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Thomas Ricoletti
Thomas Ricoletti
Vital statistics
Died December 18, 1894
Nationality British
Family Emelia Ricoletti (wife)
Behind the scenes
Appearances "The Abominable Bride"

Thomas Ricoletti was the victim in a famous unsolved murder case of the late nineteenth century. The case attracted considerable attention because Mr Ricoletti recognized his assailant as his wife Emelia, who had publicly committed suicide several hours before his murder. Due to its apparent supernatural characteristics, the case became a famous ghost story associated with a number of subsequent murders.

Crime

On the morning of December 18, 1894, the day of their wedding anniversary, Ricoletti's wife Emelia appeared on the balcony of their home wearing her wedding gown, with her face white as death with her mouth apparently smeared with blood. 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.

Later that night Mr 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 show 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.

Aftermath

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 Mr Ricoletti himself 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. Most of the murders were committed the same way, with the men murdered in their own homes with rice thrown on the floor like a wedding and the word YOU written in blood on the wall.

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.

Trivia

  • This character is a reference to an old case of Holmes' mentioned in The Adventure of the Musgrave Ritual: that of "Ricoletti of the club foot and his abominable wife." The Chinese characters next to the door of the opium den are 马蹄内翻足, the Chinese word for "club foot".

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