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Tragedy of Jealousy.
DEAD WIFE'S. LETTER.
VEBDICT OF INSANITY
Sensational statements as to the do mestic affairs of John Herbert Day, jhe Melbourne; Constable whose wife fired his house and ^ut her throat last Thursday, were- made during the course of the inqueston Tuesdav iipon the -bodies of the victims of the tra gedy. These were the wife, Lilian Ada Burfield Day, aged 37, whose charred remains were found in one of the rooms of the house at West Mel bourne which the family occupied; and her three children—Soy, aged 9 years;
Cyril, aged six years; and Violet, aged.: two years. Violet's death occurred in dhe house, and the two "boys after wards died in the hospital from the burns they had sustained.
John Herbert Day stated that he had been a police constable, but had now left, the service. He lived at . Chet -wynd-street, West Melbourne, with his wife and children. The only other oc cupant^ of the house. was his wife's step - sister, Hose Woodward. On Thursday afternoon he .had left his home about five minutes to 8 o'clock. He said good-bye to life wife, and kissed her. She -seemed all right. Rose Woodward was not there-at the time. About a quarter past 12 o'clock, while he was on duty in Bourke-street, Sen.
constable Appleby told ;him his house, vras on fire. He atoncedrove out, and was told that his wife had gone to look for him. He asked, "Where are rav children?'- and was taken to where the child Violet was in a neighbor's house. She was dead* He walked down the passage of his house into the kitchen, and found the body of his wife in a
To the Coroner, witness stated that he entered the children's room later with a sergeant. He found firewood, an old cement barrel, and rubbish in it. They were not there when he left home. The kerosene' tin was kept in the bathroom, and he thought that it was there when he left home. His birds had been removed from their accustomed places. His wife had told him she expected soon to be confined. She was excited on Thursday after npon. She had gone out with the baby (Violet) and Rose Woodward to look -for a situation for Rose. Later in the day she spoike to him on a matter relating to his position in the force. It had -been a constant worry to her
Sub-inspector Nolan here asked the coroner if he should' ask any ques tions relating to a letter in the hands
of the coroner.
The - coroner handed the letter to •Mr. Shannon, who said that he thought no good could result from its con tents being made public. The coro ner concurred in this opinion.
Witness, in reply to the coroner, said that he had always treated his wife properly, and given her no cause whatever Jor complaint, Rose Wood ward had lived in the house for about
Dr. C. H. Mollison, who conducted, the post-mortem on the body of the woman, said that death was due to hemorrhage from the wound in the neck. There had been- several at tempts made to cut the throat. He thought she was of unsound mind at
Rose Woodward, aged 20, single, step-sister of deceased, who is aeaf and short-sighted, stated that when she went to bed on the night of last Thursday Mrs. Day was in the kitchen writing a letter. She was awakened by her sister touching-her on the arm Her sj-ster led her into the dining room, which was on fire. AVitness screamed, and they struggled to
To the Coroner.—She appeared to be trying to put me on the fire. Some body came in and put me on my feet, And I rushed to the front verandah.
To sub-inspector Nolan.—I noticed nothing strange about Mrs. Day that afternoon. We had a conversation.
The Coroner.—What was it?
TV itness.—We had been out that afternoon to look for a* situation for me. The place was taken, and I said that I would try for one at Sandring ham. My sister wanted to know why I wanted to go so far from home. 1 said, "It is because I have learnt to love your husband." My sister did not make any reply. When I went to bed that night everything appeared to be the same as usual. By reason of my affliction I have never been able to earn a living.
Charles Frederick Buckl&nd, engine driver, residing at Chetwynd-street stated that on getting the alarm of fire that night he had gone into Day's house, and saw Mrs. Day and Miss Woodward struggling in the dining room, which was on fire. He was told the children were in the back room. He forced his way into the room and caught up Cyril and Roy, who were standing on the bed. The fires -were all separate, the one in the kitchen having no connection with the
one in the bedroom.
John Herbert Day, recalled, denied having ever made love to Rose Wood ward. He had never discussed the sub ject with his wife, nor said that he intended to keep Rose Woodward in the house. He was perfectly satis
fled that she should go when it was proposed. He had nothing to reproach himself for in tic: way in which he
had treated his sister-in-law."
The Coroner then said it was his in tention to allow the letter to be. made public. The > admission of the girl Woodward . practically completed the facta-as they were asserted in the let
ter. ' •
JMr. Shannon.—The "husband has al ready sworn that he gave no justifica
tion for the statements.
The Coroner.—He is to some extent inferentially contradicted by the letter. The girl confesses that she is fond of him, and thai inferentially sho^s that, he paid her some attention. T5ie letter was probably the one Mrs. Day was writing when Eose Woodward went to bed. The letter was as follows, and the envelope was addressed.to the chief commissioner of police:-- .
"March 3, 1910,
"17 Chefcwynd-streefc, W. Melbourne, "Dear Sir,—Enclosed are my certifi cate of marriage, also the birth cer tificate, to prove that Constable Day is John Herbert Day, and not Edwin Arthur, as he took his brother's name to get into the police, as he was over the age. His brother, Edwin Arthur Day, is a saddler living at.Wanga ratta. The. said John Herbert Day has wronged me, and completely bro-, ken my heart by carrying on with my sister, Hose Woodward, who is living with us. I was told to-day by her that she loves him, jaud cannot live without him; also he says he- will keep her. I intend to" an" >end to such wrong-doing. 1 am quite sane, and I suppose some people will say I am mad, but I aim not. -To live fee last two years over again I cannot—Dear sirj, I remain, yours- truly,
Sgd.) Lilian Ada Day, wife of the above
Continuing, the Coroner said he was not satisfied with the evidence of the husband. There seemed to be a lack of candor about it. That might be due to the fact that his memory had been shaken by the tragedy. There was no doubt the husband entered the police force under an assumed Chris tian hame. But for the statement of the girl Woodward, he would have felt justified in withholding publication of the letter. Evidently Mrs. Day, after lighting the fire went in to the girl's bedroom and endeavored to' drag her out and burn her with the children. Finding herself unable to do so, and being interrupted by a neighbour, 6he had rushed into the kitchen and cut
her throat. The children had died as j the result, of burns. It might be that J Day was innocent, and his record in
in the police force was a good one, but: there may. have been circumstances that hurried the tragedy.
A verdict was returned that. Lilian 1 Ada Binfield Day died from hemorr hage from a wound self-inflicted, and the children from burns received in a fire caused by Mrs. Day. He found %it at the time Mrs. Day was ment ally unsound.
Constable Day has been discharged from the police force. This step has been taken by the chief commissioner (Mr. O'Callaghan) in consequence of the fact disclosed in Mrs. Day's let ter, that her husband had joined the force under his brother's name. Hi3 correct name, he admits, is John Her bert Day, but he is on the police roll as Edwin Arthur. He states that he altered his name because he was over the age for joining—25 years. His real age was 27. Day's record of six years in the police has been particu larly good.