Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Alfred Arthur Rouse & The Burning Car Murder

Alfred Rouse was executed for the murder of a total stranger, and to this day, the identity remains a mystery.  Rouse was a womaniser and his shenanigans led to problems of women expecting marriage.  He displayed an appalling contempt for the mystery man he murdered, which did not endear him to a jury or public.  It is believed that Rouse tried to stage a Reggie Perrin-style death and seek a life away from his problems.  Rouse was born in London April 6th 1894, but his parents split up in 1900, leaving Rouse and two other siblings to be raised a relative on his father`s side of the family.  He developed a talent for music at school and after leaving school, started to learn carpentry.  His first actual employment was with an Estate Agent, then moving on to a furniture manufacturer in the West End of London.

    War broke out in Europe, so Rouse enlisted on August 8th 1914 and was drafted into the 24th London Regiment.  Before embarking for France, he married Lily Watkins on November 29th at St. Saviours Church in St Albans.  During battle, an explosion gave Rouse head and leg injuries, severe enough for him to be shipped home to convalesce.  He was officially discharged due to his wounds on February 11th 1916, and given a medical pension.  However, after a couple of years, this pension was decreased as it was viewed that his wounds had improved considerably.  In September 1920, he received his final payment was now declared fit for work.

    He found work as a salesmen, taking him to many different towns and cities.  His sales talk enabled him to sweet talk various women and he even had children by a couple of them.  He had no intention of marrying any of them.  He also earned enough to buy himself a 1928 Morris Minor for travelling around.  It was on November 5th 1930, that he put his plan to die and disappear into action.  two men walking from Northampton to their nearby village of Hardingstone, saw a fire start.  A man walked past them saying somebody was lighting a bonfire.  The two men decided to take a look and come upon a burning car.  They thought they could see a body inside and so alerted authorities.  After the blaze was put out, it was seen that it was indeed a body, and luck had it, the number plate of the vehicle was not destroyed.  This led Police to Rouse and he was arrested.

    Rouse said that he offered a lift to a stranger in Leicester, and soon he pulled off the road, telling the man that he needed to shit.  Whilst in the bushes, he claimed he saw the man light a match, then a flash went off, engulfing the vehicle in flames.  Opinion soon turned when Rouse told a reporter of his "harem" of women all over, and that the deceased man "would not be missed!"  An expert on cars discovered that a nut & screw in the engine had been twisted, thereby allowing petrol to escape into and around the car.  This was the crucial evidence that convicted Rouse.  The report of the post mortem was presented by Prof. Bernard Spilsbury.  The Prosecutor in this case was legendary QC Sir Norman Birkett, with Donald Finnemore leading for the defence.

    Rouse was convicted of murder and executed March 10th 1931 at Bedford Gaol.  The identity of the victim may now become known, as a family say that a member went missing suddenly in 1930.  This man was called William Briggs, and in May 2012, they asked for a famile DNA check to discover if the mystery man was indeed their relative.  As of yet, no word.