The Burke & Hare Halloween Murder

31st October 1828
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On October 31 in 1828, Irishmen Burke and Hare took the life of their final victim, Margaret Docherty, at a guest house in Edinburgh. This bloody murder on All Hallow's Eve would prove to be the notorious pair's undoing...

William Burke from Urney & William Hare from Newry had killed 16 times in order to sell bodies to anatomist Dr Robert Knox for medical dissection.

The demand for cadavers exceeded supply and the pair made it their business to create a supply in the most gruesome of circumstances. Knox was unaware of how they had procured them. 

On Hallow'een 1828, Margaret Docherty, a middle-aged Irishwoman, was lured into the Broggan Guesthouse in Edinburgh by Burke who pretended that she was a relative. Burke plied her with alcohol before fetching Hare to assist him in taking her life. 

The following day, other guests returned to discover her body hidden in the straw at the end of a bed. While away reporting their discovery to the authorities, Burke & Hare quickly removed the body to Knox's surgery. However, her blood-stained clothing was still under the bed. When the police and witnesses identified the body at Knox's surgery, a warrant was issued for Burke, Hare and their wives.

William Hare escaped prosecution by turning king's counsel against his former accomplice, and William Burke hanged the following year.

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