Oscar Slater – Pre-Trial (Podcast)

Hi and welcome to part one for the case of Oscar Slater. This is actually going to be the shortest of the four. There are just the three parts with one episode each for Pre-trial, Trial, and Verdict & Aftermath. This one seemed to play out in a fairly straightforward way, though it did take just about as long to research and type up as the other three cases but that was more trying to research his origins. Those who’ve caught the other episodes in this series will know I like to go back as far as possible in the press with our protagonists’ initial mentions. The Oxford Dictionary for National Biographies had a listing for Oscar Slater that suggested that he had been tried at least twice in England, in the north London session for 1896 and at a Clerkenwell court, I think, about 1897. So, I went looking for them because these things were reported on all the time and he had a variety of names he used. I’ve gone looking with every spelling that I could conceive of for each name, every combination of names. I was set on finding the reports using the hint that I’d obtained from the Oxford Dictionary of National Biographies. 

He was known by Oscar with a “c” or with a “k” as well as Otto. He was using the surnames George, Anderson, Sando, Sands, Schmidt, Smith, and Slater. I went looking. It took a really long time because I wasn’t finding anything. Not under any combination using the Oxford Dictionary as my basis, but that isn’t to say I found nothing. The reports may be slightly out with their dates and it could also be somebody else they’re speaking of. It would be fairly coincidental, I would think, if the reports I did find were for somebody else but I’m going to read them anyway because I think the coincidences are a little too large to omit them. So, let’s get into shall we?

London Evening Standard, Wednesday 3rd April, 1895, p.2.


   Otto Schmidt, 30, described as a vocalist, was charged with being a suspected person, dressed in female attire, supposed for an unlawful purpose. Schmidt wore a black shirt and bodice of the same colour, with velvet sleeves, black fur cape, and small black bonnet and figured veil. His wig was of a rich golden colour, and hung in curls down his back. He carried in his left hand a pair of dull red cotton gloves. – Police-constable Day, 262 E, said at half-past three yesterday morning he was attracted to Euston-road by loud screams of “Police!” Opposite the Great Northern Railway terminus he saw Schmidt struggling with another man. The Prisoner’s wig was much disarrayed, and by the gruffness of his voice the officer at once became aware of Schmidt’s sex. He took him into custody, but the man with whom the Prisoner had been quarrelling walked off. – The Prisoner, by the aid of an interpreter, told the Court that he was a character vocalist; he had been to the Harmony Club in Fitzroy-square during the evening, and was returning home when a man attacked him. – In answer to the Magistrate, the police-officer said it was the Prisoner who called for the assistance. – Schmidt gave an address in Pentonville, and Mr. Bros remanded him in order that his character might be inquired into.

Southern Echo, Tuesday 9th April, 1895, p.3.


   Otto Schmidt was sentenced to three months’ hard labour at Clerkenwell to-day, for wearing female garb in the streets for an illegal purpose.

[Our Oscar Slater, assuming the birth date to be correct, would be 23 at this time, not 30.]

Dublin Evening Telegraph, Tuesday 29th November, 1898, p.3.

   The coroner’s jury at Greenwich to-day returned a verdict of manslaughter against a German sailor named Otto Schmidt. The evidence showed that there was a disturbance at a sailors’ house in the East End of London, during which another German sailor named Wilhelm Hamann was stabbed. After the affray Hamann stopped out all night, and the medical testimony was to the effect that death was due to blood poisoning, following the wound, accelerated by alcoholism.

Ballymena Observer, Friday 2nd December, 1898, p.2.


   The Poplar police have received information of the death of Wilhelm Hammen, a German seaman, lately staying at the German Sailors’ Home, East India Dock-road. On Tuesday Hammen charged another German seaman, named Otto Schmidt, with stabbing him in the arm, and after evidence had been taken the accused man was committed to the North London Sessions for that. During the hearing a doctor stated that the wound was not of a serious character, and the prosecutor did not then appear much the worse for the injury. He kept about until Thursday, when he went to the Seamen’s Hospital, Greenwich, and on Friday morning a communication was received by the Poplar police that during the night the unfortunate man had died.

London Evening Standard, Monday 5th December, 1898, p.8.




   Otto Schmidt, 25, a German seaman, was charged with killing and slaying Wilhelm Hamann by stabbing him with a knife on the 21st ult. – …

The People, Sunday 18th December. 1898, p.7.


   Otto Schmidt, a German sailor, who stabbed a compatriot named Wilhelm Harmann in a drunken row in the East India Dock-rd., and pleaded guilty, was at the Old Bailey discharged on the understanding that he was at once to be taken out of England. “Your fellow-countrymen,” said Justice Hawkins, “must not think that in this country we cannot administer justice with mercy.”

[Now, although the name was one used by Oscar Slater, and he was tried in the North London Session, the previous 2 reports are two years after when our man was tried, though he seems to be a better fit for age than the preceding articles. Also, it was Clerkenwell first then North London rather than vice versa as stated in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography and the year before and after that given by the same source.]

Scotsman, Tuesday 22nd December, 1908, p.5.





   WITHIN a hundred yards of one of the busiest city thoroughfares, a murder of a most brutal and violent nature was committed last evening in Glasgow. The victim is Miss Marion Gilchrist (82), a lady of independent means, who resided at 15 Queen’s Terrace, West Princes Street, in the immediate neighbourhood of St George’s Road, in the western district of the city. Her only companion was a servant girl, in whose temporary absence the crime was perpetrated. The murderer, who was seen as he left the house, had evidently entered it with the intention of committing a burglary. He succeeded in making his escape, but in view of the circumstances of the case it seems almost inconceivable that he can remain long at large. The house, which is situated in a residential locality, is in a three-storey tenement occupied in flats. Miss Gilchrist resided on the second floor, and her apartments consisted of six rooms and kitchen. About seven o’clock last night the servant girl, Nelly Lambie (21), was sent out by her mistress for an evening paper, for which she proceeded to a shop in St George’s Road. She was absent not more than ten minutes, and on her return she found standing at the door a gentleman, Mr Arthur M. Adams, who is the only other resident in the tenement, the top flat being at present unoccupied.


   Mr Adams explained that while in his house he had been alarmed by unusual sounds overhead; and had gone upstairs to ascertain if anything was wrong. The servant girl opened the door with the keys which she had taken with her, and just at that moment a young man of respectable appearance, who had come from a back bed-room, walked leisurely out of the house. When he gained the stair, however, he quickened his pace, and rapidly disappeared. Meantime the servant girl entered the house, and, proceeding to the dining-room, was horrified to find her mistress lying on the floor immediately in front of the fire with face and head a mass of bruises and blood. The girl’s wild cry apprised Mr Adams that something untoward had occurred, and, suspecting the stranger who had departed so hurriedly, he rushed down stairs after him. In the comparative darkness he was, unfortunately, unable to determine which direction had been taken by the fugitive, and he failed to find any trace of him. The police were at once informed of the affair, and on their entering the house they found the body of Miss Gilchrist in the dining-room. She had evidently been attacked in the most sudden and violent fashion, and there is no evidence of a struggle having taken place. Her skull had been smashed, and there were marks of the other blows on the head and face. The left eye had been dislodged, and the floor and fire-irons were bespattered with blood and brain-fibre. The lady had evidently fallen heavily on a wooden coal-scuttle, which stood outside the fender. the hinge of the lid had been broken by the force of the impact. It was obvious that death must have ensued almost instantly after the attack. The blows had apparently been inflicted by some weighty blunt instrument, but no weapon has been discovered. Dr John Adams, 1 Queen’s Terrace, was summoned and examined the body, but could only give the assurance that death had taken place some time previously.


   It is clear that robbery was the object of the murderer, who seems to have been to some extent acquainted with the habits of the household. There is a statement that a noise was heard at the back of the premises, but the general assumption is that the intruder was on the watch, and, having seen the servant girl depart, made up his mind to enter the house by ordinary means. The probability is that he rang the bell from the street door, which would be opened by Miss Gilchrist by a mechanical contrivance inside her apartments. Her belief would be that the servant girl had returned, and she would leave the door of the house ajar. The burglar would thus have no difficulty in gaining admission. Miss Gilchrist would discover her mistake too late to prevent his entry, and, as has already been indicated, the murderer made his attack with great suddenness and violence. This would account for the fact that no screams were heard. The circumstance that first aroused alarm was the loud knocking from the vicinity of the dining-room, which, lasting for some time, attracted the attention of the neighbours underneath. The continuance of this sound would serve to show that the assailant was determined to silence utterly the only person who could interfere with his nefarious intentions.


