Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Sweeney Todd

A Third Murder

Sweeney Todd's name is brought up in connection with a third murder shortly after. An apprentice, apparently on an errand for his master, stopped off in Todd's shop for a haircut and let loose with the comment that he was carrying a large sum for his employer. That remark sealed his doom, and although the master came looking for the boy in Todd's barbershop, no trace of the boy was ever found and Sweeney Todd was not made to answer for that crime.

Later, another man who was seen in heated conversation with Sweeney Todd turned up brutally murdered his throat was slit and his back broken. Again Todd was questioned, but nothing came of it.

Todd later killed a Jewish pawnbroker near his shop, but interestingly the murder was excused as "temporary insanity" perhaps a bit of anti-Semitism came into play and once again Todd cheated the hangman.

The only detailed record of a murder occurring in Sweeney Todd's shop is sheer conjecture, but the facts seem to fit and personal property of the victim were found among Sweeney's effects. A beadle, or minor security official at St. Bartholomew's Hospital near Fleet Street, who was notorious for his fastidiousness ducked into Todd's shop on his way to work one evening, as he was unhappy with his appearance. Apparently, during conversation with Todd, the beadle, Thomas Shadwell, proudly displayed his gold pocket watch, which had been given for a number of years' service to St. Bart's. Sweeney Todd felt that the watch was worth killing for and dispatched Shadwell via his trap door. No trace was ever found of Shadwell, but his watch was found in a cupboard in Sweeney's home after his arrest. Shadwell's son later became a minor celebrity, recounting his father's death at the hands of the Demon Barber. Shadwell's death is notable among the various crimes for which Todd was accused simply because it was one of the few where actual details of the events which transpired in the shop were known.

As more people entered his shop never to be seen again, rumors sprang up in the neighborhood about the mad barber, and whispers of what really went on in his shop were passed from gossip to gossip. No one ever thought to contact the Bow Street Runners, however. "It was true that all sorts of unpleasant rumours and surmises began to be whispered regarding him, but no one could prove that he had anything to do with (the) disappearances."


We're Following
Slender Man stabbing, Waukesha, Wisconsin
Gilberto Valle 'Cannibal Cop'