THE CASE OF DOROTHEA WADDINGHAM
By Tim Lambert
Dorothea Waddingham was a poisoner of the 1930s. Her poison of choice was morphine. Waddingham was born near Nottingham in 1900. In 1925 she married a man named Thomas Leech but he died of cancer in 1930. Waddingham was dishonest and was convicted of fraud twice and theft twice. However after Leech's death she opened a nursing home with a man named Ronald Sullivan. In January 1935 they took two residents, an 89 year old woman named Louisa Baguley and her disabled daughter, Ada aged 50. In May 1935 Louisa changed her will. She left £1,600 (a considerable fortune in those days) to Dorothea Waddingham and Ronald Sullivan on condition they cared for her and her daughter for the rest of their lives. Louisa died a few days later but because she was very old her death did not cause suspicion. However in September Ada suddenly fell ill and died. But the doctor who cared for her was suspicious. He alerted the coroner, who ordered a post mortem. A large amount of morphine was found in the unfortunate woman's body. The body of her mother Lousia was exhumed and it too was found to contain morphine.
Dorothea Waddingham and Ronald Sullivan went on trial on 4 February 1936. However Sullivan was soon discharged because of a lack of evidence against him. Dorothea Waddingham was found guilty of murder and sentenced to death on 27 February 1936. She was hanged on 16 April 1936.
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