   Notwithstanding the fact that little time was allowed him, the burglar seems to have prosecuted his design with coolness and method. The gas in a back bedroom, which had not been lit when the servant girl left, was afterwards found burning, and it appears certain that the murderer began his search there. The only piece of jewellery missing, however, is a valuable diamond brooch of a circular design about the size of a half-crown. It is not even certain that this is in possession of the thief. On the dressing-table, and lying around promiscuously, was a number of articles, such as a gold bangle, a gold watch and chain, and gold rings, which remained untouched. A peculiar circumstance is that a work-box was found open, and the contents – namely, papers of different descriptions, were littered on the floor. This suggests the possibility that the visitor had some definite purpose in his search. The only trace which he left behind him was a box of matches. The matches are of a large, old-fashioned kind, never used in Miss Gilchrist’s household. One spent match was found within the bed-room.


   Only a glance of the murderer was obtained as he made his hurried departure, but a fairly detailed description of him has been given by Mr Adams and the servant girl. He is a man of between twenty-five and thirty years of age, about 5 feet 9 inches in height, with dark hair and a clean-shaven face. He wore a light fawn overcoat and a cloth cap. His appearance was not that of the ordinary burglar: for Mr Adams states that had he looked like a suspicious character he would not have been allowed to depart without being questioned. Mr Adams had been twice at the door, and on both occasions had rung the bell with considerable force. At the first visit the peculiar knocking sound which originally attracted attention still continued, and he formed the impression that the servant girl was breaking firewood in the kitchen. It is stated that owing to Miss Gilchrist’s nervous fear of burglars she had arranged to knock on the floor for the assistance of the neighbours beneath should she have any cause. Whether this knocking was due altogether to the sounds made in the course of the assault, or whether she had had time to attempt to summon help must remain doubtful.


   Miss Gilchrist belonged to an old Glasgow family, and had resided in the same house for thirty years. She is described as a tall, erect lady, healthy for her years. She was well known in social circles in the city. Her residence shows every evidence of her good taste and comfortable means. The room where she was found murdered contains handsome, old-fashioned furniture and a selection of well-chosen paintings. In one of the rooms is a small safe, which escaped the attention of the burglar. Miss Gilchrist was the owner of much valuable jewellery, a portion of which is understood to be stored with a well-known firm in the city. She had three sisters alive, one of whom resides in the neighbourhood, and there are other relatives in Glasgow. An incident which has a suspicious bearing on the crime of last night is that a little time ago a dog which she owned was found poisoned. The girl Lambie, who first discovered the body of her murdered mistress, had been in the service of Miss Gilchrist for over three years. Information of the tragic occurrence was sent to a number of the relatives, who visited the house, where the body was allowed to remain overnight with the police in charge. Investigations regarding the murder were carried out under the direction of Superintendent Douglas, of the Western Division, and Detective-Superintendent Ord, of the Central. Mr James Hart, Procurator-Fiscal, was called to the scene. In the course of the evening news of the outrage spread quickly in the neighbourhood, and throughout the night large crowds gathered in the street and regarded the house and the occasional visitors with the greatest curiosity.


   Mr Arthur M Adams, flutist, who lives underneath Miss Gilchrist’s house, in the course of an interview, said:- “My people had been alarmed by thuds overhead, and I went upstairs at their instigation to find if anything was wrong. I pulled the bell two or three times with considerable force. I could hear a knocking inside the house, but I thought it was the servant girl breaking firewood in the kitchen. I returned down-stairs to my own house, and expressed my opinion as to the cause of the noise, but as the disturbance continued, I was again prevailed upon to make further inquiry. Accordingly I proceeded up-stairs a second time, and gave the bell a vigorous pull. Just at that moment the servant girl appeared on the scene, having returned from her errand. I asked her if there was anything wrong, and she said she did not think so. When the girl opened the door, a man came walking slowly from one of the back bed-rooms, and when he had passed us, rushed down-stairs. The girl entered the house and went into the dining-room. I heard her scream and then begin to weep bitterly, and, taking this as an indication that something really was wrong, I ran downstairs with the object of overtaking the man who had left the house. Unfortunately I ran west instead of east. I believe that if I had gone in the direction of St George’s Road I would have caught him. He was pretty well dressed, and that put me off my guard. I thought he might be a visitor just leaving the house. Miss Gilchrist has of late years shown a nervous disposition and a fear of being alone. She has asked me on several occasions to come up and see if there was not a man in the house. My impression is that the intruder was a burglar who had watched the servant girl go out. He must have known that Miss Gilchrist was alone. My first ring must have disturbed him, and he was probably preparing to make his escape when the girl opened the door.”


   About half-past eleven o’clock two men were arrested in a house in Cowcaddens by Detective McKay and Constables Gordon and Macleod on suspicion of being concerned in the affair. One of the men is stated to answer the description given by Mr Adams and the servant girl of the person who was seen leaving the house. The prisoners will be brought up at the Northern Police Court this morning.

   The medical certificate states that Miss Gilchrist’s death was due to compound fracture of the skull. The head and face were battered almost beyond recognition.

Daily Record and Mail, Tuesday 22nd December, 1908, p.5.











   There circulated in all their horror through the West-End of Glasgow last night particulars of one of the most revolting tragedies of which this city has ever been the scene. The victim – an old lady of independent means named Miss Marion Gilchrist, whom years rendered utterly defenceless – was murdered by an unknown man about seven o’clock in her house at 49 West Princes Street, and up to mid-night curious crowds succeeded each other at the close mouth anxious for details of the crime – the motive of which every investigation proves was some kind of robbery.

   The tragedy was swiftly enacted while the old lady had been left alone for only ten minutes in the house by her servant maid, and every feature of it is poignant in the extreme.

   When, towards seven o’clock, the Adams family, who live in the main-door house downstairs, and adjoining No. 49 West Princes Street, heard a curious sound of knocking coming down from over the roof of their dining-room, suspicious thought concerning the old maid who lived above were naturally aroused. They knew her fears, for, on several occasions, when more than usually startled by her loneliness, Miss Gilchrist had come down to them for refuge.

   The Misses Adams suggested to their brother, Mr. Arthur M. Adams, a flautist by profession, that he should go upstairs and see what was amiss. Mr. Adams did so and listened at the door, but thinking that the sound was caused by the servant girl breaking sticks for her morning fires, he descended again. The knocking, however, continued in a sinister fashion, and Mr. Adams was prevailed upon to again ascend.

   As he was mounting the stairs the servant of the lady, a girl of 21 years, named Nellie Lambie, joined him. At once his theory of the sounds was disproved and his fears communicated themselves to the girl, who was just returning from her nightly mission of buying Miss Gilchrist’s evening paper.

   Ten minutes had scarcely elapsed since she had quitted her mistress.


   They hastened to open the door. A young stranger came with nonchalance from the lighted interior of one of the back rooms, passed the couple with the greatest coolness, and walked swiftly downstairs. His unconcernedness was astounding. He impressed Adams and the girl with the air of an ordinary visitor. A few minutes more and the servant maid became hysterical at the awful result of this visit. The spectacle was full of frightsome contrast, of the dead and the living; and it repeated itself for those whose courage or official duty prompted them to regard it.

   The blaze of gaslight in the old-fashioned dining-room was vivid. Nearly everything was undisturbed and spoke of the taste of a lady of refined and careful habits. The body as it had fallen under the blows of the murderer lay rigid, before a living fire, whose light kept the death pallor out of the lined and worn old face. The black dress was scarcely ruffled. The head alone indicated the brutality of the assault. The skull was battered in, the cheeks hacked and an eye dislodged. Spots of blood darkened the steel of the grate, and pieces of brain tissue were scattered about.

… A portrait that seemed to be that of the old woman, when a young and handsome girl of under twenty, looked down on the lifeless body in frightful contrast from above the mantelpiece. Copies of old Italian pictures hung round the walls depicting joyous scenes. The antique chairs and ornaments indicated an owner of considerable wealth, and everything seemed an heirloom and as if handed down for generations.

   The body lay amid all the richness and light with stiffened frail hands, that could have offered no resistance to the murderous force employed; and as it lay there before the dying fire under the gaze of a succession of constables, detectives and fiscals, the assailant was in flight through the city.

