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Author Topic: A Murder Mystery at Brompton Barracks - 1881  (Read 10214 times)

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Offline Leofwine

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Re: A Murder Mystery at Brompton Barracks - 1881
« Reply #10 on: February 05, 2012, 00:16:34 »
Tuesday 22 February 1881

Portsmouth Evening News - Tuesday 22 February 1881

THE MURDER AT BROMPTON BARRACKS.
The adjourned inquiry as to the death of Lieut., Percy L. O. Roper, Royal Engineers, who was found dead on the stairs leading to his quarters at Brompton Barracks, Chatham, on Friday evening, the 11th inst., was resumed by Mr. W, J. Harris, coroner, at Brompton Barracks, yesterday. The lecture-theatre, in which the inquiry was held, was again crowded.
Mr. Blanchard Wontner, solicitor, again watched the case on behalf of the family of the deceased.
The first witnesses called were Dr. Blood, Dr. Butler and Dr. Jackson, who, with Dr. Weekes previously examined, made the post mortem examination of the body. The three gentlemen agreed with Dr. Weekes that it was almost Impossible and highly improbable that the wound which caused death, and which was caused by a bullet could have been self-inflicted.
Amelia Privett, wife of the groom to Colonel Duff, and living in the same house, said she heard a tussle and halloaing upstairs on the landing. She heard only one voice. There was a knock and soon afterwards something fell.
Somebody exclaimed! "Oh!" and groans followed. Mrs. Garside then went to let the dogs in, and witness heard her tell Gallagher that Mr. Roper was lying upon the stairs.
Winnie Gallagher, wife of William Gallagher, said it was her duty to keep the room of the deceased in order, and she left it at about 20 minutes past 8 on the evening in question. Everything then appeared safe, and the poker was in the fender. The clothes produced were hanging on the pegs in the room or were in the drawers. After the discovery of the body Mrs Garside drew her attention to the clothes on the window-sill and remarked, "They were not there when we did the rooms" Witness replied, "No." When she returned to the kitchen from the town she heard a noise as though one of the baths in the passage had been upset.
Colonel Duff, Assistant-Commandant of the School of Military Engineering, who was examined on the previous occasion, gave further evidence. He deposed to going to the room of the deceased, having been informed of the occurrence by Gallagher. When Gallagher came running up to witness he said, " Oh, Sir, my master, he has been stabbed." He mentioned something else which witness did not hear, as the wind was blowing very hard at the time, and he spoke in a low, crying tone. When witness went into the room Gallagher stayed outside, but witness at once called out "This is not a stab, but a shot ; some one has shot him or he has shot himself." Witness sent Gallagher for a doctor. The following unfinished letter witness found upon the table in deceased's room :— "Brompton Barracks, Friday evening, 11-2-81. My dear Mrs. Evans, — l find we go up to the D.A.G." (Deputy-Adjutant-General) "on Monday next and as that will probably take the whole day —" The deceased was in good spirits. He had finished his two years' study at the school, and was leaving with the highest possible character. He was not in pecuniary difficulties.
The inquiry was again adjourned for a week.



