Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Amelia Peplow & The Murder That Never Was

This was a strange case that I heard about years ago but was unable to find any details about it, until now.  It shows perfectly but tragically just loneliness and feelings of complete isolation can do to the mind of an individual.  This tale began on April 28th 1960, in the Birmingham suburb of Kingstanding.  George Marshall came upon the body of a young woman on  waste ground known locally as Ryan`s Field, early in the morning.  A scarf was wound around the victim's` neck.   George Marshall immediately summoned Police and they soon formed the opinion that it was murder, with a possible sexual motive.  There were no signs of a struggle or sexual assault, but logically, the strangling with one of her own stockings, could have been the result of promised sex but then refused, and the frustrated man simply exploded with fury.  The area was thoroughly searched by Police who even used sniffer dogs, in the hope of finding a scent.  A description of the victim and her clothing were distributed throughout the area.  Robbery was discounted as there was money in her purse, untouched.  Bus tickets were found, so checks on buses in the immediate area produced sightings of her travelling from Sutton Coldfield to West Bromwich.  

    Then she was identified as 16 year old Amelia Elizabeth Peplow, who lived in West Bromwich.  Her father had died two years before, which devastated her, and so the only people she had contact with, were her mother and grandmother.  People said that she spoke of a boyfriend, yet most did not believe she had one.  There were stories about a proposed marriage.  Some said that she was basically, a loner, who spent most of her time reading and listening to music.  She had been working as a shop assistant locally.  Police now started intensive questioning of a local man named Colin, who it was said, was pursued by Amelia but he was not interested.  A puzzle was the bus journeys that Amelia took, as she did not know anybody in the areas the buses went.  Now an inquest was held on the death of Amelia Peplow.  Her doctor told the court that Amelia was a withdrawn girl, sought attention from somebody & was possibly a little subnormal.  A Home Office Pathologist, Dr Griffiths, came to the conclusion that Amelia strangled herself with the stocking.  An uncommon method but not impossible.  Dr Keith Simpson came across at least six examples during his long career as a Pathologist.  It was thought she did this, to get Colin to show interest in her and he comes to save her.  But it was not to be.  The Jury returned a verdict of "Suicide whilst the balance of her mind was disturbed".

    A view frequently aired about relationships is that there is always somebody out there if you can find them.  Exactly.  If you can find them.  Amelia was far too shy to approach boys, she had no social skills in interacting with others.  A story was that her mother did not want her.  No wonder then that the death of her father hit her very hard.  How can you communicate with an adult that is cold to you?  You shut yourself off.  The only way to deal with the isolation is to create a make believe world.  But that can take over and blur the lines between fantasy and reality.  Mud had a massive hit in 1974 with "Lonely This Christmas" and the impact of the song only hit singer Les Gray, much later.  As he said, "There`s a lot of lonely people in this world."  Amelia Peplow was one.