… ‘Phone messages had been sent to the St. Andrew’s Ambulance Association, and in a remarkably short space of time the wagon of the Association came flying up. The attendants, however, saw for themselves that there was no need for their services. Other vehicles containing medical men and pressmen began to arrive, and the usually quiet thoroughfare began to assume an excited appearance….


   The house in which the crime took place is a spacious one of six rooms and kitchen, and is known by two addresses – 15 Queen’s Terrace or 49 West Princes Street. The ordinary aspect of the spot is one of tranquility; but only a few paces off one comes to the glare and noise of Great Western Road and the tumult of the traffic of St. George’s Cross. The property consists of the ground floor and two flats. The top flat is unoccupied; while the house of Miss Gilchrist is reached by a one-storey stair leading from the street door. To apprise the occupant one must ring the bell, when a lever from the house is pulled to open the door. The tragic visitor of last night must have rung the bell from the outside to begin with, and being answered by Miss Gilchrist’s pulling of the lever he was thus able to enter the close and go upstairs, where again the old lady must have come to his assistance, as otherwise he could not have entered the house, the door of which locks with a Chubb and a patent catch, two keys being required to open it.

   The murderer had seemingly not had time to investigate the house fully, probably being interrupted by the bell-pulls of Adams. The gas in the back room was lit when the servant returned, and the girl remembers having left it in darkness. It must therefore have been lit by the intruder. He has left behind a box of matches of the Runaway brand manufactured by Messrs. Bryant & May, and a spent match was found on the floor.

   A workbox was found from which the lid had been wrenched. A number of papers had been taken from it and thrown upon the floor. From this it almost seems as if the man had been looking for some particular document. This introduces an element of mystery into the crime, presuming the object was merely that of robbery. Why, one might ask, were the jewels in the immediate vicinity left untouched?

   No instrument or weapon has been found in the house, but the injuries are such as might have been inflicted by something resembling a blunt-edged hatchet.




   Shortly after the tragedy the servant girl had recovered sufficiently from her hysteria to corroborate the story of Mr. Adams. After she had satisfactorily answered the questions of the police she was taken away by friends. She had been three years with Miss Gilchrist, to whom she was very much attached.

   “When I discovered what had taken place,” she said, “I shouted out to Mr. Adams, ‘My mistress is murdered – catch that man.’ Mr. Adams ran downstairs almost at the heels of the man.”




   The following police report of the murder has been entered in the books of the Western Police Office by Lieutenant Bethune:-

     “22 p.m. – At this time Detective Pyper reports that between 7 and 7.15 p.m. to-day Marion Gilchrist, 82 years of age, of 15 Queen’s Terrace, West Princes Street, was murdered in her house there by a man of the following description, who was seen leaving the house by Helen Lambie, servant there, and Arthur Montague Adams, of 14 Queen’s Terrace:- ‘A man between 25 and 30 years of age, 5 feet 8 or 9 inches in height, slim build, dark hair, clean shaven; dressed in light grey overcoat and dark cloth cap – cannot be further described.”…

   “The servant then opened the door with two check keys, went inside the house, leaving Mr. Adams at the door, and as she was going through the lobby saw the man described coming out of one of the back bedrooms, bolt out on to the stair, and make his escape. The girl went into the kitchen, but found no person there. She then entered the dining-room, where she found her mistress lying on the hearth rug in front of the fireplace with a skin rug over her. The servant then went to the door and informed Mr. Adams, who ran out, but failed to see the man. He met a constable, Wm. Neill, whom he told of what had taken place. Mr. Adams went for Dr. John Adams, of 1 Queen’s Crescent, and the doctor telephoned to this office.

   “When the constable and the girl entered the room where Miss Gilchrist was lying they found her in a dying condition, and she immediately expired. The body was at once examined by Dr. Wright, casualty surgeon, who found nearly every bone in the skull fractured and the brain escaping; head practically smashed to a pulp…”

Dundee Courier, Wednesday 23rd December, 1908, p.5.





   Not for years has Glasgow been so shocked as by the murder of Miss Marion Gilchrist, a wealthy gentlewoman of 82, who was battered to death in her house in Queen’s Terrace, Glasgow.

   The servant girl has failed to identify the two men in custody, but they are being detained on another charge unconnected with the tragedy.

   Medical testimony declares that one-tenth of the violence would have killed the old lady.

   The police have added mystery by expressing the opinion that a burglar of the ordinary type would have contented himself with stunning his victim with his jemmy. Accordingly the police investigations have widened.

   Robbery appears to have been the motive, yet in deceased’s bedroom jewellery and documents were scattered on the floor. It is certain that only one man was associated with the crime, and the maidservant and Mr Adam, a neighbour, who saw the man coolly walk from the house, declare they could identify him.

   A lady who resides near by gives the only clue. For four nights she observed a young, strapping youth, dressed identically as the man seen leaving Miss Gilchrist’s house by the maid, hovering about in front of the house. She remarked to her husband that he appeared to be watching Miss Gilchrist’s house, but the husband scouted the idea. However, as the lady knew of Miss Gilchrist’s timidity as to burglars, and as she had frequently been asked by the deceased to take the custody of her valuable jewellery, the lady felt uneasy in her mind, and had determined that not another night would lapse without having the youth removed from his apparently self-imposed watch.

   The only other clue is that after the murder a young man asked a taxicab driver to take him to a town in Perthshire, but the offer was refused. Miss Gilchrist’s many friends were well aware that she possessed valuable diamond jewellery, and had frequently approved of her fine taste.

   Over the fireplace in Miss Gilchrist’s dining-room, where she was so cruelly done to death, was a painting of the deceased lady, then in her teens. There is no question that the instrument was of the skull-cracker type carried by experts, but no trace of it has been found.

   Strangely enough, the police warned residents in that crescent overnight that a robbery had been planned.

Aberdeen Press and Journal, Saturday 26th December, 1908, p.5.





… A person who had a good view of him in West Princes Street at the time has come forward and given a description which should easily lead to his identification if he can be found.

   According to the statement of this witness, who had a distinct, though of course, brief, front view of this man, as he came down the outside steps at 16 Queen’s Terrace a few minutes after 7 o’clock and ran westward along West Princes Street. From it he turned down West Cumberland Street, which leads past the end of Grant Street and Carnarvon Street to Woodlands Road. The witness lost sight of him after he turned the corner out of West Princes Street, but as, although these are all residential streets, and as dimly lit as such localities are wont to be, there are always many pedestrians passing along them at that time of the evening, it is possible that somebody may be able to give further information to the police as to the fugitive’s further movements on that night or his present whereabouts.

   The man wanted is about 28 or 30 years of age, tall and thin, with his face shaved clean of all hair, while a distinctive feature is that his nose is slightly turned to one side. The witness thinks that the twist is to the right side. He wore one of the popular round tweed hats known as Donegal hats, and a fawn-coloured overcoat, which might have been a waterproof, also dark trousers, and brown boots. Whether this is the same man who was described by Mr Adams and Miss Gilchrist’s servant maid on the night of the tragedy is not quite clear. They spoke of the man they saw in the house as wearing a cap, but the Donegal hat is capable of so many transformations of shape that it may have had to them that appearance, more especially as the latter witness says it was pulled well down over the forehead of the wearer.

   Some doubt has been expressed as to the absence from the house of the servant girl Nelly Lambie, being as brief as she stated it was. The police have, however, corroboration of the girl’s statement, because, while walking along West Princes Street, she was passed by a plain clothes policeman who knew her. Her statement also agrees with the time when the newsagent in St George’s Road believes that she entered his shop, while, as to when she returned, there is the corroborative testimony of Mr Adams. It may be stated further with regard to another point that Nelly Lambie is quite positive that when she left the house there was nobody in it but Miss Gilchrist. The house above Miss Gilchrist’s is, as already stated unoccupied, and it is therefore quite possible that the old lady’s assailant was concealed in the upper part of the stair waiting until the servant should, as she was in the habit of doing, leave for her mistress’s evening paper.

   A lady in business in the Hillhead district has stated that on the night of the murder she was in a subway car between seven and eight o’clock. On arrival at St George’s Cross a young man, who from the description now given she states closely resembled the wanted man, hurriedly entered the car. He was evidently labouring under great excitement, and at the next station [Cowcaddens] he as hurriedly left the car, dropping his stick while stepping on to the platform. Little attention was, of course, paid to the man at the time, but from what was subsequently learned the lady believes that some importance attaches to the episode.

