the human remains belong to Mrs Thomas, a former Park Road resident who was killed by her maid 131 years ago.
Katherine Webster was found guilty of killing her mistress and mutilating the body when she was sentenced in July of 1879. On the day of her execution, Webster reportedly told her priest: "I alone committed the murder of Mrs Thomas. I pushed her down stairs and strangled her." Despite her confession and the recovered mutilated remains the head of murdered Julia Thomas was never found. Now years later the mystery of where the murdered Mrs Thomas' head disappeared to may well have been solved with the skull being found just metres from her former home.
Neighbour David Porter, 64, tried to keep upbeat about the gruesome find, and joked: "It was nothing to do with me." He added: "What can you say really - it's interesting but it shows they never looked very far for the head." The spot where the discovery was made has been cordoned off and police were today still guarding the sealed site.
Police said specialists would be removing and examining the skull.