Saturday 26 February 1881

Alnwick Mercury - Saturday 26 February 1881

THE MURDER OF AN OFFICER AT CHATHAM.
The adjourned inquiry as to the death Lieutenant Percy L. O. Roper, Royal Engineers, who was found dead on the stairs leading to his quarters at Brompton Barracks, Chatham, on Friday evening, the 11th inst., was resumed on Monday by Mr. W. J. Harris, coroner, at Brompton Barracks. The lecture-theatre, in which the inquiry was held, was again crowded.
Mr. Blanchard Wontner, solicitor, again watched the case on behalf the family the deceased.
The first witnesses called were Dr. Blood, Dr. Butler and Dr. Jackson, who, with Dr. Weekes (previously examined), made the post-mortem examination of the body. The three gentlemen agreed with Dr. Weekes that it was almost impossible and highly improbable that the wound which caused death, and which was caused by bullet, could have been self-inflicted.
William Gallagher, servant to the deceased, was recalled. He said that when his attention was called to the deceased on the stairs, he went up to him. He did not see anything upon the stairs, and did not notice any clothes near the window on the landing at the top of the stairs. The window was closed. Witness did not at the time miss any articles from the room occupied by the deceased, but he noticed that the drawers were pulled out, and that the covering was taken from a box in which the deceased kept his money. The key of the box was kept in one of the drawers. The poker produced belonged to the deceased's room, and the watch and case, the two gold rings, the key, and the purse produced were the property of his master. On the 1st of February witness cashed cheque for £19 for the deceased.
By Mr. Wontner: Some clothes which the deceased had worn during the day had been thrown from the box on to the floor. The watch was usually kept on the piano. The box had lock, and it appeared as though the covering had been removed to unlock the box. Witness found the key in the usual place in the drawer. When witness came from the officers' mess that evening, and before the occurrence, he found that his wife was out. Mrs. Garside, who lived opposite witness, and whose quarters are in the basement the house where Lieutenant Roper lived, was in her room. When witness took the deceased into his room, the only light there was from the fire. There were two candles and a lamp in the room, but they were not alight. He could not see the state of the room by the light from the fire. He believed all the drawers were pulled out.
By the Coroner: The deceased was of a cheerful disposition, and for a few days prior to his death was even more cheerful than usual, as he was about going on leave. He was not a gentleman likely to commit suicide.
Mary Garside, wife of another servant, said that on the night in question she was engaged putting her master's (Lieutenant Stotherd's) room in order. The room was next that occupied by the deceased. She came downstairs about twenty minutes past eight, and saw no one about. She went down into the kitchen, and about twenty minutes nine heard a scuffling on the landing upstairs, then a fall, and then a sound as though something had fallen out of the hand. She took no notice of it, as she thought gentlemen were "sky-larking." Soon afterwards, she heard moaning and some dogs barking the front door. She went up to let the dogs in, and then saw tbe deceased lying upon the stairs. She called the witness Gallagher, and they—with Mrs. Gallagher—got the deceased upstairs and into his room. Witness's daughter also followed up the stairs. Gallagher sent for some of the officers. At the time they carried the deceased up the stairs, witness did not notice anything on the stairs. Witness went downstairs, and when returning she saw Gallagher running out of the house in a great hurry. He met Colonel Duff, and they both went up to the deceased. Witness followed, and on the landing kicked against the revolver case produced. She also picked some cartridges which were lying about the landing. She also found the revolver produced on the step next to the top. A poker was lying under the window at the top of the landing. She also saw some clothes — four coats, vest, dressing-gown, and a smoking cap — lying on the window-sill.
By the Foreman: Colonel Duff and those who removed the deceased must have passed the revolver had it been there all the time. She did not know whether any one passed up the stairs except those she had named.
By the Coroner: She recollected hearing footsteps on the stairs before she heard the fall or noise.
By Mr. Wontner : When they took deceased upstairs she did not notice that the landing window was open. Colonel Duff called her attention to the circumstance.
Amelia Privett, wife of the groom to Colonel Duff, and living in the same house, said she heard tussle and hallooing upstairs on the landing. She heard only one voice. There was a knock and soon afterwards something fell. Somebody exclaimed, "Oh;" and groans followed. Mrs. Garside then went to let the dogs in, and witness heard her tell Gallagher that Mr. Roper was lying upon the stairs.
Winnie Gallagher, wife William Gallagher, said was her duty to keep the room the deceased order, and she left at about twenty minutes past eight on the evening in question. Everything then appeared safe, and the poker was the fender. The clothes produced were hanging on the pegs in the room were in the drawers. After the discovery of the body Mrs. Garside drew her attention to the clothes on the window-sill and remarked, "They were not there when we did the rooms." Witness replied, "No." When she returned to the kitchen from the town she heard a noise as though one of the baths in the passage had been upset.
Colonel Duff, Assistant-Commandant of the School of Military Engineering, who was examined on the previous occasion, gave further evidence. He deposed to going to the room of the deceased, having been informed of the occurrence by Gallagher. When Gallagher came running up to witness he said, "Oh, Sir, my master, he has been stabbed." He mentioned something else which witness did not hear, the wind was blowing very hard at the time, and he spoke in a low, crying tone. When witness went into the room Gallagher stayed outside, but witness at once called out, "This not a stab, but a shot; some one has shot him, or he has shot himself." Wittiess sent Gallagher for a doctor. The following unfinished letter witness found upon the table in deceased's room:— "Brompton Barracks, Friday evening, 11-2-81. My dear Mrs. Evans, —I find we go up to the D,-A,-G." (Deputy-Adjutant-General) " on Monday next and as that will probably take the whole day." The deceased was in good spirits. He had finished his two years' study at the school, and was leaving with the highest possible character. He was not in pecuniary difficulties.
James Garside, servant to Lieutenant Stotherd, whose rooms joined that of the deceased, deposed that the revolver and case produced were similar to those his master had hanging in his room. Witness last saw it the morning of Friday, the 11th inst., between 10 and 11. He had oiled the revolver on the previous Monday. Witness had no doubt those produced were the same revolver and pouch. Witness left the mess at nine that night to go to his master's room, and when he was told Lieutenant Roper was shot he missed the revolver and pouch from behind the door in Lieutenant Stotherd's room. Witness did not think the revolver had been used since it had been in his master's possession; nor had he ever seen cartridges in his master's room or possession since he had been in his service. Witness saw no stranger in his master's room that day. His wife picked up the watch and chain and gave it to him, and he handed it to Colonel Duff.
By Mr. Wontner : He had never known his master lend the revolver any one, and he had never known it out of his possession. On the 7th instant witness oiled the revolver thoroughly, as there was rust on it. Witness saw clothes on the window-sill of the landing in a large bundle.
Sarah Garside, daughter of the last witness, said she saw the deceased being carried upstairs, but saw no one but Gallagher, his wife, and witness's mother about. Witness left Gallagher in the room, but saw nothing the stairs.
The proceedings lasted six hours, and the inquest was again adjourned until Monday, the 28th inst.


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Offline Leofwine

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Re: A Murder Mystery at Brompton Barracks - 1881
« Reply #9 on: February 04, 2012, 21:05:22 »
Thursday 17 February 1881