Scotsman, Tuesday 29th December, 1908, p.4.





   THE trust disposition and deed of settlement of the late Miss Marion Gilchrist, who resided at 15 Queen’s Terrace, Glasgow, has been lodged in the Register House, Edinburgh. It is dated 28th May 1908. The trustees nominated are Archibald Robertson, of Farquhar & Robertson, grain merchants, Glasgow; John Stewart, stockbroker, 146 Buchanan Street, Glasgow; and James Macdonald, writer, 178 St Vincent Street, Glasgow. By the first purpose of the deed she provides for the payment of her debts and expenses. By the second provision she provides as follows:- To Mrs Robertson, wife of Archibald Robertson, her two diamond bracelets; to Archibald Robertson, her old carved oak chair made of wood from the Cathedral; to John Stewart, her cattle picture by Hunt; to Marion Gilchrist Ferguson, daughter of David Ferguson, 86 Kilgour Terrace, Kilmarnock, the piano in the drawing-room, her walnut suite of bedroom furniture, the oil portrait of the testator [Miss Marion Gilchrist], her sewed picture, and all her bed and table linen; to Mrs Maggie Galbraith Ferguson, wife of the said David Ferguson, her body clothes and wearing apparel, including furs. By the third purpose it is provided that the trustees are to sell her heritable properties, and also her whole household furniture and plenishing, including pictures and silver plate, and also jewellery, except so far as they were or might hereafter be specifically bequeathed, and that by public roup or private bargain as the trustees think best. The fourth purpose is as follows:- I direct my trustees as soon after my death as convenient to set aside out of my estate and invest in their own names the sum of £2000, and to pay the annual income or revenue only of said investment to my sister, Mrs Jane Gilchrist or Birrell, residing in Glasgow, provided she survives me, during her life, which provision shall be partly alimentary, exclusive of her husband’s right of jus mariti and right of administration, and shall not be assignable by my said sister nor subject to the debts or deeds of her husband, or liable to the diligence of her or his creditors, and on the death of my said sister my trustees shall realise the investments in which the sum of £2000 shall then be, and shall divide the net proceeds thereof and pay the same as follows:-, Viz.: They shall pay two-eighth parts thereto to the Royal Infirmary for Sick Children, Glasgow; two-eighth parts to the East Park Home for Infirm Children, Maryhill; one-eighth part thereof to the Glasgow Royal Infirmary; one-eighth part thereof to the Glasgow Western Infirmary: one-eighth part thereof to the Mission to the Outdoor Blind for Glasgow and the West of Scotland; one-eighth part thereof to the Deacons’ Court of St James’ United Free Church, George Street, Glasgow, to be invested by the said Deacons’ Court in name of themselves and their successors, and the income to be applied for behoof of the poor of the congregation; and I direct that should my said sister predecease me, or should she survive me but die before my trustees have set aside and invested the sum of £2000 as before directed, then my trustees shall pay and divide the said sum of £2000 among said institutions and church in the proportions above specified, declaring that my trustees shall be sufficiently discharged by making payment of said proportions and taking the receipts of the treasurer or secretary for the time being of said institutions, and in the case of the said church and the clerk of the Deacons’ Court for the time being, and shall have no concern to see further as to the application of  the sums so paid. I direct my trustees to pay the annuity duty on said annuity or liferent provision and the legacy duty on the said legacies.


   The amount of the estate is estimated at between £60,000 and £80,000.


   The prospect of effecting the apprehension of the man who murdered Miss Gilchrist in her house at 15 Queen’s Terrace, Glasgow, is as remote as ever, in spite of the utmost vigilance of the police. If no arrest be made soon, the advisableness of offering a money reward for information which might lead to the apprehension of the man wanted will probably be considered. Meantime the Chief-Constable has inserted an advertisement in the newspapers requesting hotel proprietors, landladies, lodging-house keepers, and other persons to communicate to him, without delay, any information regarding any suspicious-looking lodger or boarder who may, on the night of the murder or after, have obtained lodgings in their premises. The notice gives descriptions of two men – aged in one case from 25 to 30, and in the other from 28 to 30 – who were seen to leave the stair leading to Miss Gilchrist’s house about the time of the murder.

Northern Chronicle and General Advertiser for the North of Scotland, Wednesday 30th December, 1908, p.6.


   THE Glasgow police, in their search for the person who murdered Miss Marion Gilchrist in her house in West Princes Street last Monday night, have published an advertisement soliciting information regarding the sudden or unexpected disappearance of any lodger or boarder about or after the time of the tragedy. The latest investigations have shed some fresh light on the affair, and last night the detectives who are investigating the case were engaged on a definite quest for a “wanted” man, who, it is believed, is still in the city…

Greenock Telegraph and Clyde Shipping Gazette, Friday 1st January, 1909, p.4.



   There is no fresh development to report to-day in connection with the Glasgow West-end tragedy. The officers of the Criminal Investigation Department, who are now following up the smallest clues or communications which continue to reach the police headquarters, are sparing no efforts to bring about a solution of the crime.

   The man whom they would like to interview, who is at present sailing across the Atlantic on board the Lusitania, may or may not be brought back to Glasgow. He will be interviewed when the liner arrives to-day by the New York police, who have been advised of his presence on the boat, and it will depend upon the statements he makes to them whether the Crown authorities of this country will seek his detention with a view to bringing him back to Glasgow.

   There is another man – an acquaintance of the man who is en route to New York – whom the police are specially anxious to find, but it is believed he also is out of the city. Inquiries for this man are being made in London.

   Several companions of these two men have been, and are still being, interviewed by the detective officers, but with what result time alone will show.

   A warrant was issued yesterday for the apprehension of a man in connection with the murder of Miss Gilchrist in her house in West Princes Street, Glasgow. It is understood that the warrant refers to the person who on Friday night left Glasgow, via Liverpool, for New York.

Aberdeen Press and Journal, Monday 4th January, 1909, p.5.





New York, Sunday.    

   A sensational arrest in connection with the murder of Miss Marion Gilchrist in Glasgow on 21st December last took place on board the Lusitania as she was coming up New York Harbour yesterday. The British authorities had sent several cables to the New York police, one of which read as follows:- “Miss Gilchrist was murdered in Glasgow on 21st December. A three row diamond crescent brooch was stolen. Oscar Slater, whose nose is slightly twisted, sailed in company with a French woman on the Lusitania as Otto Sands. Interrogate and search for pawn ticket. Suspicions; shadow.” The detectives were soon exploring the second cabin of the Cunarder, and discovered Sands, whose nose bore the characteristic described in the cablegram. Beside him was a tall, handsome Frenchwoman, in chic hat and a long fur-trimmed coat. Sands at first thought the detectives interrogating him were immigration officials. He promptly admitted his real name, Otto Slater. He had just come from Glasgow, was a dentist, and had practised in New York under the name of Anderson. He was wanted as a witness in a murder case in America, and on that account changed his surname. He married Andrea Anton in 1901, and had lived three months in Glasgow. All this Slater communicated without hesitation.

   Suddenly a detective asked if he knew a lady called Gilchrist. Quite frankly the couple both denied that they did, though they had read the story of the murder, with the disappearance of the brooch. At this point the officers suggested searching them. Slater took off his coat, the detective immediately finding a pawnbroker’s certificate bearing the signature, “Alexander Liddell, Sauchiehall Street, Glasgow,” witnessed by two clerks, and calling for £60 in respect of a “diamond crescent brooch in case,” which the detectives quickly noticed had been pawned on the 21st December – the day of the murder. – “Morning Leader.”

Aberdeen Press and Journal, Tuesday 5th January, 1909, p.6.



   The investigations connected with the clearing up of the mystery surrounding the tragic death of Miss Marion Gilchrist continue more than ever to interest the general public not only in Glasgow, but all over the country. The course of the investigation would indicate that it is quite possible the case may not be ended without even more than one person besides the man at present in custody being implicated in the affair. So far as this aspect of the case is concerned, however, the utmost reticence is being observed on all hands, and while it is admitted that the subsequent proceedings may turn out to be of an unexpected character, no indication can be given as to what form this denouement will take. The public, however, may be prepared for startling news at any moment.

