Date Of Execution: 16 May 1882
Execution Place: Sunderland
Murder of MARIA FITZSIMONS in 1869; Sunderland
On 19 February, 1869, Maria Fitzsimmons, a prostitute who worked the docks at Sunderland, was seen drinking in the company of a sailor. Early next morning her body was found in her room; she had been stabbed ten times, nine of which had pierced her heart. A sailor called Anderson was arrested next day but later that week a note was found which was signed by 'A monster in human form.' The note claimed that Anderson was innocent and that its author was the real killer and on his way to America. With no real evidence against Anderson, he was released and the case left unsolved, despite someone offering one hundred pounds to catch the killer. Twenty years later, in the spring of 1879, Thomas Fury, aka Wright, also a sailor, was arrested on a charge of burglary and attempted murder at Norwich. Soon after his arrest, he enquired whether the reward offered for information on the killing of Maria Fitzsimmons could still be claimed, as he said he could identify the killer. When told it wasn't. he said no more about it. He was tried for the attempted murder and sentenced to fifteen years at Pentonville, but no sooner had he started his sentence than he asked to see a police inspector and confessed he had murdered Fitzsimmons. Fury said he'd awoken after spending the night with her to find her attempting to strangle him with a cord. He knocked her down, pulled out his knife and stabbed her. He was taken back to Durham. convicted at the summer Assizes entirely on his own testimony. and hanged by Marwood. He confided to a guard that he had confessed in order to escape the torture of prison.