London Daily News - Thursday 17 February 1881

THE MURDER AT CHATHAM
Yesterday afternoon the funeral of Lieutenant Percy Lyon Ormsby Roper, of the Royal Engineers, who is believed to have been murdered in Brompton Barracks, Chatham, took place at Gillingham Cemetery and was conducted with full military honours. The funeral procession left the deceased's quarters in the Royal Engineer barracks at two o'clock, the entire battalion of the Royal Engineers as well as the other troops and the officers composing it having been previously formed in the Barrack-square at Brompton. In advance of the procession walked a firing party, with arms reversed, and immediately in front of the coffin were the band of the Royal Engineers and the whole of the other available military bands in the garrison with muffled drums, and their instruments draped in black. The coffin, which was borne on a gun-carriage drawn by six black horses, was covered with the Union Jack, which, however, was completely hidden by the mass of white flowers which had boon placed upon it. As the procession passed beneath the Crimean Memorial Arch, with the bands playing at intervals the "Dead March," from Saul, and "Sleepers wake," from Saint Paul, the effect was very solemn, and among the vast crowd nearly every head was uncovered. The pall was borne by a number of officers of the same rank as the deceased, who were selected from his most intimate friends. The chief mourners wore the deceased's father and some others of his relatives, who walked immediately after the coffin. Upwards of a thousand of the Royal Engineers and other troops followed, the naval and military officers of the port and garrison of whom there were about two hundred present, bringing up the procession. Every officer belonging to the deceased's corps not engaged on otherwise urgent duties was present. The streets and roads through which the funeral procession passed were lined with sympathetic spectators - the circum stances surrounding the deceased's death having created a profound impression among all classes in the garrison. All the shops and the majority of private houses along the line of route were partially closed. On the conclusion of the funeral service in the cemetery, and after the body had been consigned to the grave, the firing party drew near and discharged the usual number of volleys over the remains of the deceased officer, after which the officers and troops returned to Brompton, preceded by the bands playing. With regard to the mystery surrounding the death of the deceased, there is absolutely nothing new to communicate, and the whole affair remains in as inexplicable a state as ever. All the efforts of the police, aided by skilful detectives from the metropolitan and the Rochester police have failed to elicit any other information than that already known, the clue which was believed to have been obtained by the police having resolved itself into mere surmises. The authorities at the barracks still cling to the belief that the deceased was murdered by some one engaged in robbing his quarters at the time he unexpectedly returned. One remarkable fact in connection with this theory is that on the deceased's purse being discovered by Colonel Duff as he was leaving deceased's room, it was found, on examination, to contain only a few shillings, and no other money was subsequently discovered either in Lieutenant Roper's pockets or about the room. As the deceased was going away in a day or two on lengthened leave to visit his friends in Germany, after completing the curriculum at the School of Military Engineering, it is reasonable to suppose that he would have been in possession of a much larger sum of money than few shillings. That being the case, the question naturally arises as to what became of the other money which, it is reasonable to suppose, was in deceased's purse at the time of the occurrence. These particulars, with others, may naturally be expected to be strictly enquired into by the jury at the adjourned inquest, and may possibly assist in the elucidation of what is a mysterious affair.



Saturday 19 February 1881

Northampton Mercury - Saturday 19 February 1881

MURDER OF AN OFFICER AT CHATHAM
An inquest on the body of Lieutenant Percy L. O. Roper, of the Royal Engineers, whose body was discovered on Friday night, on the stairs outside his quarters at Brompton Barracks, Chatham, under circumstances which led to the belief that he had been murdered, was held at the Royal Engineer Barracks, Chatham, on Monday afternoon, before Mr. W. J. Harris, one of the coroners for Kent. — Mr. B. Wontner, with whom was Major H. C. Seddon, Royal Engineers, watched the case on behalf of the friends of the deceased officer. — Lieutenant Colonel Duff, Assistant-Commandant at the School of Military Engineering, Chatham, deposed to finding deceased on his bed, with a wound in his chest, from which blood was flowing. Deceased was quite unconscious, and witness sent for a surgeon. While the witness was left alone with the deceased, a woman, the wife of one of the servants in the house, brought to the door a leather pistol case, which she said she had found on the stairs. He examined the case, and found one cartridge it. The same woman afterwards brought him several cartridges, which witness put in the pouch. She also brought into the room the revolver produced, and handed it to the witness, who, on examining it, found five undischarged cartridges, and one exploded one in it. By this time Mr. Weekes, a surgeon, had arrived, and he examined deceased. On hearing the woman make an exclamation, witness went outside the room, when his foot struck against something which he found to be a purse, in which were few shillings. He also saw some articles of clothes in the passage, and Gallagher, the servant, brought and handed him watch and case. The deceased was 21 years of age, and he had last seen him alive that day. — William Gallagher deposed that he was an established servant at the Royal Engineer establishment, and had been deceased's servant since the 17th July last. Witness last saw the deceased alive at the mess at about 25 minutes past eight, when the deceased sent for him, and desired him to call him at the usual hour on the following morning. Witness left the deceased, and returned to his quarters about five minutes afterwards, when, as he was changing his clothes in the kitchen, he heard noise as if one of the bath tubs in the passage had fallen down. Witness took no notice of the noise, as he thought some of the young gentlemen had returned from mess and were larking. As soon as the witness had changed his mess clothes he went to get his supper beer, and on the first landing met Mrs. Gerside, who called his attention to something on the stairs. Witness ran up and found the deceased lying on the stairs with his face towards the railings. He turned him over and asked what was the matter, but deceased never spoke. Witness noticed that he was wounded, and with the assistance of Mrs. Gerside and his wife they carried deceased into his room and laid him on the bed, at the same time sending for a surgeon. On opening deceased's jacket and waistcoat witness saw blood coming from a wound in his chest. As no medical man had arrived, witness ran out and called Colonel Duff. — Dr. Weekes said he was sent for at ten minutes to nine, and went immediately to the deceased's quarters, where deceased was lying on his bed with a punctured wound on his left side. Deceased was pulseless, and quite insensible. Witness used every effort to rouse him by speaking to him. He also gave him a few spoonfuls of brandy and water, which deceased swallowed with difficulty. Deceased was restless and exhausted. Witness found a wound on the left side, between the fifth and six ribs, about three inches from the middle of the chest. Deceased never once rallied, and died at about twenty minutes past ten. On Saturday the witness made a post-mortem examination of the deceased in the presence of Drs. Blood, Hixon, Butler, and Barnes, when he found, on opening the chest, a portion of the right ventricle of the heart torn away, making an aperture large enough to admit two fingers. The ball had then passed through portion of the liver, and into the pleura, cutting a semi-circular piece out of the ninth rib which turned it, and it was found about two inches higher.  The bullet produced was the one extracted from the deceased. On the witness examining deceased's clothes he found his waistcoat torn and charred on the left side, a portion of the linen and shirt being also torn away. The merino vest was rather more charred than the other things. From the course the bullet took and the position in which the revolver must have been held it was impossible for the wound to have been self-inflicted; while from the charred marks on the clothes the witness inferred that the revolver must have been close to his body when was fired. — The Coroner announced that was the whole of the evidence he intended taking that day, and he should adjourn the inquiry until the following Monday. — The police engaged in the investigation of what is fully believed to have been a murder, are actively employed in endeavouring to elucidate anything in connection with the mysterious affair, but up to the present time without success. It is, however, stated that suspicion rests upon some one who was known to be well acquainted with the movements and habits of the deceased.
The police engaged in investigations are, it is understood, in possession of certain information which may, it is hoped, lead to the discovery of the quarter whence the cartridges with which the revolver, picked after the murder, was loaded, were obtained. The deceased occupied two rooms No. 9 house Brompton Barracks, and the supposition is that whilst in one room he saw the thief in the other, and, arming himself with the poker, placed himself on the stairs to prevent his escape until assistance arrived, and that in the scuffle which ensued he was then shot. The deceased was an officer of high attainments, and obtained a high place when passing ont of the Royal Military Academy. Of an engaging and amiable disposition, he was much liked by his brother officers, who are deeply concerned at his death, and the circumstances connected with it. His mother arrived at Chatham, from Germany, on Monday night, and at the time he was murdered the deceased was making preparations to leave Chatham on the following Monday, on leave of absence, to visit his parents, before proceeding on foreign service.


