In June of 1881, one of the earliest examples of a police composite sketch was used by Scotland Yard in the case of the “British Railway Murderer”. While on a train, a 64-year-old coin dealer named Isaac Frederick Gold was robbed of a gold watch and a large sum of money and then murdered, both by stabbing and by shooting. Based solely on a verbal description, a profile sketch was made and 22-year-old murderer Percy Lefroy Mapleton was located within a month.
The sketch was placed on a wanted poster and created a great deal of interest from the general public since this had not been previously done. The poster included a physical description of the perpetrator along with certain details about the crime. It also announced that there was a 200 pound reward.
Later, an additional courtroom sketch of the vain Mapleton was made during his trial as he sat cross-armed in the dock. He was found guilty of willful murder and ultimately executed by hanging. After his execution, a wax figure of Mapleton was exhibited at Madame Tussaud’s in London where I used to work in my youth! From the earliest days of the museum, Madame Tussaud was known for an interest in crime and punishment which led to the creation of her famous “Chamber of Horrors”. Mapleton was featured there for a number of years.