WILLIAM JACKSON, the most wanted man in the district, whom it was believed it had taken his own life after murdering his sister near Bedale, was apprehended in West Auckland 150 years ago this week after a nationwide manhunt.

“The revolting details of the murder are already too well known to need recapitulating,” said The Northern Echo.

William had been furloughed from the army and had returned home to Carthorpe, to the south of Bedale, only to drink heavily and argue with his father. On May 4, the arguments turned to blows, and on May 5, he left the family farm, swearing never to return.

His sister, Lizzie, 16, ran after him.

They were last seen at neighbouring Kirklington, where she was in tears, chasing after him.

Next morning, her body was found in the millrace, her throat deeply cut and large quantities of blood everywhere.

Police found a cut-throat razor in the mill race, stamped with the insignia of the 77th Foot Regiment – William’s regiment in India.

“As soon as the body of the unfortunate girl was found, and the police throughout the country were put on alert, trace of him was lost, and it was supposed that he had committed suicide, until he was heard of making towards Bishop Auckland,” said the Echo.

A drayman who had given a traveller a lift into West Auckland had discovered a bundle of clothes left behind. They had the regimental insignia on them and a service number – William’s number.

“A vigorous search was prosecuted in the pits, ironworks and other places where he was likely to have sought employment, and throughout the public houses,” said the Echo.

Police apprehended him in a colliery yard at West Auckland, where he had been sleeping beside the warm coke ovens, and he was taken to Northallerton on the 5.50pm train.

“Prisoner, who is by no means like a murderer, had a haggard, careworn appearance,” said the Darlington & Stockton Times.

It’s report also said: “On Saturday, the remains of the unfortunate girl who was so cruelly murdered were interred at Burneston church, and there was, as may be expected, a large concourse of people present.”

Three-and-a-half months later, on August 18, William was executed at York for murder.