Date of Birth:
There cannot be any more
foolish place to commit a murder than right outside a
police station, but that is precisely what John Charles
Parr managed to do.
Parr and Sarah Willett had been engaged but in the summer
of 1900, she had ended the relationship. She had
discovered that Parr had been in prison for six months,
for theft. There was also the fact that he had lied about
his occupation. Parr had told her that he was a French
Polisher when in fact he was not even in regular
employment. Sarah found all these lies impossible to
accept and Parr, in his turn, found the rejection
unacceptable. He determined that drastic action was called
Two days before Sarah's death, on 24th August, Parr was in
a pub with three women friends when he referred to his
argument with Sarah. He drew a small revolver from his
jacket and said that it was his intention to kill Sarah
and himself. To further emphasise that his intentions were
serious, he then fired the gun into the street shouting;
"Instead of hearing of a marriage, you will hear of a
burial." Rather surprisingly perhaps, this matter was not
reported to the police.
On 27th August, Sarah Willett went with two girl-friends
to the Forester's Music Hall in London's East End. Parr
knew of this arrangement and turned up as well, asking
Sarah to buy him a drink. When she refused, Parr simply
picked up her glass and drained it. He then continued to
annoy the group as much as he could.
It was obvious to the three women that Parr was looking
for trouble and so, wishing to avoid a confrontation,
Sarah and her friends; Emily Samson and Kate Burgess, left
the music hall. Parr decided to follow them.
As the three girls walked down Bethnal Green Road, Parr
stopped them again and demanded to know if Sarah would
take him back. She refused, replying; "I don't want you.
All I want is an honest, hard-working fellow - not one who
robs others." She then pulled away from him and threatened
to walk into the police station which was opposite to
where they were now standing.
Parr told Sarah to go ahead and Sarah turned to do so,
whereupon Parr drew out the revolver and shot her in the
head. When a police officer ran out, on hearing the
report, he found Parr with the gun still in his hand,
shouting; "I have done it. I have done it."
When he was taken into the station for questioning, Parr
exclaimed; " It is all her own fault, and she deserves
it." Sarah was also taken into the police station in order
to receive treatment, but died minutes later.
At his trial for murder, Parr tried to rely on a defence
of insanity. Mister Biron referred to a history of madness
within Parr's family and the fact that the prisoner
himself had received a severe blow to the head, years ago,
in an accident in a gymnasium. He further contended that
the revolver, which was little more than a toy, had gone
off by accident.
The jury were not swayed, returning a guilty verdict, but
they did add a recommendation to mercy on account of
Parr's youth. Mercy
was not given, he was hanged at Newgate on 2nd October