North Wales Chronicle - Saturday 19 February 1881

MYSTERIOUS MURDER OF AN OFFICER.
On Friday week, at about nine o'clock, Lieutenant Percy L. O. Roper, an officer of the Royal Engineers, was found mortally injured, shot through the breast, on the stairs leading to his quarters on the first floor, at No. 9 house, in Brompton Barracks, Chatham. Only a few minutes previously Lieutenant Roper had returned from the mess, where he had been dining with the other officers, and he was then in his accustomed health and spirits. At the time of the occurrence all the officers occupying the block of buildings were away, and the only persons in the house ware some of the servants who waited on the officers. One of these, a woman named Mary Gerside, whose husband is servant to Lieutenant Stotherd, of the Royal Engineers, hearing some dogs belonging to another officer barking went to let them in. She heard a groan on the stairs leading to Lieutenant Roper's quarters, and found the wounded man lying near the top insensible and dying. She immediately called William Gallagher, the deceased's servant, and with assistance Lieutenant Roper was conveyed into his room, medical assistance being at once summoned. On the arrival of Dr. Weekes it was found that Lieutenant Roper had been shot in the chest by a revolver. There was no hope of saving him, and death followed in about an hour. A search was then made, when a six-chambered revolver was picked up, one of the chambers of which had been discharged, while the others were still loaded. The revolver case, a poker, deceased's watch in its case, and likewise some coats and a cap were also picked up, as well as five or six cartridges, near the revolver. The extraordinary part of the occurrence is that the weapon picked up was immediately identified by James Gerside, Mary Gerside's husband, who is servant to Lieutenant Stotherd, occupying quarters in the same building, as belonging to that officer. Gerside states that he was in the constant habit of cleaning the revolver, but he never knew it to be loaded, and had never seen any cartridges for it. It would therefore seem that the murderer of Lieutenant Roper must have first obtained possession of Lieutenant Stotherd's revolver from his room, and that he had then loaded it and discharged its contents at the deceased, who had interrupted him in his attempt at robbing his quarters. From the position in which Lieutenant Roper was found lying, and the circumstance of the poker being on the stairs, together with deceased's watch and other things, it seems probable that the officer must have attacked the thief with the poker, and that while the two were on the stairs the murderer must have discharged the revolver close to Lieutenant Roper's left breast. The post-mortem examination made on Saturday showed that the ball had penetrated the heart and lung, and made a complete circuit of the body. Although the robbery and murder must have occupied only about a quarter of an hour, the wife of Gallagher, deceased's servant, having been in Lieutenant Roper's room at half-past eight, when everything was safe, the perpetrator of the crime succeeded in getting away from the barracks without leaving the slightest traces behind. At the time Lieutenant Roper left the mess it was his intention to return to join a whist party of his brother officers, and on reaching his quarters he appears to have commenced writing a letter, which was subsequently discovered, unfinished. As the drawers in his room were opened and in disorder, the deceased must have then ascertained that some one had attempted to rob him, and he would appear to have attacked him with the poker as the thief was on the stairs making off with the watch and other property. With regard to the revolver with which the murder was committed, it would seem that it had been given to Lieutenant Stotherd as a prize, but, so far as he knew, had never been loaded. How it came into the possession of the person who committed the murder is a mystery. The deceased was to have left Chatham on Monday on two months' leave of absence, to visit his parents, residing in Germany.

