Date Of Execution: 11 Aug 1903
Crime Location: 12 Alexandra Road, Thames Ditton
Execution Place: Wandsworth
Executioner: Henry Pierrepoint
William Tuffen and Mary Stone were convicted of the murder of William Tuffen's wife Caroline Tuffen 21 and sentenced to death.
William Tuffen was executed but Mary Stone was reprieved.
William Tuffen and Caroline Tuffen had been married two years earlier and later went to live at 12 Alexandra Road in Thames Ditton. However William Tuffen had started to see Mary Stone and she too went to live at 12 Alexandra Road with William Tuffen and Caroline Tuffen. Later on William Tuffen and Mary Stone beat Caroline Tuffen to death and kept her death a secret.
After the murder William Tuffen told Caroline Tuffen's brother that Caroline Tuffen had died naturally and was buried in Thames Ditton Churchyard but after he failed to keep his promise to show him where in the churchyard she was buried the brother went with the police to 12 Alexandra Road were they discovered the mutilated body of Caroline Tuffen who was hidden in a locked room with a bloody hammer and hatchet.
She had been 7-months pregnant at the time.
After the murder the court heard that William Tuffen had told people that Mary Stone was his wife and that Mary Stone had been seen to be carrying around Caroline Tuffen's baby.
When arrested Mary Stone said that Caroline Tuffen must have committed suicide.
A witness had seen William Tuffen pulling and pushing his wife about on 23 April and that four days later the blinds were down.
On 4 May a caller had been told by Mary Stone that Caroline Tuffen had gone away.
The police later went to 12 Alexandra Road and gained entry and after noticing a bad smell they forced the door to a bedroom and found Caroline Tuffen dead in the bed.
The general timeline of events is as follows:
Caroline Tuffen's brother, who lived at Platts Cottages in Horsell Road, Woking and was a carman said that Caroline Tuffen, born William Griffin, had been a domestic servant and used to lodge at 42 Elm Road in Norbiton with William Tuffen's mother.
He said that he had been present on 13 July 1901 at St Luke's Kingston when she married William Tuffen and had a copy of their marriage certificate. He said that they then went to live at Elm Road for some time and then Wimbledon after which they went to live at 12 Alexandra Road in Thames Ditton. He noted that he had not seen them since they went to live in Alexandra Road.
He said that he knew Mary Stone as a domestic servant, knowing her as 'Mary'.
He said that in consequence of information he received on Tuesday 5 May 1903 regarding the death of Caroline Tuffen he went to Elm Road where he saw William Tuffen's mother and then went on 6 May 1903 to 12 Alexandra Road. He said that he went in the morning and knocked at the door but got no answer. He said that he then made enquiries and soon after saw Mary Stone in Summer Road but that she pretended that she didn't know him. He said that he asked her, 'Do you know where Bill Tuffen is?', and said that she replied, 'No I don't'. He said that he then asked her, 'Are you not the Mary I knew in Kingston?' and said that she replied, 'You are mistaken'. He said that he then said, 'I beg your pardon'.
However, he said that he had no doubt that she was the woman that he had known as 'Mary'.
He said that he saw William Tuffen about an hour later around 12.30pm and shook hands with him and said that it was a sad thing about his sister to which he replied, 'Yes'.
He said that he then asked William Tuffen to show him the grave and said that William Tuffen told him that she had been buried in Thames Ditton Churchyard. He said that he asked him again to show him the grave and that they then started to walk off towards the graveyard.
He said that William Tuffen then told him that Caroline Tuffen had died in her confinement.
He said that he asked William Tuffen if she had had a bad time and William Tuffen replied, 'Awful'.
He said that he then asked William Tuffen whether she had had a doctor with her and he told him that she had had a certified nurse.
He said that they got to the corner when a man came along and that William Tuffen then said to him, 'I want to speak to my mate' and they all went away together to the George & Dragon public house where they remained for about half-an-hour after which they walked back to the corner where the road was up and the other man went away.
He said that after the man went off that he asked William Tuffen again to show him where the grave was and that William Tuffen said that he would do so presently. Caroline Tuffen's brother said, 'It will only take you five minutes'. However, they then went to the Mason Arms public house and went in. He said that he asked William Tuffen again to show him the grave and they then walked back but William Tuffen refused to go until he had seen a man to shift his furniture.
Caroline Tuffen's brother said that he then made enquiries and went home that night.
He noted that William Tuffen had told him that he had written to his uncle concerning Caroline Tuffen's death as he had not known his address.
Caroline Tuffen's brother said that he went to 12 Alexandra Road with a police inspector on 7 May 1903 and that when he went into the front room he saw the body of Caroline Tuffen on the bed.
