Emelia Ricoletti
Emelia Ricoletti
Vital statistics
Born 1868
Died December 18, 1894
Nationality British
Spouse Thomas Ricoletti
Siblings Unnamed brother (deseased)
Occupation Housewife
Behind the scenes
Appearances "The Abominable Bride"
Portrayed by Natasha O'Keeffe

Emelia Ricoletti was a famous suicide of the late nineteenth century. Her case attracted considerable attention after the subsequent murder of her husband, Thomas Ricoletti, by a woman he identified as Emelia. Because of its unusual nature and apparent supernatural characteristics, the case became a famous ghost story and was associated with a number of subsequent murders.


On the morning of December 18, 1894, the day of her wedding anniversary, Mrs Ricoletti appeared on the balcony of her home wearing her wedding gown, pale as death and with what appeared to be lipstick smeared around her mouth. In an apparent fit of madness she began firing off two revolvers indiscriminately into the street, all the while saying "you?". Eventually she placed one gun in her mouth and publicly committed suicide. At the time of her death she was twenty-six years old. The suicide was considered unremarkable.

However, only a few hours later that evening her husband, Thomas Ricoletti, was exiting an opium den in Limehouse when he was stopped in the street by a carriage. A woman in a white wedding dress and veil exited the coach and approached Ricoletti carrying a shotgun, all the while singing. This scene attracted the attention of a nearby constable, who was however unarmed and unable to intervene. After asking Mr Ricoletti whether he recognized their wedding song, the woman removed her veil to reveal to him her face. Mr Ricoletti was heard to identify the woman as his wife, Emelia, before she shot him twice in the chest. She then proceeded to wander down the street and disappear into the fog before the policeman could summon reinforcements. Despite investigation by Scotland Yard the case remained famously unsolved.


The supernatural aspects of Mr Ricoletti's murder attracted a good deal of attention and its details were widely disseminated by the contemporary press. The body of Mrs Ricoletti had been positively identified in the morgue by several friends, yet the woman in the carriage had been recognized as the same by the cab-driver who drove her to Limehouse, and by her unfortunate husband prior to his death. The case quickly lodged itself in the public imagination, and a popular legend quickly developed around the spectral "Bride", portraying Emelia Ricoletti as a vengeful ghost who killed unfaithful or abusive husbands. In the months following her death at least six further murders were attributed to the Bride, including those of a sea-captain, Viscount Hummersknot, a peer of the realm, and Sir Eustace Carmichael. Emelia herself was already dying of consumption, and was therefore happier to pass away in a cause than simply to be yet another victim.

Over one hundred years later Sherlock Holmes would use this case as a test example to try and understand how it could have been possible for Jim Moriarty to have survived his own suicide.


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