Monday, 29 July 2013

The Julia Wallace Murder

Celebrated mystery writer Raymond Chandler labelled it "The Unbeaten Case".  It has been the subject of a number of books, and inspired a number of TV & film interpretations, and had a broadcast about the case on local Liverpool radio station Radio City in 1981, fifty years after the event.  In this, broadcaster Roger Wilkes named a suspect for the first time.  This suspect had died a year before, so Roger Wilkes was in no danger of our libel laws.  He wrote a highly praised book with material from the show.

    This case ranks along with the Black Dahlia, The Zodiac and Jack the Ripper,as the greatest mysteries of our times.  Everybody has their theories and hypothesis, and this case is no exception.  So what happened?  It was January 1931, in the Anfield district of Liverpool, and insurance clerk for the Prudential Assurance Company, Herbert Wallace had a message for him at his chess club that a Mr R. M. Qualtrough wished to discuss business with him at his home in Menlove Gardens East.  Wallace had been married to his wife Julia, for sixteen years and lived a steady though hardly comfortable existence.  Wallace was tall, gaunt and dressed rather a bit old fashioned, was labelled stoic, and in the latter part of his fifties.  His wife was around the same age.  He received the message from his colleague at his chess club on January 19th and went to see Mr Qualtrough the following night.

    Wallace had difficulty locating Menlove Gardens East.  There were Menlove Gardens North, South & West, but no East.  He spent some time trying some addresses, asking people, but could not find this street.  He returned home to find his wife dead, suffering massive blunt trauma.  The Police some days later suspected Wallace of the murder, after one suspect, named by Wallace, was cleared of suspicion.  On February 2nd, Wallace was arrested, after enquiries had thrown considerable doubt on his alibi, and Police believed he still had time to commit the murder.  No motive was ever found.  Wallace was put on trial in Liverpool on April 22nd, was convicted and sentenced to death.

    An appeal was launched and it was allowed, freeing Wallace, yet bizarrely, the Police refused to reopen the case.  Wallace was regarded by many as having gotten away with murder, and eventually he moved over to the Wirral.  He died in February 1933 at Clatterbridge Hospital.  If Wallace was innocent, then who did it?  As early as 1934, a book hinted at a suspect but obviously could not name him.  Highly respected crime writer Jonathan Goodman, whom was a guest on the Roger Wilkes broadcast, confronted this man at his home in 1966, but he denied any involvement.  He died on April 14th 1980.  Roger Wilkes named him on his show.  His name was Richard Gordon Parry.  He was named by Wallace, but he had an alibi.  He was with a woman who said they were together at the time of the murder. Two years later, this woman threatened to disprove the alibi of Parry, saying that they were NOT together at the time.  This woman was named Lily Lloyd.  She refused to speak to Roger Wilkes when he did his investigation.  There was subsequent suppression of evidence by Police that would have extremely damaging to the prosecution.  After the Wilkes broadcast, Merseyside Police refused to release the files on the case and the Home Office declined to get involved.

    This is a very complex case with so many twists and turns that it would take so long to cover everything. There are the "Wallace is guilty" camps and the "Wallace is innocent" camps.  What one can state as proof, can also be used as alibi.  There are the theories that Wallace had Parry and a man named Marsden commit the murder. Another has Mrs Wallace paying Parry & Marsden for sex.  Again, nothing positive to back it up.  A very good forum to look at is "Yo Liverpool".  Type in Julia Wallace and you will find extensive theories between posters.  As Chandler said, "The Wallace case is unbeaten. It will always be unbeaten".