Fearful Tragedy -Young Girl Decapitated – Father Runs Amok – Child’s Head Picked Up.

August 1928

Mexborough and Swinton Times August 3, 1928

Fearful Tragedy At Mexboro
Young Girl Decapitated.
Demented Father Runs Amok.
” Oh Mother ! It’s Murder.”
Grandmother’s Terrific Experience.
Child’s Head Picked Up.

In circumstances of the utmost, horror and pathos a ghastly murder was committed early this morning at Pitt Street, Mexborough, a house occupied by Harold Marsden, aged 37, his wife, Ada,their five children: Mary, aged 10; Nora, aged 8; Edna, aged 6;, Norman, aged 4; and David, aged 16 months.

Shortly before four o’clock Mr. Reginald Atkinson, who lives next door at No. 1, was aroused by a sudden uproar. He heard screams and banging, and realised that Mrs. Marsden was calling for help. He heard her cry as she knocked, “Come and get us out, Reg, he’s gone mad! ”

He ran downstairs and across to the house of the Marsdens at the opposite side of the party entry, and as he reached the back door he heard Mrs. Marsden turning the key and saw her in the doorway, holding the child Edna. She was dazed  and in a state of collapse. As he passed into the house he heard Marsden upstairs roaring. He went to the stairs and there met the three ,children—Nora, Norman and David—coming down. Meanwhile Mrs. Marsden had rushed across to her mother-in-law, Mrs. Luke Marsden, who lives on the other side of the street at No. 2, and she came at once. Running straight upstairs she found her son sitting on the bed in the back bedroom, the room occupied by Mary and l]dna.

He was swaying and groaning, and she heard him say feebly as she entered ” Oh, mother, it’s murder! ” He put his hands about her arms, and held her so tightly that at first she thought le was about to attack her.

She tried to soothe him but he continued to groan, and she then noticed that he was bleeding `profusely from the neck. She said, ‘ Come and lie down here for a moment,” and with that she took a pillow from the bed ad laid it down on the floor.

Then, to her unutterable horror, she picked up, without for the moment realising, the head of her little granddaughter, Mary. In the half-light of dawn and in the confusion and bewilderment of the whole scene, she had not noticed the child. Now she recognised the child’s face and, turning to the bed, saw the trunk of the poor little thing lying upon it.

The other little girl, Edna, had been snatched up from the bed by her mother and taken downstairs. When Mrs. Marsden realised to the full the A horror of what had occurred she almost collapsed, but but with a violent effort she kept control of herself and. continued  to attend to her son, who was fast I growing weaker and began to ramble incoherently about the war.

She told a ” Times ” reporter afterwards that all he could say was: “Oh, mother! ” and. talked. about the war and bayonets.

Meanwhile, the police arrived and took charge, and Dr. J. J. Huey attended to the wounded man, whose injuries are serious but probably not fatal, and. saw him dispatched to the Fullerton Hospital at Denaby Main.

The four surviving children were taken to the house of the Atkinsons, where they are being cared. for with their mother.

The mother was this morning too dazed and distraught by her terrible ordeal to give any clear account of the tragedy. Nor, indeed, was she questioned.

When a “Times ” reporter called later in the morning he found the house in confusion and the bedroom in which the ghastly affair took place was a horrible sight. The body of the poor victim had been taken into one of the lower rooms, which was locked. Three of the surviving children were in the garden gravely regarding the passers-by and only dimly conscious that something strange and terrible had taken place.

There seems to be little doubt that Marsden has been gravely affected by his war experience. He was a reservist in the R.A.M.C. before the war and served throughout. He still on the reserve. His war service, which was severe, seriously affected his nervous system and his general health and for long time past year showed increasing signs of nervous trouble. He is a miner, ordinary employed at Denaby Main, but for the last seven weeks had been too ill to work has been on compensation for an injury. Only last Monday he had a slight seizure while in Doctor Huly’s surgery. Owing to the state of his health he had become very moody and depressed, so much so that his condition was marked and discussed by the neighbours.

“Only last night,” said Mrs Atkinson, “I remarked to his wife how ‘funny’ he was, she said, “yes, but am not afraid that he will do anything to us.”

Marsden bears a very good character as a workman and in domestic and private life. In spite of his ill-health and Murray has been a kind and considerate husband and father, and his married life has been a happy one.

His wife, whom he married during the war, is a Conisbrough girl, former Ada Farmerly.

The poor little victim of a terrible scene in their home this morning was born towards the end of the war. Marsden came his pen from Sheffield to Mexborough for 24 years ago, and since the war has lived in the house he now occupies, opposite that of his parents.

This dreadful tragedy is one third of the kind that has occurred in that district during the last five or six years.

After the police and doctor had been summoned, and before their arrival Mr Atkinson another neighbour, Mr Ernest Robins, took care of Marsden, who by that I was in a very weak condition but was able to talk incoherently. “All his talk,” said Mr Atkinson,” was of the war, and he spoke constantly of Delville Wood