New York Daily News
IT WAS TRUE GLOVE
Bloody affair spurs modern forensics
IF EMILY BEILBY Kaye has a legacy, it is this: Rubber gloves. Thanks to her, investigators started wearing them regularly while handling evidence at crime scenes. Bernard Spilsbury, the British celebrity pathologist, came up with the idea as he moved from room to room in a seaside bungalow that held Kaye’s remains — blood, pieces of charred bone, chunks of flesh, congealed fat in a tureen, and sections of body, but no head.
As Spilsbury scanned the grisly scene, he noticed a police officer picking up pieces with his bare hands and dumping them into a container.
Spilsbury decided then and there that something had to be done about crime scene procedures, wrote Colin Evans in “The Father of Forensics.”
But first, Spilsbury had to attend to the more pressing issue of bringing Kaye’s killer to justice.
Love had lured her to that bungalow and to her gruesome end in the middle of April 1924.
Kaye had met her killer about a year earlier, when the London accounting firm where she worked was called in to close the books on a failing company. One of the executives, Patrick Mahon, 33, took a shine to her and they began an affair.
Kaye was aware that her charming swain was a two-timing tomcat. That didn’t hold her back. She really believed that he was going to dump his wife of 14 years and kids to start a new life.
It’s unknown if she was aware of his criminal record, which included two stints in prison. First was for a forged a check to get the cash to finance a vacation with another woman. Then there was the 1916 bank robbery, in which he beat a woman with a hammer.
Loyal to a fault, his wife waited for him. When his sentence was up in 1921, she got him a salesman’s job at the firm where she worked. With his good looks, charisma, and talent for pleasant banter, he became a success.
Soon he was up to his old tricks. When Kaye met him, she was 37 and unmarried. After years of working as a typist, she had put together a tidy nest egg.
Before long, she was pregnant, desperate, almost out of cash, and speaking freely of how her future husband was going to run away with her to Africa.
She began to nag Mahon to leave his wife. He instead persuaded her to try a “love experiment” in a hideaway, a bungalow along a beach known as the Crumbles, near the resort of Eastbourne. Neighbors said they had spotted
Kaye in mid-April, but she vanished after that.
Around the same time, Mahon had started keeping company with Ethel Primrose Duncan, 32, and entered a new flirtation. By April 18, Mahon, calling himself Patrick Waller, had lured Duncan to the bungalow. Duncan would later testify that she noticed some odd things — lady’s belongings, and bandages and bruises on her date.
She had no reason to suspect that there was another woman in the love nest, dead and stuffed in a trunk. Duncan stayed for a few days, then returned home and waited for Mahon to call again. He never did.
About two weeks after Mahon’s date with Duncan, his wife suspected that he was up to his old tricks and did what every woman does when she thinks her man is running around. She went through his pockets.
There she found a claim ticket for luggage at the Waterloo train station, and asked a friend to check it. When he found a bag containing a knife and bloomers stained with blood, he contacted police.
A few days later, Mahon tried to retrieve the bag and was taken into custody. Asked about the bloody bloomers, he blurted out, “I suppose I carried home meat for the dogs in it.”
After a few moments of silence, he said, “I’ll tell you the truth.”
He insisted it was an accident. During a violent quarrel, he said, he knocked Emily Kaye down. She hit her head on a coal bucket and died.
What else could he do but dismember the body and get rid of it, bit by bit, even if it meant flinging pieces off a moving train?
As to what had become of her head, Mahon told a harrowing story. He tried burning it, he said, but as flames consumed the head, the dead girl’s eyes popped open. At the same moment, there was a terrific clap of thunder. Mahon fled. When he returned, there was nothing left but ashes, which he scattered along the beach.
Spilsbury did the best he could to determine a cause of death, but even he could find nothing. He told the court that Kaye had likely died because of some fatal wound to the head or limbs, but without the parts it was impossible to say for sure. He said he was certain, however, that Mahon’s version of events could not be true, especially the part about the death being accidental.
The jury quickly found Mahon guilty and sent him to the gallows in September.
After the execution, Spilsbury urged Scotland Yard to review handling of evidence, and this would lead to the introduction of the “murder bag,” a kit of essentials for investigating the scene of a homicide. These included forceps, a tape measure, a magnifying glass, sample bags, and, most important, rubber gloves.