Arthur Blatch was wanted for murder.
In 1893, the house of Alfred Welch in Colchester, England, burnt down. Welch was found in the rubble with his throat cut and his skull fractured.
Evidence pointed strongly at a man called Arthur Blatch - but he was never arrested or charged. Blatch had been a porter for Welch.
Over £100 was missing. And so was Blatch.
There were rumours he was in New Zealand but there was never any evidence.
Then in 1900 police announced they had caught Arthur Blatch in Wellington near the Duke of Edinburgh hotel.
He was taken before a court and charged with the murder of Welch.
The court had to decide whether to send him back to England to face the charge.
But there was a problem. Was he really Arthur Blatch? He claimed to be Charles Lillywhite - an American. And he said he could prove it.
He had personal papers and letters in the name of Lillywhite. His fiancee was produced who said he was Lillywhite.
Another man, who had known Blatch in England - but hadn’t seen him for 10 years - said he was Blatch.
One witness, who started out compelling, was George Hewson who had known Blatch well, but then he mentioned he was now blind and he could certainly not see the man in the dock across the courtroom.
There were several remands and Blatch/Lillywhite spent Christmas in jail without any resolution. Two visitors, one a police officer from Colchester, were brought to the court in 1901 - they were initially unable to identify the man as Blatch but then changed their minds and agreed he was.
Despite some misgivings, the judge decided to send him to England for it to be sorted out.
The man’s lawyer then did something a bit unusual. He filed for habeas corpus - a legal term meaning literally - produce the body - which challenges the right of the state to hold him.
Before it even began, the man received more letters from America, calling him Lillywhite, from Tacoma, Washington in America.
A Supreme Court hearing could not decide - there were two judges and they disagreed.
It was then Blatch/Lillywhite agreed to be extradited and he left New Zealand under guard by a police officer.
Blatch had a wife in England, who told police her husband had drowned.
Blatch/Lillywhite arrived in England and a manhunt began for anyone who had known Blatch but in court hearings 40 people who had known him could not identify the man in the dock.
In an even weirder turn of events, Isaac Lillywhite - the supposed man’s brother couldn’t pick him out of a line-up of 18 others.
It took a while but finally he was declared to be Lillywhite. He was given £600 in compensation.
Which leaves only one question. Was Arthur Blatch the man who killed Alfred Welch?
Now normally we finish with a grave - but both Blatch and Lillywhite have now passed unnoticed into history although we know that Lillywhite returned to Tacoma where he died.
So for the sake of completeness, Charles Robert Broberg - who was one of the police officers who arrested Lillywhite - went on to be a high ranking officer - he died on November 20, 1937 and is buried in Karori Cemetery.
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