   It must have appeared rather startling to most people that when the New York authorities examined the effects of Oscar Slater they should find amongst them a pawn ticket for a brooch, on which a loan of £60 had been granted. This article of jewellery was undoubtedly of considerable value, and the supposition that such an article had been abstracted from Miss Gilchrist’s house on the night of the murder made the inference all the more startling. It was also a rather curious coincidence that this brooch should have been pawned on 21st December, the actual evening of the tragedy. But the effect which this development might have had upon the case has been thoroughly dispelled through the investigations made by the authorities. Some days ago the police found that this brooch had been formerly in the possession of Slater, and had actually been pawned and “lifted” by him some time prior to the murder. That it should have been re-pawned on the night of the murder is, of course, a coincidence which would seem to further emphasise the old adage that “truth is often stranger than fiction.” The authorities, therefore, it may be taken, are satisfied that the article of jewellery was not taken from Miss Gilchrist’s house on the night of the murder, and the statement made by Slater to the effect that the article in question had no connection whatever with the West Prince’s Street tragedy may be accepted as being the case.

Aberdeen Press and Journal, Wednesday 6th January, 1909, p.6.







   While awaiting the outcome of the negotiations for the extradition of the man who is at present in custody in the Tombs Prison, New York, in connection with the murder of Miss Marion Gilchrist, the Glasgow police are by no means allowing matters to rest at home. They are in receipt of a volume of information bearing on the case, some of which may be utterly worthless, while, at the same time, it is not improbable that one little item of it may go a long way towards the solution of the mystery. There was no doubt a certain link missing from the chain of evidence, and it may be putting the matter in rather a sanguine light to say that one-half of this link has now been found. The authorities are in the meantime handicapped by the fact that the man arrested is on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean, and under the care of a Government whose methods of criminal procedure are in many respects different from those with which we are acquainted in this country. Formalities will have to be gone through, and there can be little doubt that the States authorities will insist on a very strong case being submitted to them before they agree to the extradition of Slater. Granted that this is allowed, and that the man is safely brought to Glasgow, there crops up the all-important question of identification. This is one of the points which has hampered the criminal authorities all along. It is worth while again recalling the strange circumstances bearing on this part of the tragedy.

   The man who left the house on the night of the murder was seen by at least two persons, and from the account of a third party, to which, perhaps, most importance is attached, the same individual appears to have been seen rushing down the front steps from the deceased lady’s residence. Yet there appears to be a lack of unanimity as to precise details, and, although the police are quite satisfied that the descriptions they have been able to piece together relate to a certain individual, the matter of identification must rest in this uncertain state until (the American authorities being willing) the man at present detained by the New York police arrived on this side.

   A special telegram from New York to the “Glasgow Herald” says:- Oscar Slater, arrested on the Lusitania on Saturday at the request of the Glasgow police in connection with the murder of Miss Marion Gilchrist in that city, though maintaining an attitude of cheerfulness and expressing continued confidence in his complete exoneration, is proceeding to strengthen his legal support.

   He has retained the services of Mr W. A. G. Goodhart, a prominent lawyer, to contest the extradition proceedings, which will commence on January 19.

   So far as his papers are concerned, Mr Goodhart is convinced that his client has a satisfactory case, but he will not discuss the matter further, pending the arrival of the police documents from Glasgow.

Dundee Courier, Thursday 7th January, 1909, p.5.








   A startling document is reported in connection with the investigations into the murder of the Glasgow lady, Miss Gilchrist, at her residence in Queen’s Terrace a fortnight ago.

   The authorities yesterday afternoon received important and unquestionable information which will of a certainty run the murderer to earth.

   One of the suspects has turned King’s evidence [turning informant].

   Miss Marion Gilchrist has left securities valued at £42,000. Her legacies total about £10,000, and the residue will pass to a former maidservant named Ferguson.

   The Glasgow police are perfecting their case with a view to ensure Slater’s extradition.

   Slater visited his barber twice daily, and always appeared to be well in funds. It is now stated that Slater will reach Glasgow by 19th January.

Montrose, Arbroath and Brechin Review; and Forfar and Kincardineshire Advertiser, Friday 8th January, 1909, p.2.




   Oscar Slater, alias Anderson, was arrested in New York on Saturday on the arrival of the Lusitania. The arrest was made in connection with the murder of Miss Marion Gilchrist in a house in West Princes Street, Glasgow, on December 21. Anderson is said to have travelled as Otto Sands. He at first denied having been in Glasgow, but subsequently admitted that he was at 69 St George’s Road as a dentist. He gave up the business, and a friend in New York asked him to come to America. He was proceeding there to find out the reason of the invitation. His wife said they had been married seven years…

Airdrie & Coatbridge Advertiser, Saturday 9th January, 1909, p.3.



   It is reported that important information bearing directly on the murder of Miss Marion Gilchrist in her Glasgow residence has been acquired by the police, and that the crime and its motive are, in the opinion of the police, no longer enveloped in the same deep mystery. The officials themselves are, perhaps naturally, extremely reticent, but it is understood that the latest development is a confession which has been made to them. So far as can be learned, the information, while clearing up certain obscure points, also indicates the probability of a further arrest. Robbery is now put down as the motive, and this is borne out by the intimation that on the night of the tragedy the old lady had in the house at 15 Queen’s Terrace, jewellery – the collection of which seems to have been a hobby – to the value of £8000. Hidden away in an out of the way corner the police are stated to have discovered a tray of unset diamonds, valued at several thousand pounds.


   Slater was taken ashore and arraigned before Commissioner Shields, of the United States District Court, who refused to grant him bail and remanded him to jail until January 19, by which time papers are expected to arrive from the Glasgow police to be used in securing Slater’s extradition to Scotland.

   Slater at first denied all knowledge of the Gilchrist murder, but finally admitted that he had heard of Miss Gilchrist and the crime, but that he had no acquaintance with her and had never seen her. He declared that he had come to this country to testify in a case concerning the death of a prize fighter named Curley, who had been killed in this country. He did not, however, state what his connection with the case was. He said that he left Glasgow four days after the date of Miss Gilchrist’s murder, and that he had read about the case in the newspapers. He was very cool under examination, and made no difficulty about the telling of his past. He produced papers entitling him to citizenship in the United States, which were granted to him two years ago. He declared that he was a native of Germany, and had formerly been a dentist. He admitted that he had lived in New York five years ago under the name of Anderson.

   The personal description of him cabled by the Glasgow police, though brief, corresponds with the man arrested. His wife, who is French, was greatly distressed at his arrest, especially as she herself is detained on Ellis Island, the immigration station in New York Harbour until the case comes up again. She declares she knows nothing whatever of the murder; but has made no statement which helps her husband in any way. Slater is about 30 years of age.


   The instructions acted upon at New York were not received direct from Glasgow, but were despatched through the British Foreign Office. According to international law the police can communicate direct with foreign police authorities for the purpose of giving or obtaining information, but they cannot make direct application for an arrest. The cable sent by the Glasgow police at the beginning of last week was thus merely a request that a certain man should be interrogated regarding his movements while in this country. The matter was also taken up by the Procurator Fiscal for Lanarkshire, who reported the result of his inquiries to the Foreign Office, upon whom the subsequent proceedings depended. The extradition laws provide that where an apprehension is considered to be a matter of urgency the Secretary of State will apply by telegram for a provisional arrest in anticipation of a formal demand for surrender. Thereafter a period is fixed during which a claim for extradition may be made. Extreme reticence is being maintained at the office of Mr Hart, Procurator Fiscal, regarding the effect of the correspondence with the Foreign Office, and it has not been officially learned whether or not an extradition warrant has been granted. The arrest, it should be explained, was not made by the New York police but by deputy marshals acting upon instructions from the United States Government.

Daily Record and Mail, Tuesday 12th January, 1909, p.3.







   The natural desire of the public to be kept in touch with the succession of facts that are gradually being brought to light in the investigations being made into the mysterious murder of Miss Marion Gilchrist in the West-End of Glasgow is quite natural.

   An unwritten right exists in connection with such cases that so threaten the communal sense of safety which entitles the reading masses to be kept apace with the gradual process of solving baffling crime.

   Unfortunately in the present instance the Press have been reduced to the consideration of a multitude of rumours which could not possibly be published without official confirmation. Many of these, if substantiated, would make of the circumstances and associations of this dastardly murder one of the most extraordinary and unique tales in the annals of crime.

   The difficulty of the Press results in part from the instructions issued by the Lord Advocate to the police to refrain from making any statement.

