Friday, 18 July 2014

The Murder of Olive Bennett

The murder of Olive Bennett goes back to 1954, but remains one of the many unsolved crimes that unfortunately are beyond justice.  This murder goes back 60 years, and so the chances of the killer still being around are very slim.  It is though, a good exercise for the amateur and armchair sleuths to try and get their head around.  The facts of the case are these.  Olive May Gardener Bennett, a 46 year old Scots midwife, worked in the Stratford-upon-Avon district, and for some unknown reason, had a complete turnaround in her private and social life.  She had taken to smoking and drinking, smartening herself up and going out and meeting men, but she had led a very sheltered life until then.  It was on Saturday April 24th 1954, that she had gone out and was having a drink in a Stratford-upon-Avon pub, The Red Horse Hotel, which was located in Bridge Street.  Later, she was seen outside the pub, after midnight.

    But tragedy struck when her body was found on the banks of the River Avon, early on Sunday morning.  Olive had been strangled with a scarf and was weighted under a heavy tombstone that had been taken from Holy Trinity Churchyard which was close by.  Her bottom dentures, her spectacles and a solitary shoe were discovered strewn around the churchyard.  Her hat was discovered on a towpath that was referred to locally as "Lovers Lane" which was close to the Memorial Theatre.  The local Police made no headway with their enquiry and so called in Scotland Yard, and one of it`s star detectives, Chief Superintendent John Capstick.  But Capstick himself could not make any progress and so it remained open.  Until 1962, when inexplicably, two women told Police that the night Olive was murdered, they were in that churchyard with two men.  They said that one of them had threatened to throw them both into the River Avon, with weights attached to them.  After 8 years, the Police would have had extreme difficulty in locating them, which was indeed the case.  But why did they wait 8 years before saying anything?  With the circumstances of Olive`s murder matching the threats of this man, then surely they could add two & two and get four?  It would be so obvious that these men must have been the murderers of Olive Bennett, and so it would have been paramount that these two were taken off the streets.

    About six months later, there was a possible link to another murder but this proved to be false.  Then in 1984, fresh interest in the case arose when Police in Vancouver contacted Scotland Yard, when a former serviceman was questioned over a motoring offence and just started talking about an old murder in Stratford-upon-Avon.  But what happened beyond this is unknown.