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Offline Leofwine

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Re: A Murder Mystery at Brompton Barracks - 1881
« Reply #8 on: February 04, 2012, 18:41:58 »
Tuesday 15 February 1881

Dundee Courier - Tuesday 15 February 1881

THE MYSTERIOUS DEATH OF AN OFFICER.
The inquest on Lieutenant Roper, of the Royal Engineers, whose body was found outside his quarters at Brompton Barracks, Chatham, took place yesterday. Lieutenant Duff, examined, said his quarters adjoined deceased's. He dined at the mess with the latter and other officers on Friday night, and on leaving at about a quarter to nine, saw deceased's servant running to him, and exclaiming, "Some one has stabbed my master." A doctor was immediately sent for. A woman subsequently brought him a leather pistol case containing a bullet, several other bullets, and a revolver with five un-discharged cartridges. A watch case and a purse containing a few shillings were also picked up. Wm. Gallagher, deceased's servant, said Lieutenant Roper was changing his clothes when witness heard a cry, and on being called out found him dying. Dr. Weekes described the wound, and gave it as his opinion that it was not self -inflicted. The inquiry was adjourned.



Berwickshire News and General Advertiser - Tuesday 15 February 1881

MYSTERIOUS MURDER OF AN OFFICER AT CHATHAM.
CHATHAM, Sunday night. - On Friday night, about nine o'clock, Lieutenant Percy L. O. Roper, an officer of the Royal Engineers, was found mortally wounded, shot in the region of the heart, on the stairs leading to his quarters on the first floor at No. 9 house, in Brompton Barracks, Chatham. Only a few minutes previously Lieutenant Roper had retired from the mess, where he had been dining with the other officers, and he was then in his accustomed health and spirits. At the time of the occurrence the whole of the officers occupying the block of buildings were away, and the only persons in the house were some of the servants who waited on the officers. One of these, a woman named Mary Gerside, whose husband is servant to Lieutenant Stotherd, of the Royal Engineers, hearing some dogs belonging to another officer barking, went to let them in, when she heard a groan on the stair leading to Lieutenant Roper's quarters, and she then found the wounded gentleman lying near the top stairs, insensible and dying. She immediately called William Gallagher, the deceased's servant, and with his assistance Lieut. Roper was conveyed to his room. Medical assistance was also summoned. On the arrival of Dr Weekes it was found that the deceased had been shot in the chest by a revolver, and Lieut. Roper expired in about an hour, without being able to give any account of the affair. A search was made, when a six-chambered revolver was picked up, one of the chambers of which had been discharged, while the others were still loaded. The revolver case, a poker, the deceased's watch in its case, and likewise some coal and a cup, were also picked up, as well as five or six cartridges near the revolver.
The extraordinary part of the occurrence is that the revolver was identified by James Gerside, Mary Gerside's husband, who is servant to Lieut. Stotherd, occupying quarters in the same buildings, as belonging to that officer. Gerside states that he was in the constant habit of cleaning the revolver, but he never knew it to be loaded, and had never seen any cartridges for it. It would therefore seem that the murderer of Lieut. Roper must have first obtained possession of Lieutenant Stotherd's revolver from that officer's room, and that he had then loaded it aud discharged its contents at Mr Roper, who had apparently interrupted him in his attempt at robbing his quarters. From the position in which Lieutenant Roper was found lying, and the circumstance of the poker being on the stairs, together with the deceased's watch and other things, it seems probable that Lieutenant Roper must have attacked the thief with the poker and that whilst the two were on the stairs the murderer must have discharged the revolver close Lieutenant Roper's left breast. The post-mortem examination made yesterday showed that the ball had made a complete circuit of the body.
Although the robbery and murder must have occupied only about a quarter of an hour - the wife of Gallagher, the deceased's servant, having been in Lieutenant Roper's room at half-past eight, when everything was safe - the perpetrator of the crime succeeded in getting away from the Barracks without leaving the slightest trace behind. At the time Lieutenant Roper left mess it was his intention to write a letter and return to join a whist party of officers, and on reaching his quarters he appears to have commenced writing the letter, which was discovered unfinished. As the drawers in his room were opened and in disorder, the deceased must have then ascertained that some one had attempted to rob him, and he would appear to have attacked the robber with the poker as he was on the stairs making off with the watch and other property. The murderer from the course the ball was found to have taken, evidently fired at him from above. With regard to the revolver with which the murder was committed, it would seem it had been given to Lieutenant Stotherd as a prize, but as far as he knew never been loaded. How it came into the possession of the person who committed the murder is a mystery.
Up to this evening no clue had been obtained to the murderer. What renders the occurrence the more mysterious is that no report of the discharge of a revolver was heard by any person in the barracks; neither was any strange person seen about, either before or after the murder was discovered. All the sentries on duty near the spot speak positively to hearing nothing unusual, although one of them states that he heard a noise like the breaking of china, but saw nothing.
The deceased was to have left Chatham to-day on two months' leave of absence to visit his parents residing in Germany, The affair has caused a great sensation among all classes in Chatham garrison, and the inquiry before the Coroner is awaited with much interest.
[The deceased gentleman was a grandson of the late respected Town Clerk of Berwick (Mr R. Home), a nephew of the late Dr Eadie of Glasgow.]



