Bloody Mary: The Forgotten Prostitute
Four years after the blood and butchery of the Jack the Ripper killings whose macabre mutilations and sickening sadism had reached it’s cold and vile hand out from the the shadows and slums of Whitechapel to infect the national psyche as a whole, the small Welsh market town of Abergavenny was rocked to the core by its very own torrid and twisted tale of savage murder and prostitution.
It’s time to lift the lid off a little-know tale in the town’s history that plays itself out like a penny dreadful saga full of the hellish horrors of wanton bloodlust, twisted retribution, loose virtue, unmarked graves and finally - the inexorable and mocking swing of the hangman’s noose.
Straight out of Prison and into the Pub
It was another busy Friday night in Victorian Abergavenny, the date was September 16, 1892, and the public houses were heaving with the trade of customers eager for the high spirits and blessed oblivion to be found in a pint of beer or shot of whiskey. Yet for one reveller, this bawdy night of drunken abandon was to be her last.
Mary Conolly, a well-known alcoholic and prostitute was celebrating her release from Usk gaol after having spent the last 28 days there for being drunk and disorderly. Mary was renowned throughout town as a ‘slave to the bottle’ and during the day she had stumbled from one public house to the other, busily slating the thirst of the demon on her shoulder whilst toasting her newly-acquired liberty.
In her rounds of such pubs as the Foresters Arms and the Cross Keys Inn she was accompanied by a strange man not familiar to the beady and enquiring eyes of the local inhabitants. Her final port of call and last shot of liqueur before she was ripped bloodied and screaming from this mortal coil was in the snug confines of the town’s Somerset Arms.
The Mystery Man
At 7.30pm that evening Mary and her companion entered the pub where she ordered a whiskey for herself and a beer for the mysterious man. Less than an hour later Mary’s throat was cut from ear to ear with such animalistic savagery that her head was almost decapitated.
Covered in blood and in what must have been unbearable agony, she dragged herself 200 yards from the spot where her attacker had left her for dead, in a desperate bid for help before the life seeped out of her completely.
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