Ellen Donworth, a 19-year-old sex worker, departed her Westminster Bridge Road home sometime between 6-7 p.m. on October 13, 1891, to meet a man at London’s York Hotel. At some point in the evening, Donworth accepted a drink from a man she did not know. Shortly after, Donworth was found outside a bar, violently ill. She was taken back to her home, where she perished on October 16.
An autopsy confirmed the drink she’d been given was laced with strychnine. On her deathbed, Donworth identified the man who gave her the drink, stating he was “a tall gentleman with cross eyes, a silk hat, and bushy whiskers gave me a drink twice out of a bottle with white stuff in it.”
Shortly after Donworth’s death, a letter arrived at the coroner’s office offering help in finding her killer for £300,000. The handwriting in the letter was connected to Dr. Thomas Cream, who was going by the name Dr. Thomas Neill. Cream also sent a letter to a local bookshop owner accusing him of the murder and asking for money for his silence. Cream, who became known as the “Lambeth Poisoner,” was convicted of poisoning a man in the United States in 1881. He was eventually arrested for the murder of four women. He was convicted and executed by hanging in 1892.