George Joseph Smith

George Joseph Smith

English serial killer and polygamist
Date of Birth: 11.01.1872
Country: Great Britain

  1. Biography of George Joseph Smith
  2. Early Life
  3. Marriages and Crimes
  4. Murder and Capture

Biography of George Joseph Smith

George Joseph Smith was an English serial killer and polygamist who was convicted and executed for the murders of three women. His case received significant media attention and had a profound impact on the development of forensic science and its importance in criminal investigations.

Early Life

George was born in Bethnal Green, London. At the age of 9, he was sent to a reform school, and later, he had multiple arrests for theft and fraud. In 1896, Smith was sentenced to 12 months in prison for persuading a acquaintance to steal from her employers. He used the ill-gotten money to open a bakery in Leicester.

Marriages and Crimes

In 1898, under the alias Oliver George Love, Smith married Caroline Beatrice Thornhill, which was his only legal marriage. He would go on to marry several other women without divorcing his previous wives, in violation of the law. Caroline worked as a maid in London and regularly stole from her employers. She was eventually arrested in Worthing, Sussex, and sentenced to a year in prison. Upon her release, she turned Smith over to the authorities, and he was sentenced to two years in prison. Caroline fled to Canada before his release.

After his release from prison, Smith married his second wife, whom he robbed and then abandoned. In June 1908, he married Florence Wilson, a widow from Worthing. However, on June 3rd, he left her after stealing all her savings and selling a significant portion of her property. On July 30th, George married Edith Peglar, who, like his previous wives, worked as a maid and regularly stole from her employers.

Murder and Capture

Smith continued to marry multiple women and commit various crimes. However, he escalated to murder in January 1915. Police noticed similarities in the deaths of Margaret Elizabeth Lloyd and Alice Smith, both of whom drowned in their bathtubs, with their bodies discovered by their husbands. Inspector Arthur Neil took over the investigation and found evidence suggesting their deaths were not accidental.

Later, it was discovered that Margaret had changed her will, leaving her entire estate to her husband just hours before her death. She had also emptied her bank accounts. The exhumation of Margaret's body confirmed that she had been murdered.

A year later, Beatrice Munday drowned in her own bathtub, also discovered by her husband. The same telltale signs were found on Beatrice's body, similar to the previous cases. George Joseph Smith was arrested and stood trial. On July 1st, the jury found him guilty of multiple murders after just 20 minutes of deliberation. Smith's appeal was unsuccessful, and he was executed on August 13th, 1915.

This case was significant as it was the first time British police were able to prove the existence of a particular system connecting multiple murders. The coordinated efforts of forensic experts played a crucial role in providing evidence against Smith.