A murder and suicide of a shocking and determined character took place early yesterday morning in one of the distillery cottages in Lower North Street, Lurgan, the victims of the awful tragedy being a man named Daniel McConville and his wife. McConville, who was about thirty years of age, was a weaver in Woodville Factory, where the deceased woman is said to have been employed as a winder. The parties went to reside in North Street one week prior to the occurrence, and the only other occupant of the dwelling was their only child, a boy of five years old.
It appears that McConville had celebrated St. Patrick’s Day by drinking, and demanding more money from his wife on his return home on that evening. The demand for money led to a quarrel, in which the deceased woman was seriously assaulted and one of her eyes blackened. She then obtained a summons against her husband, and went to the house of her parents in another part of the town. The summons was not served, however, as the summons-server was unable to find the man on the 19th, but on that night McConville sent for his wife, and induced her to return home after eleven o’clock. Shortly after that hour they were heard quarrelling again, and the fact that three whisky bottles were found in the house, and that the woman was fully dressed when she was murdered, lead to the conclusion that a drunken brawl had been carried on during the night, and that Mrs. McConville had not retired to bed.
Other circumstances go to show that the first act in the fearful tragedy took place at about five o’clock in the morning, and was witnessed by no one save the murderer and his child. The weapon employed was a heavy poker, and with this McConville attacked his wife and killed her, leaving her dead body lying on the floor of the bedroom (which is off the kitchen), with the skull broken. Soon afterwards he went out to the street and smashed the bedroom window of the next house, which is occupied by Mrs. Lavery. Blood on the window appears to indicate that he broke the glass with his fist. Mrs. Lavery was naturally alarmed, and although she did not hear him say anything, her hearing being defective, she saw him beckon her towards him, and then he disappeared. Mrs. Lavery hastened to dress herself and open the door, and then she met the deceased’s child, who informed her that his father had killed his mother. Mrs Lavery proceeded to arouse two neighbours named John McCann and George Creeney, who went for some distance in search of a policeman; but, failing to find one in the neighbourhood, they returned to the house, where, in the very dim light of the morning, they saw the woman’s corpse on the floor and the form of her husband on the bed.
The men then went to Union Street barracks, and procured the assistance of Constable Dougan and Hanna, who accompanied them to the scene of the occurrence, and on entering the bedroom the police found the man dying, his throat being cut almost from ear to ear. McConville was partially dressed when he broke Mrs. Lavery’s window. He seems then to have got hold of a razor, with which he inflicted the fatal wound, and, having placed the razor on the kitchen table, he got into bed, pulled the bed-clothing over him, and remained there until he bled to death. Dr. Magennis, J.P., was summoned early, but found life extinct on his arrival. The dwelling of the deceased people presented a ghastly appearance, and the place was visited by large numbers of persons during the day. Head-Constable Kirwin wired particulars to the divisonal coroner. During the sitting of the Court of petty sessions yesterday, a brother of the deceased woman applied to the magistrate for an order to remove her remains, but their Worships declined to interfere with the coroner’s authority.
One of the constables who first arrived at the scene of the murder stated that a pool of blood lay at the door, and in the bedroom the woman was found lying partly under the bed in her own blood. From her position and the appearance of the place he was under the impression that the row must have commenced in the kitchen, and then continued in the bedroom, the woman in her final efforts endeavouring to escape under the bed. McConville lay in the bed, his throat frightfully gashed. He was not cold at the time, but his heart was not beating. Still the constable tied up the throat, and the doctor was sent for. On his arrival all he could do was to pronounce life extinct. In the kitchen the constable found an open razor lying beside the case. It was covered with blood. On the floor was a poker, with which the woman’s skull had been battered in. It presented a shocking spectacle, covered as it was with blood and hair. The solitary witness of the tragedy is a son of the deceased, a child aged five years, who was unable to throw very much light upon it. When questioned concerning it, all he could say was that his father had struck his mother with the poker.