   Any information whose publication would be detrimental to the ends of justice was neither desired nor expected, but the newspapers would have been satisfied with the realisation of a suggestion made some time ago that a daily report containing the results of the researches by the Criminal Department should be provided.

   In the way of news, there only remains to be repeated the assurance that the police have recently come into possession of important information that assists appreciably in the solution of the mystery. Of its exact nature there are many rumours, but no confirmation.

   The officers who, it is understood, are going to New York to attend the extradition proceedings are still in the city.

Scotsman, Thursday 14th January, 1909, p.6.

   THE GLASGOW MURDER MYSTERY – RUMOUR OF ANOTHER ARREST. – As stated yesterday, two criminal officers from Glasgow have left the city for New York in connection with the extradition proceedings against the man Oscar Slater, which begin on Tuesday next. The officers took train for Liverpool, and it is understood they sailed yesterday for America on board the White Star liner Baltic. No official information of the circumstances could be obtained, but it is stated that the officers are accompanied by an important female witness. It is expected that the extradition proceedings will be protracted, in view of the fact that the application will be opposed. It was confidently rumoured in Glasgow last night that the police had made another arrest in connection with the murder. The police, who are evidently bound to secrecy in the whole matter, neither confirm nor deny the statement. It is understood that the person arrested is a man who has been under surveillance for some time. If an arrest has been made it cannot long remain unconfirmed, as the accused must be brought before the Court within forty-eight hours.

Greenock Telegraph and Clyde Shipping Gazette, Wednesday 20th January, 1909, p.3.



   A smartly-dressed young man was remanded for twenty-four hours at Glasgow Central Police Court yesterday morning in connection with a charge directed against him of having, between the beginning of November and 10th December, from the premises of Messrs McPherson & Johnston, at 5 Union Street, Glasgow, stolen a number of waterproof coats.

   There is a remark on the remand sheet to the effect that “prisoner states that he sold several of the coats to a man named Brooks, and another to Oscar Slater, at present in custody at New York. He also states that he pledged twenty-one of the coats.”

   Prisoner was arrested in London.


   Extradition proceedings against the man Oscar Slater arrested in New York on a charge of being concerned in the murder of Miss Marion Gilchrist at Glasgow were commenced yesterday, and were adjourned for a week pending the arrival of witnesses from Glasgow, who are expected on board the Baltic.

   A stiff fight is to be made against extradition, and every effort is being made to strengthen the evidences of a clear six years’ record for the prisoner in America before going to Scotland. Slater is none the worse for his incarceration, and appears to be confident of his successful opposition to the proceedings. He eats, drinks, and sleeps well.

Daily Record and Mail, Tuesday 26th January, 1909, p.5.








   No proceeding, it seems, in any way associated with the mysterious murder of Miss Marion Gilchrist in her Glasgow flat on the 21st December can escape a suggestion of the extraordinary.

   A most adventurous passage was the lot of the witnesses who have just arrived in New York to attend the extradition examination of Oscar Slater, which, it may be remembered, was postponed until today. Not only the gales and fogs detained the Baltic, the White Star liner by which they travelled. The vessel was further delayed by having to render assistance to her sister ship, the Republic, which was run down on Saturday morning by the Lloyd-Italian liner Florida about 70 miles south of Nantucket. Bent on an exciting mission, the little party from Glasgow, who had at first been expected to attend the Court held on the 19th inst. at New York, must have been especially aggravated and distressed by the hardships and delays.

   After a passage in which there had been continual battling with wind and wave, they were forced to witness the work of rescuing the Republic’s passengers. Even when the Baltic arrived off New York port yesterday morning, there was, owing to a dense fog, delay in landing the passengers and mails.

   The Baltic, which sailed from Liverpool on Wednesday, the 13th January, had aboard Mr. William Warnock, chief Sheriff criminal officer, Glasgow, and Detective-Inspector Pyper, of the Western Division of the Glasgow Police. Accompanying the officers were the three principal witnesses, Mr. Arthur M. Adams, flautist, who lives in the flat below Miss Gilchrist’s house; Nellie Lambie, Miss Gilchrist’s maid; and the message girl who gave evidence concerning a man with a “twisted nose,” whom, she stated, she had seen descending the steps of the house just after the murder had taken place.

   Considerable doubt still exists as to whether the New York authorities will grant the extradition of Oscar Slater. It is understood that the Glasgow officers build their hopes on identification. Should the three witnesses not be unanimous in what they state, the case for extradition will be considerably weakened.

   Slater claims to be an American citizen, and this fact will weigh with the American police.

Greenock Telegraph and Clyde Shipping Gazette, Wednesday 27th January, 1909, p.3.



   The proceedings in connection with the extradition of Oscar Slater on a charge of being concerned in the murder of Miss Marion Gilchrist in Glasgow were resumed in New York Court yesterday. The witnesses examined were Mr Warnock, Mr Adams, the girl Lambie, the murdered lady’s servant; and a young girl named Barrowman. Mr Warnock described the scene of the murder; then the girl Lambie identified prisoner as the man she met coming out of the house on the night of the tragedy, and subsequently the girl Barrowman also identified the prisoner as a man she had seen coming out of the close leading to Miss Gilchrist’s house about the time of the murder. Mr Adams was prepared to admit the prisoner like the man he had seen coming out of Miss Gilchrist’s house, but would not identify him positively. The proceedings were subsequently adjourned till Thursday.

Dundee Evening Telegraph, Friday 29th January, 1909, p.2.





Says it is a Case of Mistaken Identity.

New York, Jan. 28.    

   The Extradition Court was crowded to excess to-day when the proceedings for the extradition of Otto Slater, alias Sands, in connection with the murder of Miss Marion Gilchrist at Glasgow, were resumed before Mr Commissioner Shields.

   The prosecution first submitted the deposition of Louisa Freedman, a cousin of Mrs Slater. She stated that the Slaters planned a three weeks’ trip to Monte Carlo, but there had been no mention of dates. The Slaters, she said, were not legally married.

   She lent £25 to Slater, who, after the date of the murder, instructed the maid employed by him to inform everyone who called at the house for him that he was out.

   Mr Fox, for the British Government, submitted the affidavits of twelve witnesses living at Glasgow. Several of these affidavits tended to show that the description of the man seen leaving the deceased’s house as given by them in Glasgow tallied more or less with the appearance of the prisoner here.

   The general effect of the evidence of Robert Beverage, a clerk, residing in Renfrew Street, was that he had known Slater for some time, and that his character was bad. He swore that about a fortnight before the murder he had seen Slater and another man standing opposite Miss Gilchrist’s house observing it closely.

   Louisa Freedman, cousin of Slater’s wife, residing in St George’s Road, Glasgow, swore on December 24, three days after the murder, that while she was packing her cousin’s trunk she saw a lot of jewellery, but that none of it belonged to Miss Gilchrist.

   Gordon Henderson, of India Street, Glasgow, master of the Sloper Social Club, said that on the night of the murder Slater came to the club and wanted to know if he had any cash there to his account, and, if so, he desired to withdraw it. Henderson did not notice anything special about Slater’s clothes, but he did notice that he wore a particular sort of hat, a light suit, and a waterproof overcoat. These were the same sort of clothes worn by the man seen leaving the house just before the murder was discovered.

   After one or two minor depositions had been read application was made for the examination of nine trunks belonging to Slater, and Mr Miller, counsel for the defence agreed to this being done.

   It is stated that the prosecution expects the examination of these trunks to have important results.

   Mr Miller said that the defence was that it was a case of mistaken identity. He pointed out that Slater did not sail for America until four days after the murder, and asked how it was, if the Scottish witnesses were speaking the truth, that he was not arrested before sailing.

   The hearing was adjourned until to-morrow morning.

   The prisoner Slater was calm and collected throughout the proceedings.

   The witnesses brought from Scotland will return on Saturday, on board the Baltic.

   It is thought that Slater will be unable to escape extradition, and the decision will probably be given within a fortnight.




Which May Lead to Another Arrest.

New York, Friday.    

   There was a sensational development last evening in connection with the application of the British Government for the extradition of Oscar Slater for the alleged murder in Glasgow of Miss Gilchrist.

   After the hearing of the evidence the attorneys of Slater stated that they had discovered that part of the deposition of Miss Helen Lambie taken in Scotland had been left out of the verbal testimony which she has given here, and this they declared may clear Slater and probably convict another man. The particular portion of the depositions which was omitted from Miss Lambie’s testimony before the United States Commissioner on Tuesday last has reference to a man who described to a friend of Miss Lambie various articles of jewellery which were stolen from Miss Gilchrist, the murdered woman.

