Poor old Maria, she was buried three times in the end; once by Corder, and twice by the church. After she had been buried for the second time, the prosecution decided that they hadn’t paid enough attention to the various wounds on her body, so she was exhumed for further examination. Her head, or at any rate, her skull, was passed around as evidence during the trial. The question was whether the various penetrative wounds seen on the body were caused pre or post mortem. They could have happened either during the initial exhumation, or by the succession of surgeons who examined the body.
It was claimed that a sword in Corder’s possession had been used to stab her, but if that were so, what was the point of Corder denying it in the confession, made hours before he was certain to be hanged? It has been suggested that someone else was involved that he may have been unaware of; someone who ‘finished Maria off’ after Corder had left to get a spade. But Maria’s father, who found the body, had thrust his mole-spike into the floor of the Red Barn looking for anything that had been buried. He ‘poked into the straw a good while’. When his mole-spike was about four inches deep, he ‘found something come out with it like flesh…[it smelled] very disagreeable…’ Clearly the mole-spike caused at least one of the ‘stab’ injuries.
Then there were the dreams that led to Maria’s body being discovered. One of the conspiracy theories that has been advanced, is that Maria’s step-mother was also having an affair with Corder, and when she heard that he had been married in London, she revealed the location of Maria’s body. But that would have meant that she was involved in the murder. Mary Martin had known Maria at least since she (Maria) was 11 years old when she married Thomas Martin; possibly for longer. She was still living with her mole-catcher husband 25 years later in 1851. If she had really been involved in a crime of passion involving the murder of her rival, would she still have been living with the rival’s father all that time later?
Welcome to the Mirli Books blog written by Peter Maggs