He noted that he had not seen William Tuffen for the previous three months and said that he had always seemed to him to be a quiet inoffensive man. He said that when he saw him on the 6 May 1903 that he had showed no difference and was the same as usual.
The landlord of 12 Alexandra Road who was a retired Civil Servant that lived in Park Lodge, Hampton said that William Tuffen came to him on about the end of February 1903 with regard to taking the house. He said that when he asked him his occupation William Tuffen told him 'Nothing', adding that they had come into some money. He said that he asked for a reference and was satisfied and that he let the house to him at 8/- a week about 2 March 1903 and that he called for the rent weekly.
He said that he knew Caroline Tuffen as William Tuffen's wife and understood that Mary Stone was a friend.
He said that he called on 4 May 1903 for the rent and met Mary Stone who told him that Caroline Tuffen would be home the next day and that she would settle up with him then. He said that he was satisfied and went away.
He said that on the morning of 7 May 1903 that he was on Hampton Court Bridge at 12.20am when he stopped and saw William Tuffen and Mary Stone heading in the direction of Hampton Court.
A 21-year-old engine driver that lived at Riverholme in Alexandra Road said that he met William Tuffen at the Albany public house on 5 April 1903 and had a drink with him and said that William Tuffen then asked him to go to Hampton Court with him. He said that on the way he met Mary Stone and Caroline Tuffen with a child in a perambulator. He said that they walked there and back.
He noted that William Tuffen and Mary Stone were kissing and cuddling one another whilst Caroline Tuffen was pushing the baby in front but said that he could not say that Caroline Tuffen saw what was happening.
He said that he left them that night at 9pm. He said that he had since been to 12 Alexandra Road three or four times on which occasions he had also seen Caroline Tuffen but said that the last time he went was on 29 April 1903 at which time he did not recall seeing her.
He said that William Tuffen had often told him that Mary Stone was his wife and had later told him that his wife was away after he had asked him why he was wearing a black band on his arm and why the blinds in his front rooms were down, noting that William Tuffen had also told him that his wife was staying at a place where a woman had died.
He added that he last saw Caroline Tuffen about two or three days before Easter.
He said that he had pretty often been in William Tuffen's company and had seen Mary Stone with him on 2 May 1903.
He said that on 6 May 1903 that he saw William Tuffen with Caroline Tuffen's brother and said that William Tuffen called him over and said, 'I have got a mate here I want to get shut of him' and gave him 6d and told him to take them to the George and Dragon and treat them, which he did so and they had drinks.
He said that they then went to the top of Ashley Road and that Caroline Tuffen's brother asked William Tuffen to show him the grave and that William Tuffen then said, 'The gates are shut'. However, the engine driver corrected him and said, 'No they are always open to anybody'.
He said that William Tuffen then told him to go and get the van, noting that he didn't know what he meant but that he went anyway. He said that when he met them again shortly after that he said to William Tuffen, 'The vans round'.
He noted that when he was last in 12 Alexandra Road on 29 April 1903 that Mary Stone was at the house and that she was at that time sitting in William Tuffen's lap and appeared to be living in the house.
He noted that William Tuffen said to him on 5 May 1903, 'If you wanted to make an end of yourself would you put your head on the rail or make a hole in the water?'.
A labourer who lived in Queen Street, Thames Ditton said that he had been in the Albany public house on 23 April 1903 at about 8pm when he saw William Tuffen who he said offered to buy him a drink and borrowed 10d from a man there. He said that William Tuffen then said, 'I have got no money now I will go home and get some'. He said that William Tuffen was gone about a quarter of an hour and that he then returned with Caroline Tuffen and called for two glasses of port and a pot of ale and threw down a sovereign and picked up the change and put it in his pocket.
He said that William Tuffen and Caroline Tuffen then each had another glass of port and that after that, at about 9.30pm, William Tuffen asked Caroline Tuffen again but she said no. He said that William Tuffen then said roughly to her, 'Go on home' and that Caroline Tuffen then went out. He said that William Tuffen stopped for about ten minutes after which Mary Stone came in and went up to the bar where William Tuffen was standing.
He said that he left the pub at about 10pm and never saw Caroline Tuffen again.
A medical practitioner at Teddington said that Mary Stone had been in his employ from July 1902 until March 1903 and that she was visited about twice by William Tuffen. He said that when she left she told him that she was going to be married about six weeks before she left and noted that when she told him that that William Tuffen had been with her. He added that Mary Stone had been a very good servant, quiet and inoffensive and said that a better servant never lived and that they were very sorry when she left.
