Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Sweeney Todd

A Race Against Time

But still more evidence was needed. There was thought to be no way to identify the remains found in the Weston crypt, and no way to tie the murders to Sweeney Todd and Margery Lovett, save for the gossips on Fleet Street. The Runners would have to move quickly, yet carefully, lest a blatant investigation scare the murderous duo away. There was no requirement for a search warrant at the time, and Sir Richard ordered his men to accompany every customer into Sweeney Todd's barbershop to keep him from practicing his macabre craft until a Runner had a chance to search his apartment for more evidence. Undoubtedly, for the next several days, the Bow Street Runners were the most neatly shaved police force in the world as they kept tabs on the Demon Barber. The chance to search the house came two days after the discoveries beneath the church, and the Runner dispatched to the house was able to locate a veritable treasure trove of booty from Sweeney Todd's apartment. He noted the names and initials found in some of the clothing and jewelry and reported in to Sir Richard.

Wasting no more time, Blunt dispatched a group of Runners to arrest Margery Lovett, and set out with another squad to pick up Sweeney Todd. The arrest of Mrs. Lovett was not without incident. When the Runners arrived at her shop, she was serving some of her ever-present customers and as they learned the horrid contents of their delicious meals, they attempted to lynch Margery Lovett.

"The people who were in the shop spread the news all over the neighbourhood and the place was soon jammed up with a maddened mob. They poured from Fleet Street and Carey Street determined to tear her to bits and hang her on the lamp post in the middle of Bell Yard," reports an anonymous author in an 1878 version of Sweeney Todd's life.

The Runners were able to hurry Mrs. Lovett away in a waiting carriage, and she was taken to a cell in Newgate Prison.

Blunt's arrest of Sweeney Todd, on the other hand, went without incident. The barber was alone in his shop when the Bow Street Runners entered and clapped the handcuffs, or darbies, on the Demon Barber. He was already behind bars in Newgate Prison before any civilians knew he was involved in the horror of Bell Yard.

 

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