From a wealthy middle class
background, her family was known to suffer from mental
illness. Her father had suffered, and a brother and
sister had mental illness.
Living with her mother in
Brighton in the 1860's, she began an affair with her
married Doctor. When he broke up the relationship, she
appeared at his door several days later with a gift of
chocolates for his wife. The wife became very ill, but
recovered. The Doctor suspected Edmunds, but had no
proof, and suspected it was revenge for ending the
1871, Edmunds began
buying chocolates from a local shop, she would then lace
them with strychnine, which she obtained pretending to
need the poison to control pests, she would then return
the chocolates to the shop.
June 1871, Four year
old Sidney Banker was on holiday with his family
in Brighton. After buying chocolates from 'Maynards he
became ill, and later died. The coroner ruled the death
accidental. Several other people in the area had become
ill, but no one made a connection.
Edmunds increased her
efforts and started sending chocolates in the post to
local dignities and and politicians, she even sent a
parcel of chocolates to herself so she could claim to be
a victim. She also sent more chocolates to the doctors
wife, this time he was suspicious, and called the
police. Edmunds was arrested for the attempted murder of
the doctors wife, Mrs Beard, and the murder of Sidney
At the trial at the Old Bailey in London, Edmunds mother
claimed there was mental illness in both sides of the
family and that this was to blame for her daughters
behaviour. Dr Beard also gave evidence claiming it was
not a full affair he had had, but instead mild
flirtation, the defence claimed it was a sexual
relationship, and that when he broke it off, it was this
that sent her over the edge.
found guilty and sentenced to death, but because of her
mental state this was commuted to life imprisonment.
She spent the rest of her
days at Broadmoor, dying there in 1907 at the age of 78.