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Merseyside hunt for DNA link to double wife killer.

Byline: John Sutton

A MERSEYSIDER may hold the key to identifying the remains of one of the world's most notorious outlaws.

Forensic scientists in Melbourne, Australia, have what could be the skull of Ned Kelly - but it could also be the skull of Frederick Deeming, a Briton who murdered his wife and four children in Merseyside before fleeing Down Under.

There, he murdered his second wife on Christmas Eve. Deeming's crimes were so horrendous he was even suspected of being London serial killer Jack the Ripper.

It is hoped descendants of Deeming, who had 11 siblings, may still live on Merseyside and can provide a DNA sample to see if it matches that of the skull, and solve the mystery once and for all.

Kelly, executed in 1880, and Deeming, hanged in 1892, were buried alongside each other in Old Melbourne Gaol.

Deeming, who was 38 when he was executed, was born in Leicestershire and was a habitual criminal. In the 1880s he moved to Australia, but came back to his wife, Marie, in 1888. It is believed the couple and their family lived for a time in Birkenhead.

After a spell in prison for a swindle in a jewellery shop, Deeming rejoined his family, now in Rainhill, in July, 1891, and rented a house under the name of Albert Williams.

While there, he wooed another woman, an Emily Mather, and the pair emigrated to Australia, in November, 1891.

Deeming murdered Emily in Melbourne on Christmas Eve, and went on the run to Perth. He was caught in March, when Emily's body was found. It was at this time the grim discovery of his murdered first wife and their children was made back in Rainhill - it is thought they had lain undiscovered for at least eight months.

The story made international headlines. A look back through the Daily Post archives, to mid-March, 1892, shows how we reported the story at the time.

"An extraordinary ferment is at present prevailing at Rainhill", said one report. Another talked of "Horror heaped on horror" as the bodies of the children, aged between 18 months and nine were discovered. Their throats had been cut.

Deeming was convicted of murder following a trial at Melbourne Supreme Court, in April, 1892, and hanged in the city's gaol on May 23.

The Victorian Institute of Forensic Medicine is trying to identify the skull, which they have narrowed down to belonging to Deeming or Ned Kelly.

Deb Withers, a spokesman for the institute, said: "Our quest now is to find a Deeming descendant so we can test for DNA and confirm who this skull belongs to.

"Our British genealogist has researched the Deeming family and many of them appear to have remained in Liverpool and Birkenhead, so we're hoping anyone from the area can help us solve this mystery.

"Deeming had 10 siblings so we think there must be someone out there, and as it is only going back a few generations it's not such a long shot. It's just difficult finding the right person or someone who can lead us to the right person."

The DNA test is painless and can take place here in the UK when one of the research team is due over in the coming weeks.

Following the publicity surrounding the trial, some of Deeming's siblings changed their name to Bailey, their mother's maiden name, so they would not be tainted by association with their brother.

* IF YOU think you may be able to help solve the mystery, please contact John Sutton on 0151 472 2491 or email


Frederick Deeming, left, and with his wife, Marie, above, whom he murdered along with their children, before fleeing to Australia
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Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Geographic Code:8AUST
Date:Dec 29, 2010
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