Murder and Crime: Halifax

Murder and Crime in Halifax

Discover the darker side of Halifax with this chilling collection of true life murders from the town past.

Featuring all factions of the criminal underworld, this macabre selection of tales include the case of a husband who boasted that he had played ‘Jack the Ripper’ after slitting his wife’s throat, a mother who murdered her two children, and a man who was bludgeoned to death in a newspaper office.

Drawing on a wide variety of historical sources and containing many cases which have never before been published Halifax Murders will fascinate everyone interested in true crime and the history of this South Yorkshire town.

Chapter List

Case One:        1839    Murdered by his Father

Case Two:        1865    ‘Oh Mother, don’t poison me’

Case Three:      1857    ‘I came to murder him and I have done it’

Case Four:       1858    Murder in a Newspaper Office

Case Five:        1864    ‘I’ve done it, and what’s done can’t be undone’

Case Six:          1864    A Canal Side Rescue

Case Seven:     1865    Child Murder

Case Eight:       1865    Death of a Sister

Case Nine:       1868    Murder in the Parsonage

Case Ten:         1870    Murdered by his Son

Case Eleven     1872    Saved by a Thick Overcoat

Case Twelve:    1889    ‘Acting like Jack the Ripper’

Case Thirteen   1892    Murder in the Cellar

Case Fourteen:1866     Murder and Suicide


 Extract from the book

Death of a Sister

Thomas Cockcroft aged 42, was a farm labourer, who had lived with his sister, Hannah Helliwell at Sowerby for the last five years. In the same house there also lived, Hannah’s son, Henry Helliwell, and her daughter Sarah; and her grand-daughter Sarah Ann who was aged about eight years. On the morning of the 20th June 1865, all of these persons left the house to go to their respective duties, apart from Cockcroft and Hannah Helliwell who was still in bed. When she returned home from school for lunch, the girl Sarah Ann found the body of her grandmother. A neighbour, James Farrar who lived a mile away, was called to the house, where he was shocked to see Helliwell lying insensible on the floor in a pool of blood. He described her body as being placed with her face towards the fireplace and her feet towards the door. Her head and face were covered in blood, and her jaw was broken and he found that she was barely alive. There was no sign of Thomas Cockroft. A surgeon, Mr James Horsfall of Sowerby Bridge was quickly summoned and she was removed to the hospital where she lived until the 27th, but she never regained consciousness. It seems that the wounds had been inflicted by a pair of tongs, which were usually kept in the kitchen. The family later confirmed to the police that they had been there on the morning, but after the murder were found to be missing.

On the same day, another witness, Amos Taylor saw Cockcroft crouching down between stone walls which surrounded a field. Another witness, Joseph Naylor spotted him about 2pm at a further distance from the house. News that he was a wanted man had reached Naylor who said to him ‘what hast thou been doing at Sowerby?’ Cockcroft told him that his sister had wanted to mend his waistcoat. He had objected to her doing it unless she used new cotton, but when she refused to do so, he hit her. He told Naylor that he had not meant to hit her, but once he started he could not stop.

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