Murder at the Priory: Who Killed Charles Bravo?

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On April 21st, 1876 30-year-old Charles Delauney Turner Bravo was found poisoned in the Priory, his home in South London. The ambitious British lawyer had just only married Florence Ricardo (nee Campbell), a wealthy widow five months before his death. On April 18th, 1876 Bravo had dinner with his wife and her companion, Mrs. Jane Cannon Cox (“Florence Bravo,” n.d.). After dinner Bravo retreated to his room and a few minutes later, Bravo cried out for hot water. The maid and Mrs. Cox rushed to help Bravo and he soon fell into unconsciousness. Three days later Bravo was pronounced dead. The post-mortem in St Thomas’s hospital revealed that Bravo died of a massive dose of tartar emetic – 30 to 40 grains (Scriven, 2001) and according to Thienes and Haley (1972), 150 mg of tartar emetic is a lethal dose. Bravo had swallowed ten times the lethal dosage. The corrosive substance ate away his large intestine until it had disintegrated. Many theories were put forward in the effort to capture the murderer but to no avail. So, the purpose of this essay is to shed some light on the possible suspect of Bravo’s murderer. The first suspect is Bravo himself. Police had suspected that Bravo committed suicide because he was strangely calm while on his deathbed. The doctors had questioned him several times about what had made him ill, but again and again, Bravo stuck to his story about taking the laudanum to treat his toothache before going to bed. Laudanum was commonly used in the 19th century for pain relieving effect (Jones, 2006). It was very strange for someone who is dying to be so calm and collected so the police concluded that Bravo indeed had committed suicide. However, a hundred years later, it was uncovered that tartar emetic could cause a person to be in a tranquil state (Henderson & Johnson, 2009). That would explain why Bravo was so composed about his own death. Another discovery occurred after Bravo’s death revealing that Bravo had the habit of drinking water before...
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