Daily Record and Mail, Wednesday 3rd February, 1909, p.3.



   The White Star liner Baltic is expected to reach Liverpool on Saturday night or Sunday. Among her passengers are the three Glasgow witnesses who appeared in the New York Courts last week in support of the application for the extradition of Oscar Slater, alias Otto Sands, in connection with the murder of Miss Marion Gilchrist in her flat in West Princes Street, Glasgow.

   Detectives Warnock and Piper are remaining in New York for the present, and will be in attendance at the Extradition Court on Friday, when the hearing of the case is resumed.

   Mr. Gordon Henderson, master of the Glasgow Motor Club, India Street, has directed our attention to the fact that in the long cable sent by our New York correspondent he was erroneously described as master of the Sloper Club, of which Slater was a member. We learn that Mr. Henderson has nothing whatever to do with the latter club. Although the two clubs are next door to each other, there is no connection either as to management or otherwise between them.

   On the night of the murder of Miss Gilchrist Slater knocked at the door of the Motor Club, and Mr. Henderson opened it in the ordinary course. Slater was not a member of this club, but he asked Mr. Henderson if he could give him any ready cash, for which he would give him a cheque. The clubmaster did not oblige him, and Slater went away, presumably to the Sloper Club.

   We regret that Mr. Henderson’s name should have been associated with the Sloper Club, with which, as we have already said, he has absolutely no connection.

Dundee Evening Telegraph, Friday 5th February, 1909, p.4.




To Take His Trial.

New York, Thursday.    

   By an agreement made by the lawyers on both sides in the extradition case affecting Oscar Slater, the suspected murderer of Miss Marion Gilchrist in Glasgow just before Christmas, the proceedings are likely to be expedited.

   It is agreed that Slater will voluntarily return to take his trial in Glasgow provided that the testimony of four New York men as to his character and business plans is allowed to be put in and exhibited in the Glasgow proceedings if the case is carried further in that city.

   Two of the witnesses speak to Slater’s previous good character, and the others to business dealings with him in the jewellery trade. – Daily News.

Dundee Evening Telegraph, Tuesday 9th February, 1909, p.2.



In Connection With a 1904 Robbery.


   The extradition of Oscar Slater on a charge of murdering Miss Gilchrist in her flat in Glasgow on December 21 incidentally led to the arrest of David Jacobs, a man “wanted” by the London police on a charge of robbing the Earl of Chesterfield on March 18, 1904, of a pearl scarfpin of the value of £600.

   Jacobs, alias Sticks, voluntarily came forward to the extradition proceedings to testify to the good character of Slater. When cross-examined as to whether he made a practice of disposing of contraband jewellery on both sides of the Atlantic, Jacobs indignantly protested that he and Slater were legitimate dealers.

   Yesterday when Jacobs went to obtain a pass to visit Slater in the Tombs Prison the officials alleged that they identified him as No. 5947 in the English rogues’ gallery.

   Jacobs, arraigned before the United States Commissioner, Mr Shields, admitted pawning the pin, but said he purchased it in the ordinary course of business. He was sent to the Tombs Prison to await extradition. – Daily Mail.

Northern Chronicle and General Advertiser for the North of Scotland, Wednesday 17th February, 1909, p.6.



   AFTER fighting against extradition for six weeks, Oscar Slater, alias Sands and Anderson, was taken in irons on board the Anchor Line steamer Columbia on Saturday, and is now on the way to Glasgow, where he will be indicted for the murder of Miss Marion Gilchrist, a wealthy spinster, on the night of December 16, 1908. Before sailing Slater said, “I fought against extradition because I am not a murderer. I did not know and never heard of Miss Gilchrist. My one regret is that I have been treated shabbily by America, my adopted country. I hope to prove my innocence.” Slater is a German by birth and a dentist by profession. He has travelled all over the world, but has not practised dentistry for several years. Three years ago he was manager of the Italian-American Club in New York.

Scotsman, Monday 22nd February, 1909, p.7.





   OSCAR SLATER, the man whose name has for many weeks been associated with the murder of Miss Marion Gilchrist in her house in West Princes Street, Glasgow, on the evening of Monday, December 21, arrived in Glasgow yesterday afternoon from America, and was taken to the cells at the Central Police Station. It will be recalled that after his arrest and examination under criminal law in New York, Slater, in charge of two Glasgow officers – William Warnock, chief Sheriff criminal officer, County Buildings, and Detective Sub-Inspector Pyper, of the Western Division – was taken on board the Anchor Line steamer Columbia about ten days ago, bound for Glasgow. The vessel arrived at its destination yesterday afternoon. No event in the city’s annals of crime has aroused so much public interest as the West End murder, and every movement taken by the authorities in dealing with Slater in connection with the affair has been keenly followed. During the passage of the vessel across the Atlantic the interest has been temporarily suspended, but the huge crowds which surrounded the Anchor Line berth for hours before the arrival of the vessel yesterday showed the desire to resume a watchful interest in Slater, and follow the development of affairs to the end. Slater, however, did not arrive in Glasgow with the steamer, but in accordance with arrangements made by police, who anticipated, and wished to avoid, any display of public curiosity, was dropped, in charge of the officers, at Renfrew Pier, and conveyed from thence to Glasgow Central Police Station by motor car. A large body of police were on duty at the various points giving entrance to the berth, but the inner precincts were, of course, closed except to the privileged representatives of the authorities and the shipping company.


   When the police got information that the Columbia had reached Greenock, they dispatched two open motor cars to Renfrew. Those in charge of the vehicles resorted to a manœuvre, which was successful in diverting the crowd to an out-of-the-way spot. They ran direct to Fulbar Street Railway Station, and there awaited a signal from the river, when they hastened in a straight course to the wharf. At a short distance out from the wharf the Columbia slowed down, and the two officers and their prisoner, and the prisoner’s baggage, which consisted of nine boxes, were taken off by a tender. From that craft they were conveyed to the motor cars. The first car, with Mr McLauchlan in charge, was occupied by Detective Dornan, of the Western Division, Mr Warnock, Slater, handcuffed to Detective Pyper, and Superintendent Douglas, of the Western Division, who had joined the vessel at Greenock. The occupants of the second car were two detective officers, and Slater’s baggage was also packed into it. Without loss of time the cars proceeded along the south bank of the river, passing through Govan, thence into Paisley Road, and by Gorbals and across the river at Jail Square, arriving at the Central Police Station about twenty minutes past two o’clock. There, too, a considerable crowd had gathered, not drawn, however, by any knowledge as to Slater’s expected arrival, but attracted chiefly by the exceptionally large body of police on duty in the neighbourhood. Yet the cars were not obstructed in their progress, and turned at a fair rate of speed into the courtyard, where the occupants alighted and entered the Detective Department. There Chief Superintendent Orr and Detective Superintendent Ord, with other officers, were on duty.


   Slater was dressed in a dark suit and a long black overcoat. Seeing the crowd of police officials as he entered, he smiled, and with mock courtesy lifted his hat. First he attempted to do this, with the hand accustomed to the act, but in the effort was inconveniently reminded that it was manacled. He thereupon promptly brought the other to the service. At the bar of the office he was released from the handcuffs, and was questioned at some length by the chief of the detective staff, Mr Ord. Thereafter he was supplied with refreshments, and afterwards was confronted with a great many witnesses, who included Mr Adams, the flautist, and a number of ladies. He was then taken to the cells, and will appear at the bar of the Police Court this forenoon.

   In appearance Slater, who is tall and of a wiry build, is peculiar in many respects. The deformed nose, of which so much has been made, is a feature which, once noticed, is not likely to be forgotten. It is not so noticeable on a front view of the face, but is the most conspicuous feature when looking at the profile.

   On the way across from America Slater was kept confined pretty closely to his quarters, which was a cabin known as the hospital room, situated near the upper deck. He was cheerful, however, so far as his restricted freedom would permit, and is said to have at times afforded amusement to the stewards by certain conjuring tricks as a means of relieving the tedium of the voyage.


