Home Crime Suicide Tattoo Marks Clue – Identifies Dead Husband

Tattoo Marks Clue – Identifies Dead Husband

January 1939

Mexborough and Swinton Times January 13, 1939

Tattoo Marks Clue
Darfield Woman Identifies Dead Husband
Brighton Tragedy Recalled

The story of how she was able to identify her husband nearly two months after his death by a photograph of the dead man shown to her by the police, was related to a “South Yorkshire Times” reporter by a Darfield woman yesterday. The body of the man, Joseph Samuel Devine (44), hotel porter, was found at the foot of Black Rock, Brighton, on November 14th, and at the inquest his identity was not known.

A verdict of “Suicide while of unsound mind,” was returned.

Devine was the husband of Mrs. Elsie Devine, of 88, Edderthorpe Lane, Darfield, who for the past twelve months has been living with her father, Mr. Frederick Featherstone, at the above address.

Mrs. Devine was shown a notice circulated in the Police Gazette, and told the police that tattoo marks of a dagger and anchor and a heart, with a woman in the centre of the right forearm, and a crucifix and a skull and crossbones on the left forearm were identical with those of her husband. A photograph taken after death was also like him. Another aid to identification was a deformed finger.

Mrs. Devine, who is 34, told our reporter that her husband was an Irishman, and she had never seen his people. He left Ireland after joining the Army during the war, and never went back.

Married In 1930.

They were married in 1930 and have one child. Mrs. Devine left Darfield to go to a situation in Manchester when she was fourteen years of age, and it was there that she met her husband. For some time they were employed together as caretakers of a boys’ club in Manchester. For some twelve months they had been living apart and she last saw her husband in Barnsley last July.

Shortly after that he wrote saying he was going to Brighton for a rest holiday, and later she had a letter from London. In October he sent her his clothes, but as he did not enclose an address she could not write to him. She reported the matter to the police without delay. “It was a shock when I received his clothes,” she said.

It would appear that Devine had taken some precautions to conceal his identity. All tabs and other marks had been removed from his clothing, and at the apartment house where he had stayed for a few days before the tragedy he did not give his name. “I had no difficulty whatever in identifying him,” said Mrs. Devine.

Mrs. Devine belongs to a well-known Darfield family. For many years they have been connected with Darfield Methodist Church.