Wednesday 16 February 1881

Portsmouth Evening News - Wednesday 16 February 1881

THE SUPPOSED MURDER AT BROMPTON BARRACKS.
On Monday Mr. W. J. Harris, one of the coroners for Kent, opened an inquest at the Royal Engineer Barracks, Chatham, upon the body of lieutenant Percy Lyon Ormsby Roper, R.E., who was found shot on the stairs leading to his quarters on Friday night, and who was supposed to have been murdered. The inquest excited considerable interest, and the lecture theatre, in which the inquiry was held, was filled by military men and civilians. Mr. Blanchard Wontner, solicitor, watched the case on the part of the family of the deceased.
Lieutenant-Colonel R. W. Duff said that he was dining at the officers' mess on Friday evening, the 11th of February. The deceased also dined there. The majority of the officers left about half-past 8, but witness did not leave until about a quarter to 9. He lived in the next house to the deceased. In going home he met Lieutenant Roper's servant who, with great emotion, said "Oh, Sir, my master! Some one has stabbed him." Witness at once proceeded to Lieutenant Roper's quarters. The deceased was bleeding from a wound in the chest, and was quite unconscious. Witness at once sent for a doctor. The wife of one of the servants living in the same house brought a revolver case, some cartridges, and then a revolver. One chamber of the revolver had been discharged; the others were loaned. The witness, in going out of the room on to the landing, kicked against what proved to be Lieutenant Roper's purse, which contained only a few shillings and some stamps. The servant of the deceased named Gallagher, pointed out some clothes that were on the landing.
William Gallagher, the servant, said he saw the deceased in the mess at about twenty minutes past eight. Witness afterwards went to his quarters, which are in the same house as the deceased lived in. While taking off his livery he heard a noise as if one of the baths had fallen down on the landing. He proceeded to get his supper beer, when, in consequence of what the wife of one of the other servants told him, he went upstairs. The deceased was lying on the stairs with his face inclined towards the railings. Witness asked him what was the matter, but got no reply. The deceased was unconscious, and moaning very much. Witness, finding a quantity of blood under his master's waistcoat, ran for assistance.
The Coroner said he did not intend to further examine the witness that day. The case was not ripe for full inquiry, but the doctors evidence might be given at once.
Dr. Henry Weekes said he was sent for to see the deceased about ten minutes to 6 on Friday night. The deceased was perfectly unconscious. He had a punctured wound on the left side between the fifth and sixth ribs. He lived about an hour and ten minutes, but was unconscious the whole time. On Saturday witness made a post mortem examination in company with Drs. Blood, Hinkson, Butler, and Barnes. The wound he had received was the cause of death. His waistcoat, shirt, and merino vest had charred holes through them. The skin on the body was also charred above the wound. From the course the bullet took, witness was of opinion that the wound was not self inflicted. From the charred marks the weapon must have been fired close to the body. The deceased could not have inflicted the wound with the right band, and it was highly improbable that he could have done it with his left hand.
The Coroner then adjourned the inquiry until Monday next at twelve o'clock, and said that in the interim he should forward the depositions he had taken to the Public Prosecutor.
Superintendent Coppinges, Kent County Constabulary, has the assistance of Chief Inspector Sherlock, L Division, Metropolitan Police, and some detectives from London to aid in unravelling the mystery, but up to the present time suspicion has not fallen upon any one.


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Offline Leofwine

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Re: A Murder Mystery at Brompton Barracks - 1881
« Reply #7 on: February 04, 2012, 18:12:50 »
Having looked at this a little more I have found very many newspaper articles about it. It was big news at the time, taking up many column inches throughout many different newspapers the length and breadth of the British Isles. I will add transcriptions of some of these as they will add details to what is already here and give an idea of how the event was reported around the country. I am including no more than 10-20% of what I have found, and from that figure you will get a clue as to how widely the story was reported and followed. Many of the papers had identical, or near identical versions ofthe stories, suggesting a common 'newsfeed' was used. The ones I will add here are generally those that add additional details to the basic outline of the story.

Enjoy!

Saturday 12 February 1881

Portsmouth Evening News - Saturday 12 February 1881

AN OFFICER SHOT IN BROMPTON BARRACKS.
London, Saturday.
Lieutenant Percy Roper, Royal Engineers, was last night found shot dead on the stairs at Brompton Barracks. The affair is involved in mystery. Enquiries made lead both the police and the military authorities to the belief that Lieut. Roper, was murdered, as a revolver was found lying too far from the deceased for him to have shot himself.


Nottingham Evening Post - Saturday 12 February 1881

MYSTERIOUS MURDER OF AN ENGINEER OFFICER.
About half-past eight o'clock last night, Lieutenant Percy Roper, Royal Engineers, was found lying dead at the bottom of a staircase leading to his quarters, in Brompton Barracks, Chatham, having been shot with a revolver, which was found lying some distance from the body. One chamber was discharged, the other five being loaded with ball cartridge. It is believed the deceased was shot by some one hiding in the passage, as the revolver was too far away for the injury to be self inflicted.




