Rendell was the last woman legally hanged in Western Australia.
- In Brief – lived 10/08/1887 – 09/10/1909
- Murdered her three stepchildren through poisoning between 1907 and 1908.
- Executed by hanging at Fremantle Prison.
- The last woman to be legally hanged in Western Australia.
- 55 years after her burial, convicted serial killer Eric Edgar Cooke was buried on top of her pauper's grave, he was the last man hanged in Western Australia.
- Spirits of Salts - colourless, transparent liquid, historically known as Muriatic acid. Today known as Hydrochloric acid.
The family moved to Western Australia for a fresh start but it wasn’t to be. Sarah left the home and immediately Martha Rendell moved in. Martha, the ‘kept’ mistress, had followed the family to WA and now had Sarah and Thomas’ five children calling her mother. Martha was later portrayed as a ‘Scarlett woman’ and the ‘Wicked Stepmother’. She was known to have a mean, vicious streak and would often lose her temper and beat the children.
Arthur, Annie and Olive Morris died of the same condition. They all suffered from a peculiar membranous condition of the throat and mouth. Arthur suffered from burning in the stomach and after three months of pain succumbed to cardiac failure, ulceration of the bowels and haemorrhage.
Strength to this suspicion came when a neighbour wrote an anonymous letter to the Dr as she had heard rumours of Arthur screaming ‘murder’ and ‘police’ when Martha would give him ‘medicine’.
This was enough for both Thomas and Martha to be examined by authorities. The children’s bodies were exhumed and their throat tissue tested and it was confirmed that poisoning from ‘spirits of salts’ (hydrochloric acid) was found to be the true cause of death. Thomas was tried as an accessory to murder as he had purchased ‘spirits of salts’ from the chemist but was acquitted as the jury found that he was unaware what they were being used for.
Urban legend has it that an illusion appears on one of the prison windows which can only be seen on the outside of the window; when inside the church looking out the glass is smooth and even, with no unusual shape or texture. An urban legend has it that this illusion is the portrait of Rendell, who watches over the prison.
Put together by Ashley Hall 2013