Another labourer who had lived in Queen's Road that had been in the Albany public house at the same time corroborated that other labourers evidence and noted that after 23 April 1903 that he frequently saw William Tuffen and Mary Stone together.
The wife of a policeman who lived at 23 Alexandra Road said that she recalled standing at her door on 23 April 1903 at about 11 o'clock and seeing William Tuffen and Caroline Tuffen come out of 12 Alexandra Road and head off towards the Albany public house. She said that as they passed her that she heard William Tuffen say, 'I will break that cat's blasted back'. She said that she saw them come back at about 11.15 still waiting for her husband and saw William Tuffen pushing Caroline Tuffen backwards and forwards.
She said that they then entered 12 Alexandra Road and that that was the last time she saw Caroline Tuffen but that since then she had seen William Tuffen and Mary Stone together frequently.
She said that on Sunday 27 April 1903 that she noted that the front blinds at 12 Alexandra Road were down.
A woman that lived 8 Queens Road said that she had been standing at her door on 24 April 1903 at about 9.15am when she saw Mary Stone go towards the Albany public house with a baby in her arms. She said that she then saw her go back towards Alexandra Road and then come back with a perambulator and that William Tuffen then came from the direction of the Albany and joined her in Summer Road.
A woman that lived at 12 Clump Terrace whic backed onto 12 Alexandra Road said that she knew Caroline Tuffen and had frequently seen her and Mary Stone coming out of the house. She said that on Wednesday 22 April 1903 that she saw Caroline Tuffen hanging up clothes but that after that she never saw her again.
She said that on 26 April 1903 that she saw Mary Stone standing at the kitchen window with Caroline Tuffen's baby and that after 23 April 1903 that she frequently saw Mary Stone coming out of the back door and locking it. She added that after 23 April 1903 that there was always a light on in the back windows both upstairs and down and that they were on all night.
She noted that William Tuffen and Caroline Tuffen used to quarrel very much.
She said that she never spoke to Caroline Tuffen and only nodded.
An agent with the Wesleyan and General Insurance Society of Birmingham who lived in Lindon Crescent, Norbiton, said that Caroline Tuffen was insured with his office for £16. 6. 0. and that on 5 May 1903 in consequence of information he received that he saw William Tuffen at Elm Road and asked him if he was going to make a claim about poor Kate and said that William Tuffen told him that he knew nothing about it and that he didn't know that she was insured. The agent then said, 'I should think it would come all the sweeter but you must claim at once as the lapse notice expires today'.
He said that William Tuffen then told him that he did not think that he would see about it as he had made arrangements to go up to the North by boat but that he afterwards said that he would see about it and the agent gave him a form that he then signed in his presence. The agent noted that he told William Tuffen that he would need to get a certificate which he said William Tuffen said he would see about.
He said that William Tuffen told him that Caroline Tuffen had died from a miscarriage and had been ill for an hour.
He said that William Tuffen called on him on 6 May 1903 at his house and told him that he had been too late in getting the certificate. William Tuffen then said, 'I have had a letter from Kate's uncle to go to Woking and have left word with the Nurse to get the certificate and will call this evening with it' to which the agent replied, 'Make haste as the lapse time has expired'. He said that William Tuffen then said, 'I have a great expense with the funeral could you lend me 2 or 3 shilling as I will make it all right when I get the insurance'.
He noted that William Tuffen had been very reluctant in filling the form out and that when he had seen him at his mother’s he had been depressed and low spirited.
The policeman that lived at 23 Alexandra Road said that on 7 May 1903 at about 12.15am he took the key to his house and entered 12 Alexandra Road. They had been keeping an eye on the house through the night and entered the following day in the early hours, 7 May. He said that upon entering he noticed a very bad smell and found that the front top room was locked and that there was no key in it. He then forced the door and found Caroline Tuffen lying on the bed partly dressed with a pillow pressed down over her face. He said that when he moved the pillow that he noticed that her head was decomposed and that after he went off to get more police.
A police sergeant said that on the evening of 6 May 1903 that he went to 12 Alexandra Road at about 9.30pm and knocked at the door but got no reply.
He said that he then went to Summer Road where he met Mary Stone and asked her whether she lived at 12 Alexandra Road to which she replied, 'Yes' and when she was asked her name she replied, 'Mrs Mary Tuffen' and that her husband was William Tuffen. He said that when he asked her whether anyone else had been living at the house she said, 'Kate Griffin' and then added, 'We have all been out today together and I went into a shop and coming out I missed them'. She then said that she could not get in until she found her husband as he had the key.
The police sergeant said that he kept observation on the house until 12.30 when he was joined by the policeman that lived at 23 Alexandra Road and then went into the house and found Caroline Tuffen's body on the bed.
