Double Murder committed by Daniel EAST at Berkhamsted, England
Daniel EAST was born in Chesham, Buckinghamshire, England on 10 Sept 1844. He was the son of Joseph EAST and Sarah POLEYKETT. On 22 July 1864 he married Ellen PLESTED at the Lower Baptist Chapel in Amersham, Buckinghamshire. They had four children, Albert b. 1865, Martha b. 1868, David b. 1874 and Frederick b. 1876.
By 1874 the family had moved to Berkhamsted, Hertfordshire but times were hard and Daniel was struggling to feed his family. In 1877 Daniel applied for parish relief but his claim was opposed by the local magistrate as he had twice convicted Daniel for public house rows. Daniel was distraught and could not see how his family would survive.
On Saturday 24 Feb 1877 Daniel took his two youngest children, David aged 3 and Frederick aged 8 months for a walk across the meadows. When he reached Pond Meadow he murdered the children by slitting their throats. He then laid the bodies next to each other and covered them with a blanket, placing a bible on top of them. Daniel then walked back to the town with the intention of murdering the magistrate who he expected to be at the petty sessions but on arrival he discovered it was not bench day, so walked instead to the police station where he gave himself up. He stated that he had murdered two of his children, handed the bloodstained knife over and told the police where the bodies could be found. The bodies were taken to the Crooked Billet public house where they awaited a coroners inquest.
Daniel was brought before the county magistrate and remanded in custody stating that he wished to be hanged immediately for his crime.
On 5 March 1877 Daniel stood trial for the murder of his children. He said he had done the deed because “he had not a bit of bread to give the five children, so he thought he would take two of them and put them out the way. He had no ill feeling against his children, but did not wish to see them come to the Union.” At the trial it became clear that Daniel had suffered with mental illness problems and had been an in-patient at the West Herts Infirmary suffering from mental derangement. The jury returned a verdict of wilful murder against him but not guilty on the grounds of insanity.
Daniel EAST was committed to the Broadmoor Criminal Lunatic Asylum in Berkshire, England where on 1 June 1911, aged 66, he died. Daniel had been in Broadmoor for a total of 34 years.