'Robert Hicks Murray' was the most well-known alias of a bigamist who committed suicide by shooting himself at his vacation home in Eastbourne, England in 1912, shortly after killing one of his wives and three of his children. He was also known by the names Robert Charles Mackie, Charles Richard Mackie and Charles Sterling (or Stirling).

Background

Among Murray's numerous unverified claims was that he had served in the Spanish-American War on the Phillipine front, presenting himself as an American captain named Charles Sterling (or Stirling), and that he had received a medal of honor from Congress for his valiance. Simultaneously, he also claimed that he had been a captain in both the Royal Scots Greys and the Seaforth Highlanders, and had been stationed in India and China. According to a sister of one of his future wives, he suffered a sunstroke while serving in India, and since then, had periodically suffered from insomnia and depression.

In 1908, he befriended James Paler, a wealthy railway official living on the Isle of Wight. Robert was introduced to the family, where he became the main love interest of both daughters: 20-year-old Florence and 17-year-old Edith. Unbeknownst to either, Murray eventually married both sisters in separate secret ceremonies, and until 1911, they would give birth to three children in total: Florence had two (Stanley and Vera) and Edith - one (Winifred).

The Eastbourne Tragedy

In the year after the birth of his last child, Murray set his sights on the daughter of a wealthy tea merchant, but realised that his two families would prove to be a burden to his plans, so he decided to get rid of both. Murray rented a large and beautiful villa on Enys Road on August 17, and first brought Edith and Winifred. He lured them to a room, named 'the blue room' because of its' color, where he killed both of them and locked the door. He then brought Florence, Stanley and Vera to the villa, explicitly forbidding them from entering the 'blue room'. Two days later, in the early morning, he asked the still-sleepy Florence if she wanted some tea, and went to the kitchen ostensibly to fetch some. He instead returned with a revolver, and shot her in the neck. Believing she had died, Murray proceeded to shoot both children, killing them on the spot. In the meantime, Florence managed to escape and call for help. Realising that his plans had been foiled, Robert gathered all of the deceased victims' bodies in the blue room, soaked them in petrol and set them alight. He then put £160 and a suicide note in a silver vase, which he left outside the house, before returning inside, pulling out a revolver and fatally shooting himself in the head.

Fortunately, firemen arrived on the scene and extinguished the premises before the bodies could be burned. Murray's note, as well as a badly burned Victoria Cross, were located. In the note, Murray mentioned his financial ruin, a desire to kill everybody close to him, and apologised to God for his sins. Investigators delved into his past, and were horrified to discover that 'Murray' was not his real name, and that the man was a bigamist who had killed at least seven previous wives as well. Despite their effort, his true identity has remained unclear.

Robert Henry Money

Some constables from Scotland Yard considered that Murray may have been Robert Henry Money, a man whose sister, Mary, had been the victim of an infamous unsolved 1905 murder in Surrey. This claim was disputed by one of his brothers, Alfred, and their connection remains only speculative.

Sources

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