Fox Murder in West Australia
The West Australian Wednesday 8th February 1899 (entered by JGT 16 June 2010)
Historic Australian Newspapers, 1803 to 1954
A S Courtenay Ah Gor Ah Lee Ah Nee Alexander Fox Chinese Eliza Ann Myers eliza Ann Pantland Herman Heinrich Meier John Alexander Fox murder
THE MURDER NEAR PERTH. STATEMENT BY FOX.INTERVIEWS WITH RELATIVES.
THE POLICE AND THE AXE.
Nothing further of consequence has transpired with reference to the tragedy at Dalkeith, for although several members of the uniformed police and detective
forces have been unremittingly searching the neighbourhood of the crime for clues that may lead to the elucidation of the mystery, their labours have so far
been unrewarded. A theory that the murder was perpetrated earlier than Saturday has been advanced in certain quarters, this being based on the extent of the
putrefaction of the body of the murdered woman when discovered. Those competent to express an opinion lean to this belief, even assuming that the body lay
exposed to the hot sun for probably the whole of Saturday afternoon.
THE ARRESTED CHINESE.
The arrest of a Chinaman on the far reaching charge of vagrancy, as mentioned in the West Australian yesterday, has created a somewhat strong feeling
amongst his compatriots in the city,for though it is not openly stated that the alleged vagrant is in any way connected with the crime, his arrest at the present
juncture is somewhat in the nature of a hint that he may be connected with the crime. A representative of this paper yesterday received from Mr. Louis Waugh
who is well known as a leading member of the Chinese portion of the community,a statement as follows :-" I do not think that a Chinaman had anything to do
with the murder. To begin with,Chinese, if they had a desire for revenge against Mr.Fox for having given evidence against them and got them sent to gaol,
would not revenge themselves by being cruel to Mr. Fox's wife. Some Chinamen of course are cruel, but not to women, and I think that no Chinaman would
do such a cruel thing as to chop open a woman's head with an axe. Then there are other things. For instance,if a Chinaman had chopped the poor woman with
an axe he would be so frightened at what he had done that he would go and bury the axe or throw it in the water, and not take it back to the house, like your
paper said. Then he would not wipe the axe. He would be too excited. The police can easily find out if the Chinaman they have locked up was down at
Claremont on Saturday, and I think that if he was in town all that Saturday afternoon, there are plenty of Chinamen who will be able to say they saw him."
Ah Nee, alias Ah Lee, alias Ah Gor, the Chinese arrested on a charge of " having no visible means of support," and who was one of the three recently
convicted of fruit stealing from Gallop's garden, was brought up on the former charge at the City Police Court yesterday morning, and formally remanded for
INTERVIEW WITH ACCUSED'S BROTHER.
A reporter of the West Australian had a conversation last night with Mr. Alexander Fox, a younger brother of John Fox, who is now in custody in connection
with the murder of his wife. Mr. Alexander Fox has been in the employment of Messrs.E.C.Shenton and Co.for about nine years,and is a bright,intelligent and
popular young fellow. In the remarks which he made to our reporter it was apparent that he felt deeply the sad fate which has overtaken his brother's wife.
His brother John, he said, had from his earliest youth been of notably sober and industrious habits. When engaged in the cultivation of a piece of ground in
Fitzgerald Street,before he went into the employment of Mr.Hearman, he was accustomed to work from early morning until late at night. He was afterwards,
when engaged by Mr Hearman, a trusted employee of the latter gentleman, for whom he acted as carter. He was with with Mr. Hearman for seven years, and
was en-trusted with the keys of the store,and had full access to the shop.After leaving Mr.Hearman, which he did of his own accord, he was in the
employment of Messrs.G.K. Snowball and Co., grocers,of Hay Street, for about a year, after which he went as gardener to Mr Gallop.
Have you been with your brother since the tragedy ? asked our reporter.