Monday 14 February 1881

Liverpool Mercury - Monday 14 February 1881

SUSPICIOUS DEATH OF AN OFFICER.
Lieutenant Roper, R.E., was found shot in his quarters at Brompton Barracks, Chatham, on Friday night. The deceased officer joined at Chatham from the Royal Military Academy, Woolwich, two years ago. He had just completed his course of instruction at Chatham, and was under orders to leave that garrison, and report himself at the War Office. On Friday night he had dined at the mess, and left in his customary spirits, but rather earlier than usual, as he wished to write some letters, Nothing more was seen of him until he was found nearly an hour afterwards, lying upon the stairs leading to his quarters, in an unconscious state, having received a bullet wound just below is the heart. He was not dead at the time he was discovered, but although he lingered for nearly an hour, he was unable to give any account of the affair. It is supposed that on going into his quarters he met with some one intent upon plunder, and that, in endeavouring to prevent the thief from leaving the premises, he was shot. Appearances infer that a struggle took place, as the things in the room are disarranged. One of the most peculiar circumstances connected with the mystery is that the revolver with which the murder was committed, and which was found some distance from the deceased, was taken from the quarters of another officer, and that the bullets were stolen from the quarters of another. Five chambers of the revolver were loaded when the weapon was found. A heavy poker, with which the deceased had apparently armed himself, was not far from him when he was discovered. Colonel Sir John Stokes, commandant of the School of Military Engineering, is causing the strictest inquiry to be made into the matter. The deceased was a very popular officer, and his death has cast quite a gloom over the garrison.
On inquiry at Chatham on Saturday evening, the special correspondent of the Press Association ascertained that according to the medical testimony the death of Lieutenant Roper is not ascribable to a murder. Groans having been heard by one of the female attendants at about 8.30 on Friday evening, she went to the spot and found the lieutenant with his head upwards on the first floor of his quarters, the pistol being discovered a short distance off. The revolver has been identified as belonging to Lieut. Sholbert, of the Royal Engineers, who occupies rooms in the same building as the deceased. Lieut. Sholbert asserts that he never loaded the revolver, which is quite new, and that he had no ammunition for it. A pouch with six cartridges was also found near deceased. Nothing appeared to have been stolen. None of the sentries on duty near the place heard the sound of firearms, and no person was seen either leaving or entering the building at the time when it is supposed that the murder, if murder it be, must have been committed.


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Offline kyn

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Re: A Murder Mystery at Brompton Barracks - 1881
« Reply #6 on: November 08, 2011, 13:33:08 »
They are  :)

Offline Leofwine

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Re: A Murder Mystery at Brompton Barracks - 1881
« Reply #5 on: November 08, 2011, 13:27:12 »
Are those quotes from the Times kyn?
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Re: A Murder Mystery at Brompton Barracks - 1881
« Reply #4 on: November 08, 2011, 12:30:44 »
10 Aug 1932
Sapper Percy Evans, aged about 20, of the Training Battalion, Royal Engineers, died in hospital at Chatham on Monday night (8th) as the result of a bullet wound in the chest.  Earlier he had been found unconscious in a room at Brompton Barracks, Chatham, where he was stationed.  His rifle, which he had been cleaning, was lying beside him.

17 February 1881
The Chatham murder – The funeral of Lieutenant Percy L.O. Roper, Royal Engineers, who was found murdered in his quarters at Brompton barracks, Chatham, on Friday, took place with full military honours at Gillingham Cemetery.

22 February 1881
The adjourned inquiry as to the death of Lieutenant Percy L.O. Roper, Royal Engineers, who was found dead on the stairs leading to his quarters at Brompton Barracks, Chatham, on Friday evening, the 11th inst., was resumed by Mr. W.J. Harris, coroner, at Brompton Barracks, yesterday.  The lecture-theatre, in which the inquiry was held, was again crowed.

1st March 1881
Yesterday Mr. W.J. Harris, one of the coroners for Kent, resumed the inquiry into the cause of death of Lieutenant Percy L.O. Roper, Royal Engineers, aged 21, who was found murdered on the stairs leading to his quarters at Brompton Barracks, on the 11th February.
Mr. Wonter now appeared on behalf of the War Office to watch the case.
Among the witnesses examined were the following:-
Margaret cruth, employed at the officers’ mess, said that she left the mess about a quarter to 9 on the evening of the 11th ult.  Just before getting to No.9 house, in which the deceased lived, she heard a crack as of a stick, and afterwards two or three moans.  She heard a scuffling on the stairs as well.  Three dogs came running out of the house as though they were frightened.
By Mr. Wonter – She saw no one come out of the house.  Had any one come out she must have seen him.
James Sharp, a sapper, who was on duty at the back of the quarters said that about 9 o’clock he heard a sharp crack as of a pistol.  There report came from an open window on a landing in the deceased’s house.  Witness watched the window for several minutes, but did not see any one at the window or pass by.
By Mr. Wonter – He did not leave his post from the time he went on duty until he went off.  He saw no one enter or leave the gateway leading to No.9 house.  It was possible for any one to have entered unobserved by hiding in the shadow of the wall and waiting until witness’s back was turned.
Sapper Thomas Plumbret and Corporal George Palmer, who were on duty at the main gate, which is right opposite to the passage leading to the back way of the officers’ quarters, said they did not see any strangers pass to or from the lane on the evening in question.
William James, sergeant of the guard, said he went to the house with a file of the guard just before 9.  They made a thorough examination of the lower part of the premises, but found no one, nor any traces of strangers having been there.  They did not examine the servant’s kitchens, not an empty kitchen.  They did not know at the time that there was an empty kitchen in the house.
Lieutenant S. Davidson, R.E., said he was at the mess on the evening in questions and sat at the back of the deceased.  Witness sent a note to the deceased asking if he would go to the entertainment in the barracks after mess.  The deceased sent a note in reply – “Dear Sir, - “I want to finish a letter bt will be glad to go a little later. – P.L.O.R.” – Subsequently, he had a talk with deceased, who said laughingly, “You had better look sharp, or you’ll not get a seat; don’t wait for me.”  He was of a decidedly cheerful disposition, and not at all likely to have committed suicide.
Lieutenant Herbert Stodhert, R.E.,, occupying a room next to the deceased’s, said on the night in question Lieutenant Mullaby told him of the occurrence.  Witness afterwards examined his room and found it in its usual state, with the exception that the revolved and case were missing.  He had jewellery lying about, but missed nothing.  A short man could not get the revolver from where it was hanging without disarranging the bed, but he did not notice that it was disarranged.  A tall man could reach the revolver without touching the bed.  Witness had tried to get cartridges for it, but without success.
Mr. E. Palmer, gunsmith, Rochester, said about half past 5 on the afternoon of the 11th he sold a box of cartridges similar to those found on the landing.  He had only one box.  The person who bought them was a military looking man.  Witness took him to be an officer.  Witness had had the box in stock about a twelvemonth.  Witness could not identify the person who purchased them.  He had seen photographs of the deceased but he was not the purchaser.  Only one chamber of the revolver had been fired.  The person who purchased the cartridges was between 30 and 35 years of age.
Lieutenant Kelly was called to prove that at the time named by Mr. Palmer the deceased was attending a lecture at the Royal Engineer Institute.
The jury, after being absent about three-quarters of an hour, found that “deceased had been murdered by some person or persons unknown,” and recommended hat application should be made to the Home Secretary to offer a reward for the discovery of the murderer.
The coroner said that steps had already been taken to that end.

