1928. Over a period of a year, three members of the same
family -- a retired colonial administrator, his wife's
sister and his wife's mother -- were poisoned in their
homes. The murderer must have been one of the family,
but no one was ever charged.
1928, First in the series of victims was Edmund
Creighton Duff, aged 59, the son-in-law of elderly Violet
Returning to his
Croydon home on after a fishing holiday, Duff complained of
nausea and leg cramps after eating his supper.
1928, His condition had got worse overnight, and he was
An autopsy was
inconclusive, his death was attributed to unknown
1929, Ten months later, Vera Sydney, Violet's 40 year
old daughter, remarked on feeling "seedy" after lunch.
The cook, her
mother and the family cat all suffered after sharing in the
meal, but they recovered, whereas Vera steadily declined.
1929, She died, after hours of cramps and vomiting,
which her physician blamed on "gastric influenza."
1929, Violet Sydney was the last to die, falling ill
medical care for her bereavement, she died hours later,
blaming the "gritty" tonic prescribed by her doctor.
An analysis of
the medicine showed nothing out of place, and the cause of
Violet's death remained a mystery.
1929, Surviving relatives demanded an investigation, and
the female victims were exhumed, an autopsy revealing traces
of arsenic in both of the bodies.
1929, Edmund Duff was also exhumed, despite his widow's
arsenic was found, the discrepancy "explained" by a
suggestion that physicians may have analyzed organs from the
wrong corpse in 1928.
Inquests on Duff
and Vera Sydney attributed their deaths to murder by persons
unknown; in the case of Violet Sydney, there was
insufficient evidence to tell if she was murdered or had
committed suicide. In either case, the mystery remains