"I had a long conversation with him this afternoon, when he was also visited by other of his relatives," replied Mr. Fox. "In the course of our talk he said. 'I
don't know what they are keeping me here for,as my conscience is perfectly clear before God and myself.' From what I have gathered from my brother I can
give you a full account of his movements on Saturday. A little after nine o'clock on Saturday morning he started to make preparations for going into town to
make some purchases. The girls were to accompany him, and as ten o'clock drew near Mrs.Fox said, ' Hurry up children, and don't keep father waiting, or
you will miss the train." They left the house about five minutes before ten o'clock. He kissed his wife and the children also kissed their mother, who came to
the back door and waved her hand to them as they disappeared. They caught the train at Claremont at ten minutes to eleven. My brother came to see me in
town. He was in good spirits and looked in splendid health, which made me remark to a friend, ' Isn't Jack looking well ?' "
" My brother caught the 2 o'clock train from Perth, which arrives at Claremont half an hour later. When he got home he found that his wife was absent. The
matter at first caused him no uneasiness. He sent the children, who had accompanied him home, to look for her in and about the house, but they failed to find
her. My brother and his wife had been on friendly terms with Mr. and Mrs.K.Matthews, who occupy a house not in the garden but close by on the Nedlands
Estate. My brother then thought that his wife had run over to these neighbours, and he accordingly proceeded thither in search of her. When on his way there
he met two of Mr.Gallop's sons,and he asked them if they had seen his wife anywhere. They replied that they had not, and he remarked, ' I suppose she is over
at Bob's' (meaning Matthews' house). After conversing with them for a while, he left to go to Matthews' house, with the words, ' I will go and fetch her over.'
Mrs.Fox, however, was not at the house mentioned. He came back, and as his wife did not put in an appearance he went shortly afterwards to see Matthews
again. 'What do you think I had better do, Bob?' he said to him. ' Well, Jack,' Matthews answered, ' I would advise you to give information to the police.' My
brother and Matthews then went to Claremont to interview the police. They had some difficulty in finding them, as they were absent on patrol duty. On a
second visit, however, they were successful."
When did you first hear of the tragedy, Mr.Fox ? inquired the reporter.
" The first news I heard was at 11 o'clock on Sunday night. I telephoned to the police at Claremont, and then learned that my brother's wife had been brutally
murdered. On the following morning, until when I could not possibly get down to Claremont, I read particulars of the tragedy in the newspapers, and also that
my brother had been arrested."
Asked if his brother mentioned any theory in connection with the crime, Mr.Fox said :" None, beyond the one connecting a number of Chinese with the affair.
After several Chinese had been convicted of a theft of fruit from Mr.Gallop's garden, my brother spoke about the affair to me. He told me that when he met
the Chinese in the garden, one threatened him with a stick, and swore that if he had a gun he would shoot him. I told my brother that he had better look out, as
they might be nasty customers."
Concerning the discovery of the axe Mr.Fox said that his nephew (a son of his brother Joseph) had occasion to use the axe on Sunday morning, and he is
positive that there were no marks resembling blood stains on it then. " I have been informed, Mr. Fox added, "that the axe was fitted in the wound in the
deceased's head and that of course could not be done without some blood adhering."
Speaking with reference to his brother's wife, Mr. Fox said that she was a splendid housekeeper, and a woman of whom any man might well be proud. He
lived with them in the same house in Perth for some considerable time after their marriage, and they seemed to be always on most affectionate terms. On the
Sunday preceding the tragedy, he spent the day with them, a friend accompanying him from Perth. Mrs. Fox was then suffering from tooth- ache, and when he
inquired after her from his brother on Saturday, the latter replied that her teeth were still troubling her. Both his brother and Mrs.Fox were very fond of their
two girls. It had been found necessary to acquaint the children to some extent with what had occurred, and one, on being told, remarked, ' What a lucky thing I
kissed my mother before I went away.' "
STATEMENT BY ONE OF THE VICTIM'S SISTERS.
