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Redemption and Lasting Mystery

In 1904, the death sentence was often passed, but rarely carried out. Among those who would avoid the gallows - and spend their lives in prison instead - were minor offenders, clergy, soldiers, sailors, members of Her Majesty's Clockwork Watch, and pregnant women.

Phillips's pregnancy was discovered during her trial, but not brought into evidence until sentencing. Her sentence of death was permanently delayed, but it appears that the pregnancy proved trying. In the letters she wrote to various Scotland Yard detectives, pleading to have the case reopened, she seemed certain she would die in childbirth.

One such letter fell on the desk of Detective Inspector Harold Peake, a restless man who had was known for pursuing cold cases and giving convictions a second look in his off hours. Peake launched a second investigation, using only the original evidence gathered in the initial investigation.

What he discovered was this: Andrea Jo Phillips was telling the truth. The falsified sales transactions - the ones in which she had allegedly taken the robots used in the murders - happened in a different area of the city than all of Phillips's other sales. On closer examination, one sales slip allegedly filled out by Phillips did not match her handwriting. But the final and most important fact was that, according to the records, Andrea Jo Phillips didn't begin working as a Gimmick Girl until one month after the first murder.

In the ninth month of her pregnancy, Andrea Jo Phillips was released from prison. She went into hospital shortly after and delivered a baby boy, Daniel Phillips - but the child was ill and died within a few days. In her diary, Andrea Jo called him the eighth victim of the Brass Widow.

In the end, Andrea Jo Phillips was just an innocent woman trying to make her way in the world, framed for a crime she couldn't have committed, and thrown to the wolves to save a company from scandal. Though the Mech-related killing spree had ended (in fact, the last death was months before Phillips was arrested), the killer's true identity remains unknown to this day.

Who was she, the woman who killed seven Londoners with a tiny army of brass murderers? It's possible she was someone Andrea Jo knew - maybe even a work friend. Or maybe she was a stranger, just another girl in the green and brass.

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Copyright 2010 Haley Moore