John McCann stated that he was awakened by Mrs. Lavery knocking at the door, and calling up to him to get up, that the man next door to her was murdering his wife. McCann opened his door and let in Mrs. Lavery and the son of deceased. He then went up to North Street, and when passing McConville’s door saw that it was lying open, and blood was streaming out of the door. He went up to town to find a policeman, but not succeeding, he returned, and, together with George Creeney, whom Mrs. Lavery had also aroused, entered the house, the hall and kitchen of which were covered with blood. They went into the bedroom, where they saw Mrs. McConville lying on the floor, on her right side, apparently dead. The two men then went to Union Street Barracks, and returned with the constables.
Mr. W. H. Atkinson, coroner for North Armagh, attended at the house of Mr. James McGeown, North Street, last evening, and opened an inquiry into the circumstances attending the deaths of Mary Ann and Daniel McConville. Head-Constable Kirwan and Sergeant Irwin conducted the proceedings on behalf of the Crown.
William John Lennon said he lived in Arthur Street, Lurgan, and the deceased woman was his daughter. Her age was twenty-seven, and her husband’s age was thirty-five. He last saw his daughter alive at 5.30 o’clock on the previous evening, when she left his house, where she had been staying since the 17th inst. They had two or three quarrels previously during their six years of married life.
Dr. Magennis, J.P., deposed that at a few minutes past seven that morning he was called to the house of the deceased, and found his wife lying on the floor with pools of blood round her. She had one large fracture in front of the skull and four wounds on the back of the head. The front wound was sufficient to cause death, and the brain was visible. She must have been dead an hour or two at least. The iron bar (produced) had blood and hair on it, and was sufficient to inflict the principal wound. The husband was in bed, and had a terrible gash across his throat, the windpipe and all the tissues being severed to the vertebrae. The blood-stained razor (produced) would inflict that wound. He had died more recently than his wife, and the cause of death was hemorrhage from the wound. Witness saw the woman on the 18th inst. in her father’s house. She had then a black eye and contusions on one of her thighs, which she said were inflicted by her husband. On the 19th inst. the deceased woman and her father and mother said they only wanted to have the man bound over. Witness said they could do that by summons, and they left to get a summons. Witness knew there was danger, and warned her strongly against going back to her husband. The deceased was a very industrious woman.
Henry Haddock said he lived in Brown Street, and saw the deceased man and his wife on the previous night. They were in his house till 10.30, and he left them in their own house in Distillery Row at 11.30. They were on good terms then.
Jane Lavery said she lived next door to the deceased. She was awakened at five o’clock that morning, and the deceased man was standing outside with his child. The man beckoned on her with his finger, and moved his lips, but never spoke. The child cried, “He has killed my ma; he has killed my ma. He hit her on the head with a poker, and she’s lying on the floor.” On going to the house witness saw blood on the wall and in the hall. She did not go in, but went for two men in Lake Street, and when they returned and looked through the window the man was in bed and moving. John McCann then went for the police.
To Head-Constable Kirwan – A lamp was lit in the house at the time.
Constable Hanna deposed that he went to the house of the deceased in company with Constable Dougan that morning. The woman was lying on her face dressed, with her legs partly under the bed. They turned her over, and found her quite dead and the body cold. The man was lying on the bed, and there was a slight twitching of the muscles, but the heart had ceased to beat. They found the blood-stained razor and the bar in the kitchen. They tied a cloth round the man’s neck, and the Roman Catholic clergyman and the doctor were all once sent for.
The Coroner, in summing up, said the case was the worst he had come across in his experience. The woman had been warned by Dr. Magennis, and if she had taken his advice the tragedy would not have taken place. Dr. Magennis thought the man was not in his right mind when he committed the deed, but it was for the jury to say whether he was insane or not.
The jury found that the deceased, Mary Ann McConville, came to her death by a fracture of the skull, produced by blows inflicted by her husband while in a state of unsound mind, and that Daniel McConville died of hemorrhage from a wound on the throat, inflicted by himself while temporarily insane.