An elder sister of Mrs.Fox,a Miss Eliza Ann Myers,in an interview with a reporter of the WEST AUSTRALIAN, furnished some interesting information
concerning her family. In the early sixties Herman Heinrich Meier,a native of Germany,emigrated from his Fatherland to London to evade military service
being then 20 years of age. On the 7th August 1864 Meier was married to Eliza Ann Pantland by the Rev.A.S.Courtenay, incumbant of St. James' Chapel,
Pentonville in the parish of Clerkenwell. Of this marriage were born three boys and four girls, Ellen Ann being the eldest. Rosa (Mrs. Fox) was born in the
King's Road Chelsea in 1868.
Of the children born to Mr.and Mrs.Meier,only three of the girls lived to become adults, for the three boys and one of the girls died some in infancy. In the
year 1876 the Meier family left England where they had lived in comparative comfort for Western Australia arriving in the ship "Hastings," the vessel in
which Bishop Parry came to the colony.
Arrived here, Meier took up a piece of land,but it was of such poor quality that the family,though they worked early and late and bore many privations,all
regretted the more comfortable circumstances they had left in England. Failing to making a success of farming, Meier took to working as a general labourer.
He eventually met his death by drowning at Roebourne, a sad feature of the case being that his body was never recovered. Meantime he had married again,
and his second marriage was fallowed by that of his daughter Rosa to John Alexander Fox, the youngest surviving daughter, Minna, being wedded, shortly
afterwards to a Mr. Powell,at present residing at Wongong. The Meier family made but few friends, for they were all of a very reserved disposition, "
keeping themselves," as Miss Myers puts it, " very much to themselves." It was not till they arrived in the colony that they Anglicised their name by
exchanging the German "Meier" for Myers.
Miss Myers, as may be readily understood, is much overcome by the tragic death of her sister,to whom she was very much attached. No inducement would
make her read any account of the crime, she stated, and as far as possible she endeavoured to keep her thoughts away from the tragedy. She seemed to be
unable to convince herself of the death of her sister,and the effort of endeavouring to speak of that sister's past life became so painful that she was compelled
to desist, being quite carried away with emotion.
A FAMILY OF MANY MISFORTUNES.
In addition to the calamities members of the Fox and Myers families have sustained as referred to above, some five years ago a younger brother of John Fox
was killed by a gunshot wound. Many theories were advanced as to the cause of the young man's death, but it was finally shown that the young man met his
death by accident. It was shown that while cleaning out a hayshed he came across a gun lying on two pegs driven into the wall. Grasping the muzzle Fox
carelessly dragged it from its resting place not knowing that it was loaded. The hammer caught on one of the pegs, was drawn back and fell thus exploding
the charge which entered the throat of the victim of the mishap. Death was instantaneous of course, the medical evidence indeed showing that the young
fellow could not even have heard the explosion. This accident preyed very heavily on the father's mind, to such an extent Mr.Alex. Fox states that it
undoubtedly shortened his days. The father of John and Alex Fox was a partial cripple being for many years paralysed all down his left side. It has been
stated above that the father of Mrs.Fox was drowned, and that his body had never been recovered. A somewhat similar fate befel one of her uncles, Mrs.
Myers' brother, a Mr.Pantland, for he was lost in the snow in England, and his body was never seen again. Misfortune after misfortune seems to have
followed both families till they culminated in the awful, and to the many old friends and acquaintances of John Fox mysterious murder of Saturday, for there
are many who openly and firmly express the opinion that John Fox is the victim of a most unjust suspicion and that time will show that their belief that he is
incapable of such a crime is correct.
THE TRIAL OF ALEXANDER FOX
Perth April 14 1899
The trial of Fox for the murder of his wife at Dalkeith,near Clairmont, was concluded today The Chief Justice ,in summing up,said that the evidence as to the
tracks, as given by Crown witnesses, was most unsatisfactory, and the same remark applied to the blood stains. The theories of the Crown seemed to fall to
pieces like a pick of cards. Prisoner's demeanour,after the discovery of the murder was quite that of an innocent man. The jury,without leaving the box,
returned verdict of not guilty When Fox left the court the crowd cheered lum lustily.