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May 10th 1924: Triple Tragedy at Witheridge

"A terrible discovery was made early on Tuesday evening when the bodies of a woman and two children were found near the fender which regulates the flow of water at the Mill. The dead were identified as being Mrs Laura Adams, aged 29, the wife of Mr Bertie S Adams, journeyman Blacksmith, of the Square, Witheridge, and her two little girls, Lorna Delphine aged three, and Algar Laura Matilda, an infant of ten months. Mr and Mrs Adams formerly lived at South Molton and came to Witheridge just over 4 years ago.

Mrs Adams was last seen alive at about 4.35pm on Tuesday evening, when she walked through the village with her children, one of whom was in a pram. Shortly after 6 o'clock, Mr Charles Maire, of Commercial House, Witheridge, the occupier of the Mill, went down to the premises and was surprised to find that the water wheel was not in motion. Thinking perhaps that some stones had interfered with the mechanism he went inside but failed to diagnose the trouble. He then examined the exterior where he found the bodies with their heads and shoulders jammed beneath the fender which controls the flow of water from the lead to the mill.

Mr Maire immediately communicated with Police Sgt West, who retrieved the bodies. The Sergeant immediately applied artificial respiration to the woman, but it was of no avail. Dr Price was summoned but he could only pronounce life to be extinct, and the bodies were removed to the Mill House. The pram was discovered in a field about a quarter of a mile from the tragedy".

At the inquest held at the Police Station, evidence was heard that there had been a history of marital disagreement, and that a note had been found in the pram. The jury found that the woman murdered her children, and then committed suicide whilst of unsound mind.

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