He noted that there was an axe on the bed near the foot and a hammer on the chair near the bed as well as string round Caroline Tuffen's neck.
After the police spoke to Mary Stone she went off to Washington Road in Norbiton where she arrived at 12.45am on 7 May 1903 with William Tuffen and asked to stay for the night. They left the following morning at about 11.30am.
William Tuffen and Mary Stone were arrested soon after at Norbiton Railway Station at about 11.50am 7 May 1903. A policeman that had been on duty there said that he saw them on the platform and went up to them and asked them where they were going and that they said, 'Up to London'. He said that he then asked William Tuffen, 'What's your name William Tuffen', and that William Tuffen said, 'Yes that’s my wife'. The policeman then told them that he should arrest them for wilful murder and sent for assistance. William Tuffen then said, 'I don't know anything about it don't take hold of me'.
He said that he then found the key to 12 Alexandra Road on William Tuffen.
A Divisional Surgeon said that on 7 May 1903 at about 1.10am that he went to 12 Alexandra Road. He said:
'As I entered the house I noticed that it reeked of the smell of decomposition of some body. I went to the 1st floor front where I found on the bed the partly dressed body of a woman lying on its back the head lying with its left side uppermost facing the door. On the left side of the head distributed over the vertex of the temporal region there were several large wounds some caused by the use of a heavy sharp instrument and one in the temporal region caused by some blunt instrument. The face was most swollen and discoloured by decomposition. The scalp was too much decomposed to accurately delineate the injuries from a superficial examination. There were two ligatures tied round the neck, one of tarred twine and one of tape and a pillow covered with blood was at the side of the bed. Splashes of blood were on the head of the bed and high up on the wall . On 8th May I made a post mortem examination of the body with another doctor.
It was the body of a woman well developed and apparently between 20 and 25 years of age. She was wearing a wedding ring. It was partially dressed in a black bodice, chemise, pink woollen vest and stockings. Rigidity was absent. Decomposition very advanced in the head and face and the features were unrecognisable, the tongue slightly protruded. The skin of the skull and face was of a darkish green colour. Also the neck and shoulders the epidermis peeling off in patches. The rest was less decomposed but there was much post mortem staining over the back of the thorax the lumbar region and legs. The tarred twine was tied round the neck in a double strand and the tape in the same way. The hands were blood stained but uninjured the fingers shrivelled and dry. There was no indication of a struggle. The face and head were much swollen and in removing the scalp I found the following injuries:
The brain was a green diffluent mass full of maggots and the base of the skull was free from injury.
There was no other injury.
There was a 7 months foetus of a female child.
I formed the opinion that the injuries had probably been inflicted about 14 days before.
The axe produced would be quite sufficient to cause all the injuries. There is blood and hair on the axe. All but Nos 1, 5 and 6 would have caused death. Insensibility would have been caused by every wound except No 5.
No 2 wound must have been inflicted when deceased was in an upright position probably sitting up.
The injuries could not have been self-inflicted. The string and tape round the neck had nothing to do with the cause of death.
The actual cause was the extensive wounds on the skull and haemorrhage.
The body was practically empty of blood.
The violence of the blows was very great.'.
When William Tuffen was charged he said, 'I know nothing about it I have nothing to say, how about the other young woman how is she going on?'.
When Mary Stone was charged she said, 'I know nothing of it he knows I am innocent although I was in the house. He brought the little one to me to mind'.
At their trial at the Surrey Summer Assizes at Guildford, the judge said that it was clear that Caroline Tuffen was murdered with an axe and noted that the only plea raised was that the crime was so brutal that he must have been insane at the time, a theory that the judge said he refused to accept. He then went on to say that the only thing the jury had to consider was whether Mary Stone had been with him at the time, noting that if so, then she was equally guilty.
The jury retired for about 35 minutes before returning with guilty verdicts against both William Tuffen and Mary Stone.
William Tuffen was executed on 11 August 1903 at Wandsworth.
Mary Stone was sentenced to death but reprieved and was later released from the Homes of the Holy Redeemer at Duxhurst, Reigate on 2 August 1923.
Although 12 Alexandra Road exists today, Roas Villa, it is not the same building shown in the photograph in the Penny Illustrated Paper of Saturday 16 May 1903 which shows several children outside indicating that the property was redeveloped, the street numbers were changed or the photograph was of the wrong house.
see National Archives - HO 144/1791, PCOM 8/309
see Surrey Mirror - Friday 24 July 1903
see West Surrey Times - Saturday 25 July 1903
see Penny Illustrated Paper - Saturday 23 May 1903
see Penny Illustrated Paper - Saturday 16 May 1903