3rd May 1881
A discovery was made on Sunday (1st) afternoon which it is thought may have some connexion with the murder of Lieutenant Roper, R.E., at Brompton barracks, Chatham, in February last. As some boys were playing on the chalk cliff at the rear of the mess of the Royal Engineers officers, one of them crawled into a hole, and there found a box containing 28 revolver cartridges, and a piece of paper and string with which the box had been apparently tied up.  The cartridges were precisely similar in size to the one with which the deceased officer was shot, and also to those found upon the staircase leading to his quarters, where the murder was committed.  The hole in which they were found would be passed by any one going from the rear of the deceased officer’s quarters to the road leading to the Dockyard Extension Works.  The matter was at once reported to the police, and Detective Sergeant Clark, Metropolitan Police, stationed at Chatham Dockyard, is prosecuting inquiries.

23rd July 1881
The murder of Lieutenant Roper. – The officers of the Royal Engineers have increased the reward of £100 to £500 for the discovery of the murderer of Lieutenant Roper, who was found shot on the stairs leading to his quarters in Brompton Barracks on the night of the 11th February.  The Government also offered a reward of £100.

merc

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Re: A Murder Mystery at Brompton Barracks - 1881
« Reply #3 on: March 25, 2010, 21:32:06 »
Another suspect was a convict named Percy Lefroy Mapleton. He was in prison at Lewes Gaol, awaiting execution for the murder of a Mr Gold, who he had robbed and killed on a Brighton train. One morning however, he confessed to the prison Chaplain that he had also murdered Lieutenant Roper.

The Police at Chatham did not believe Lefroy was the murderer, and that he had made the statement with the object of getting his execution delayed. Much of Lefroy's confession did not add up, including a claim that he had bought the gun that killed Lieutenant Roper from The Strand, in London, when in fact the gun that had been used to shoot the deceased had been from Lieutenant Stodhert's room. Mr Dutton, Lefroy's solicitor, said that the convict was of an unsound mind, and later Lefroy retracted his statement of murdering Lieutenant Roper.

Percy Lefroy Mapleton, was hanged at Lewes Gaol, on Tuesday, November 29th, 1881.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Percy_Lefroy_Mapleton

merc

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Re: A Murder Mystery at Brompton Barracks - 1881
« Reply #2 on: March 24, 2010, 13:20:28 »
In Leamington Spa, an Alfred Johnson aka Arthur Jardine, a commercial traveller, confessed to the murder and was remanded in custody. However, no case was found against him and he was released but accused of waisting Police time. He was familiar with Chatham Barracks and maybe Brompton Barracks as well. Although considered a crank seeking attention, his appearance did resemble the description given by the Gunsmith, at Rochester...

merc

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A Murder Mystery at Brompton Barracks - 1881
« Reply #1 on: March 23, 2010, 23:22:49 »
Lieutenant Percy Lyon Ormsby Roper, Royal Engineers, aged 21, was found shot dead on the stairs leading to his quarters at house No. 9, Brompton Barracks, 11th February, 1881. The Inquiry into his death was held in the Lecture Theatre at the Barracks, by Coroner, Mr W J Harris.

Lieutenant Roper had been in good spirits because he had just finished his two years studies at the School of Military Engineering, and was to report to Horse Guards, in London, the following day to show his work, and then to proceed on leave untill he recieved a posting.

Lieutenant Stuart Davidson, said he was in the mess on the evening of the murder. He had earlier sent a note to the deceased inviting him to some entertainment in the Lecture Theatre, but had got a reply saying Lieutenant Roper wanted to finish writing a letter and would join him later.

Margaret Cruft, employed at the Officers Mess, said that she left the mess at about a quarter to 9 on the evening, and just before getting to Lieutenants Roper's house on the Barrack's Square, she heard a crack as of a stick, and afterwards two or three moans. She also heard a scuffling on the stairs, then three dogs came running out of the house as though they were frightened.

James Sharp, a Sapper who was on guard duty at the time, also heard a large crack, as of a pistol, but did not leave his post. He saw no one enter or leave the gateway leading to No. 9 house.

Lieutenant Herbert Stodhert, occupying a room next to the deceased, said on the night in question he was informed of the murder and afterwards his room was searched. It was found his revolver and case were missing, he had previously tried to get cartridges for it, but without success. He was not suspected of the murder.

Mr E Palmer, Gunsmith, Rochester, said he had sold a box of cartridges similar to those found near the body. The person who had bought them was a military looking man between 30 and 35,  possibly an Officer. He had seen photographs of the deceased, but he was not the purchaser of the cartridges.

The Jury, after being absent for about three quarters of an hour, found "Lieutenant Roper had been murdered by some person or persons unknown."


 

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