   The large crowds who had gathered around Stobcross Quay were much disappointed when they learned that their long watch had proved a vain test of patience. It was not until the last of the steamer’s passengers had emerged from the harbour shed that the rumour began to circulate among them that Slater had been conveyed to the city by another route. At first it was thought by those nearest to the exit, who had made a careful scrutiny of every little group of passengers as they emerged either on foot or in a conveyance, that the police had cleverly managed to take their prisoner out from the quay by some private passage. Gradually the story of the landing at Renfrew became generally known, and then the disappointed crowds began to see the humour of the situation which had been brought about by the police authorities’ clever move to avoid anything in the nature of unseemly demonstrations. To doubt the story was out of the question, since it was received in many cases from passengers who had just disembarked from the vessel. Later it was generally learned that Slater had been taken from Renfrew by motor car to the Central Police Station, where he had arrived an hour before the steamer began to discharge her passengers at Glasgow.

Dundee Courier, Tuesday 23rd February, 1909, p.6.



   The general public were excluded from the Glasgow Central Criminal Court yesterday until the first case, that against Slater, had been disposed of.

   There was, however, a good crowd of interested spectators when Police Judge J. H. Martin took his seat.

   Into the bar was led a well-dressed man, of a good average height, when Slater’s case was called, dressed in a blue Melton coat with black velvet collar, and carrying a bowler hat in his hand. Slater possessed quite a smart appearance. His “double” collar was spotless, and he wore a dark blue tie. He has black hair and a black moustache. His complexion is somewhat sallow, but a prominent feature of his face is his nose, which has the appearance of having a broken bridge.

   Slater gave one keen look round the Court as he stepped into the bar, and then he faced the Magistrate.

   He did not make a move in his body or his face as the charge was read over, but looked steadily at the Magistrate, his demeanour being cool in the extreme.

   The Fiscal read from the charge:- “Oscar Slater, alias Otto Sands, alias Anderson, you are charged with having, on 21st December, 1908, in Marion Gilchrist’s house, 15 Queen’s Terrace, West Princes Street, Glasgow, assaulted the said Marion Gilchrist, and did beat her and fracture her skull, and did murder her. I move,” concluded the Fiscal, “for a warrant to detain for forty-eight hours.”

   Mr Ewing Spiers, writer, said that he appeared for Slater.

   The Magistrate, to accused – You are remanded for forty-eight hours.

   Slater was then led back to the cells.

Scotsman, Wednesday 24th February, 1909, p.8.





   OSCAR SLATER, who is confined under remand at Glasgow in connection with inquiries into the murder of Miss Marion Gilchrist, in the West End of the city, on December 21, has, since his arrival from America on Sunday, displayed varying moods and changing conditions of health. After his appearance at the Central Police Court on Monday, he suffered all day from a nervous complaint, and at night was prescribed a soothing draught by Dr Lothian, the casualty surgeon. This had the effect of inducing sleep, and yesterday morning he felt better, and enjoyed a good breakfast. Even in his confinement Slater shows taste in his habits, while his bearing towards others is at all times polite. He is quite sanguine as to the result of his trial. To-day he will be brought up on remand at the Central Police Court, and formally remitted to the Sheriff. After his declaration has been taken by his Lordship, he will be lodged in Duke Street Prison to await trial.

   It has been found by examination of the register kept by the Sheriff-Clerk of Lanarkshire at the County Buildings, Glasgow, that Slater was married in these buildings before the Sheriff on July 12, 1901. The name entered in the register is Oscar Leschziner Slater, dentist, and the address of 33 Kelvinhaugh Street, Glasgow. Mrs Slater’s maiden name is entered as Mary Curtis Pryor, and her address also was 33 Kelvinhaugh Street, Glasgow. This lady is understood to be residing in London at present.

Dundee Courier, Saturday 27th March, 1909, p.5.


   The trial of Oscar Slater on the charge of murdering Miss Marion Gilchrist in her house at Glasgow will begin on Monday, 17th May, in the High Court of Justiciary in Edinburgh.

   The Lord Justice-Clerk will preside at the trial, and the case for the Crown will be conducted by the Lord Advocate (Mr Alexander Ure, K.C., M.P.).

   Mr Alexander McClure, K.C., Sheriff of Argyllshire, has been retained for the defence.

Ardrossan and Saltcoats Herald, Friday 2nd April, 1909, p.2.

   The date of the trial of Oscar Slater, who is charged with the murder of Miss Marion Gilchrist in Glasgow, has been changed at his own request, from May 17 to May 3.

Dundee Evening Telegraph, Wednesday 7th April, 1909, p.4.





For Glasgow West End Murder.

   The indictment framed by the Crown against Oscar Slater, who was arrested at New York on a charge of murdering the octogenarian lady, Miss Marion Gilchrist, at 15 Queen’s Terrace, Glasgow, has been served on him in Duke Street Prison.

   The charge is as follows:-

   “Oscar Slater, sometime residing at 69 St George’s Road, Glasgow, and presently a prisoner in the Prison of Glasgow, you are indicted at the instance of the Right Honourable Alexander Ure, His Majesty’s Advocate, and the charge against you is that you did, on 21st December, 1908, in Marion Gilchrist’s house, No. 15 Queen ‘s Terrace, West Princes Street, Glasgow, assault the said Marion Gilchrist and did beat her with a hammer or other blunt instrument and fracture her skull and did murder her.”

   Slater will be brought up at a pleading diet to be held in the Justiciary Buildings, Jail Square, Glasgow, on April 20, at which he will be remitted for trial to the High Court of Justiciary in Edinburgh on May 3. Lord Guthrie, it is stated, will preside at the trial, which is likely to extend over four days. The case for the Crown will be conducted by the Lord Advocate (Mr Alexander Ure, K.C., M.P.), and Mr Alexander McClure, K.C., Sheriff of Argyllshire, has been retained for the defence.

   There are ninety-eight witnesses for the prosecution, and the productions in the case number sixty-nine. Among the productions are a waterproof coat, a felt or woollen hat, two cloth caps, a hammer and several other tools, a box of matches, and a spent match, the last-mentioned it is understood, having been found in Miss Gilchrist’s house.

   The witnesses include Mrs Ferguson, Kilmarnock, and Helen Lambie, former domestic servants with the deceased lady; the girl Barrowman, Mr Arthur M. Adams, the flautist, and his sisters; Professors Glaister and Galt, Professor Harvey Littlejohn (Edinburgh), and Dr Wright, casualty surgeon of the Western Division of Glasgow.

Dundee Evening Telegraph, Tuesday 20th April, 1909, p.2.





In Answer to Sheriff’s Question To-Day.

   Oscar Slater appeared at a pleading diet of the High Court held at Glasgow to-day. Sheriff Mackenzie presided.

   Slater, well-groomed and finely-dressed in black overcoat, black gloves, with bowler hat in hand, showed himself to be none the worse of his two months’ incarceration in Duke Street.

   It was Sunday, 21st February, that he made his sensational re-entry into Glasgow on the charge of murdering Miss Gilchrist. He replied to the Sheriff with a slight shake of the head and a firm, “No, I am not guilty.”

   Slater was represented by an agent, who, however, made no comment. The accused was then remitted to the High Court at Edinburgh, the trial there commencing on Monday, May 3.

   The public were excluded from the Court, but gathered in large numbers outside. A strong force of police was present, and Slater was conveyed back to Duke Street Prison.

Banffshire Advertiser, Thursday 29th April, 1909, p.8.

   Oscar Slater, whose trial for the alleged murder of Miss Gilchrist begins in the High Court of Justiciary on Monday next, has now been removed from Glasgow to the Calton Prison, Edinburgh.

Greenock Telegraph and Clyde Shipping Gazette, Saturday 1st May, 1909, p.4.

   The arrangements are now complete for the trial of Oscar Slater in Edinburgh on Monday for the murder of Miss Gilchrist. The demand for admission to the Court has been almost unprecedented. It is expected that the trial will be concluded by Thursday.

That ends part one of our fourth and last case; that of Oscar Slater for the murder of Miss Marion Gilchrist. Do the police have the right man after going to such lengths to obtain him from New York? It seems the brooch he’d pawned was initially mainly responsible for his apprehension and that even it’s true origin didn’t seem to go against his supposed guilt. It appears his nose is alone what’s got him into trouble as there’s not any solid evidence linking him to this atrocious crime. We’ll see how his trial goes in the next episode. We may see you for it. Take care.

Narration by Jenny

Art by Alex

Intro-Outro by Tony ‘Lucky Dog’ Wilson

Greysteil by Paul Burns.

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