By José Alberto Gaytán García*
On April 27, 1842, the capital of the country was shocked to learn of the brutal murder of an English citizen named Daniel Thomas Egerton and his partner Agnes Edwards. The pair of British citizens had left, as they used to do every evening, to take a leisurely stroll through the gardens and roads near their beautiful country house, a former monastery that in the eigh-teenth century belonged to the Abbots of the convent of San Diego. The house was located in the ancient village of Tacubaya, now a populous colony of Mexico City. In an area known as Pila Vieja the couple was brutally stabbed. The beautiful 20 year old woman was raped and strangled cowardly.
When authorities found the bodies of the victims they were shocked by the terrible bloody crime scene so unusual, drawing their attention to the macerated body of Agnes Edwards who had on her chest a piece of cardboard with the inscription or message “Florencio Egerton. Home of the Abbots. Tacubaya”. Mexican society was outraged to learn more about the news that the murdered girl was seven months pregnant. She was a muralist and had just arrived in Me-xico invited by her ill-fated companion an English nobleman, artist and painter, by the nobility of England and Europe and the intellectual high societyof the United States.
The terrible crime broke the tranquility of the town of Tacubaya, which at that time was fashionable for the wealthy people of Mexico to build their summer houses there; these houses or farms were built amidst beautiful gardens of azaleas and buganvilia surrounding beautiful hills of Sabinos, cypresses, pepper trees and agaves. Tthe village of Tacubaya was also a hot spot because in the monastery of the former Archdiocese a colonial building similar to the national palace the office of the government of Mexico was temporarily there, this by order of General Santa Anna, who had settled there with his sixth presidential administration based on the Plan of Tacubaya, a political movement that in 1841 overthrew President Anastasio Bustamante.
The people of the upper class was so startled by the murder that without thinking twice,they moved back to the noisy capital of 200,000 inhabitants, but not before harshly criticizing President Santa Anna and his police authorities for not providing appropriate security and for not having caught those responsible for the brutal murder.
Rumors of all kinds circulated in the streets, for example, people from the popular classes claimed that in Pila Vieja, the crime scene, the devil would appear there and that after eight in the evening the murdered couple appeared. People commented that there were villagers who swore to have seen them walking through the maguey. In turn, the upper class complained that decent people could not live safely in Tacabuya. The political enemies of President Santa Anna exaggerated this police fact to harshly criticize the government for allegedly abetting the murderers, who did not appear anywhere.
The crime of the English couple came at a bad time for President Santa Anna who had several “irons in the fire” referring to the serious problems that disturbed the sleep of the general of Veracruz. For example, he had “above all” the government of the United States who pressed him to free a group of U.S. citizens who had been part of the failed Texan Santa Fe expedition. He also had unresolved the fire to the Veracruz Customs Agency and now had upset the government of England demanding clarification immediately for the murder of the famous English painter and his companion. To be continue…
Acerca del autor
- José Alberto Gaytán García ha escrito artículos y ensayos de corte académico en diarios y revistas de México y de los Estados Unidos; ha participado en importantes proyectos académicos e impartido conferencias sobre temas de historia, tecnología y educación en el marco de las relaciones entre México y los Estados Unidos, tema en el cual realizó sus estudios de doctorado en The Graduate School of Internacional Studies de la Universidad de Miami.