So, I was flipping through the channels the other night looking to catch a good horror flick. As I’m scrolling down the guide, I see that, Sweeney Todd musical nightmare. Sorry Ya’ll can’t do it, it’s just wrong! Anyway, I thought I’d tell you about the original Sweeney Todd legend, just to kind of wipe the bad taste out of my mouth. Now I know that a lot of you guys know about this story, but listen anyway, you might just learn something new!
So this dude, Sweeney Todd, was supposed to have been a fictitious character from an old London periodical called, “The Penny Dreadful.” But, some folks believe that the character was based off of a serial killer from old English legends. Ya’ll already know that all legends, are based off of some seed of truth. Now, Thomas Prest, the dude who supposedly created Sweeney Todd, was known to peruse newspapers, looking for details from horrific crimes that he’d base his “fictional” stories on.
But, recent research is suggesting that Sweeney Todd was more than just a character and he’s being accredited for the murders of over 160 men throughout his 27 year reign of terror.
As a child, Todd grew up in a violent household, both parents were raging alcoholics and often beat or abused each other, and him. In order to avoid the constant brawling between his parents, Todd spent most of his afternoons in a museum in the tower of London. He was partial to the area where various torture devices were on display. Sounds like my kind of joint! Anyway, that all came to an end during the winter of 1768 when both parents disappeared. No one really knows for sure what happened to them but it’s most likely that they froze to death in the streets of London while they were hustling for their next drink.
So now Todd, is 12 years old and alone in the world. He survived by pilfering out on the streets at least until he was arrested at age 14 for petty theft. He spent 5 years in jail mingling with murderers and thieves, he got his ass kicked on a regular basis for stealing from fellow inmates. When he wasn’t being beaten, he worked as an apprentice to the prisons barber until he served his full sentence.
In autumn of 1775, Todd was finally released from prison. He was a changed man indeed, changed, but not rehabilitated. Most men find Jesus while imprisoned, Todd found something way different.
For the next 5 years he worked as a street barber until he saved enough money to open his own shop, it was not long after when Sweeney Todd encountered Mrs. Lovett. A gruesome partnership, and love affair were born! There should be a Hallmark card for that!
Anyway, Lovett owned this popular bakery, not too far from Todd’s barbershop. Together the two of them devised a wretched but profitable agenda. You see, during this time, the economy was shitty, nobody had money and it was tough to keep a business open, folks had to be, well, creative, back in the day. So, Todd “created” a device that mounted under his barber chair, with the pull of a lever the floor would flip over, sending what ever poor unsuspected bastard was in it, tumbling to the cellar floor.
A lot of the times the victims died on impact, if not, Todd would rush down after them and slit their throats with his straight razor. The victims flesh would then be skinned from his bones and delivered to Ms. Lovett’s cellar by way of a maze of old tunnels that ran beneath the streets of London.
Once Todd had delivered the flesh of his victims, he discarded their bones and other left over pieces parts in a unused family crypt underneath this nearby church called St Dunston’s. I’m sure was all good during the cold months, but seasons do change and flesh doesn’t handle warm weather well. It was, in fact, the smell of rotting bones that would bring the demon barber to his downfall. As a footnote, even though some say that the tale of Sweeney Todd is fictional, a small room filled to the brim with bones, was discovered in 1979 while doing some excavation for a large construction project in the same area where Todd was accused of hiding his evidence.
So anyway, as the story goes, the Police were on to him now. They watched him like a hawk, day in and day out, and then, one day, when he left his shop unattended, the police broke in and searched it with a fine tooth comb. They found clothes and other valuable things which obviously had belonged to some of the numerous missing persons from around the area.
Both Sweeney Todd and Ms. Lovett were arrested. Lovett admitted to her involvement in this gruesome scheme but killed herself by ingesting poison while in police custody. Now there were no living witnesses to testify about Todd’s extracarricular activities, not that anyone would have seen him trudging his way through the tunnels of London anyway. But it was a Doctor that ultimately caused Todd’s conviction. One of the bones found in the cellar of the barber shop was identified as having belonged to a patient of this doctor, He was able to identify the leg bone as he had set it several years prior, after his patient had broken it in several places. The unique fracture lines in the healed bone is what sealed Todd’s fate.
He was later convicted and hanged on January 25, 1802, he was 46 years old.
Alright, I feel better now, I gave the legend its balls back!