Saturday, 31 October 2015

The Three Day Week Murder

Way back in the glorious days of the early seventies when we had a three day week, power cuts, shortages, and all manner of things industrial heading down the pan, was the backdrop to a savage murder.  Kay O`Connor, a 37 year old typist, had done a deed for her mother on March 1st 1974.  She had collected her pension for her from the local post office in Colchester, but decided to first, go back to her own home, just a couple of doors away.  Like many others, she was working a short week due to a shortage of orders at the clothing factory she worked at.

    It was just after 4pm that a neighbour made an horrific discovery.  Mrs O`Connor was lying in a pool of blood.    A bloody knife was lying near her body, and it was determined that she had sustained a brutal assault, in which she had been stabbed, punched, kicked and strangled.  Enquiries brought a description of a man seen near her home, but the assailant has never been caught.  It was believed that he watched Mrs O`Connor draw the pension, followed her home and then gained entry to her home, and attacked her.  Was it a robbery gone wrong?  If so, then why the overkill of violence?  These days, it would be automatically assumed the assailant would be a junkie desperate for a fix.  But could it have been the same back then?  After all, there were enough junkies about, but it was never broadcast loudly like it is now.  More than forty years on, the families need answers, and if anybody knows something, then please call the Police.  And help put a killer away.

Friday, 30 October 2015

The Murder of Winnie Evans

Returning to the murder file, this is a case from 1944 and the murder of 27 year old Winifred Mary Evans, a member of the W.A.A.F.  She had been found battered and raped , on November 9th 1944, though the actual cause of death was Asphyxiation.  Her killer had held her face down in mud in a ditch, causing her to suffocate.  Police were called to the ditch in Ellough, which was near Beccles, in Suffolk.  She had been to a dance with another WAAF, Corporal Margaret Johns.  They left the dance, and walked back to the billet.  Winnie went off to report for duty at the Signal Office, whilst Margaret visited the ladies toilet.  She had a shock to see a drunk airman in there.  He claimed he was lost and was this Camp Number One?  Corporal Johns took him outside and pointed him in the proper direction of Camp One.

    This gave Police their first break and started questioning people in that camp.  They learned that one man came in the camp around 1.00am and later was seen cleaning his uniform.  His name was Arthur Heys, a 37 year old airman.  Under questioning, he admitted that he was found in the toilets by Margaret Johns and told where his billet actually was.  It took him in the direction of where Winnie Evans had gone.  He insisted he had not attacked her, but had a huge problem.  It took him nearly an hour to get from the toilets to his billet.  His uniform was taken for forensic examination, and despite the cleaning, brick dust and dirt from the ditch was found on it.  There were also hairs.  They corresponded to hair from Winnie Evans.  But to dispel any claims of tunnel vision, scientists took hair from Heys` wife, which was also a match.  Nevertheless, Heys was charged with murder.

    The trial was set for Bury St. Edmunds on January 22nd 1945, in front of Justice MacNaughten, but prior to the trial, a letter was received by Heys`commanding officer.  It was allegedly from the real killer, saying that Heys was innocent, and gave details of the crime that pointed to the letter being genuine.  The lost and drunk airman had been wrongly charged.  This proved to Police that it had been written by none other than Arthur Heys.  The only people that had known Heys had been "drunk and lost" were the Police, Margaret Johns and........ Arthur Heys.  He was convicted of murder, sentenced to death and hanged at Norwich Prison on March13th 1945.

"....... therefore I am nothing"

Sorry for being offline again, but my first post back is a summarisation of something that has burned at me for some years.  I once tried to ghost a book about somebody but later made numerous discoveries in regards to my subject.  I later put on an old blog that a number of his stories were total bollocks - I admit I made many mistakes but I was a complete novice at this game.  I rebutted a number of his tales with facts I uncovered, but some crying fucker corresponded back that I was nothing whilst his hero was something special.  He certainly said nothing about what I wrote - no surprises there. I am nothing?  Ok then.

    I am not a criminal, therefore I am nothing.  I am not a jailbird, therefore I am nothing.  I have no criminal record, therefore I am nothing.  I am not an out and out liar, bullshit merchant and fantasist, therefore I am nothing.  I do not alter military history in order to put myself in combat zones that I was never involved in, therefore I am nothing.   I do not immerse myself into other people's`s stories, therefore I am nothing.  I do not proclaim myself to be a "legend" therefore I am nothing.  I do not claim to have been involved in armed robberies, shootings and other assorted bouts of mayhem but refuse to backup my claims, therefore I am nothing.  I do not throw screaming fits when somebody has the audacity to ask "who are you?" therefore I am nothing.  Many people rely on me in my job, and repay me with small tokens of appreciation, especially at christmas, therefore I am nothing.  My apologies for this small rant but it has bugged me for a long time and I always wanted to get it off my chest.

Monday, 12 October 2015

Massacre at Wolf Farm

When you look at the criminal history in the USA, mass murderers were usually dispatched by the gallows or the chair.  Yet, incredibly, on April 22nd 1920, in North Dakota, Henry Layer went on a killing rampage, slaughtering eight people, for what would have been a ridiculous reason.  He was sentenced to life imprisonment.  He was extremely upset with Jacob Wolf, because Wolf`s dog had bitten one of his cows!  He confronted Jacob Wolf but Wolf held his shotgun to him and told Layer to leave his property.  Layer grabbed at the gun and in the struggle, it fired twice, killing two people stood close by;  Mrs Wolf and a young neighbour, Jacob Hofer, aged 13.  Wolf ran but Layer went into their house and discovered more shells.  He found Jacob Wolf and shot him dead.

    Now Layer was in a kill mode.  He searched the barn and house and killed five more people.  The Wolf children, whose ages ran from 13 down to 3.  There was a baby aged 8 months but she was found alive.  The slaughter was discovered two days later by a neighbour, John Kraft.  He called the Police, but they were perplexed by just who could have carried out such a murderous attack.  He hung around the farm whilst the local Sheriff was investigating, then brought great suspicion, then arrest, upon himself at the funeral.  It was attended by more than two thousand people, but Layer insisted on opening all the coffins, and gazing at the bodies.  On May 11th, he confessed to all the murders, saying he used the shotgun and a hatchet.  He received a life sentence, and died in prison five years later, in 1925.

Friday, 9 October 2015

Recollections of Miss Molly

Miss Molly was the name given to the assistant to legendary pathologist Professor Keith Simpson, simply because many could not pronounce her surname: Lefebure.  Miss Molly started working for Dr Simpson in 1941, and kept meticulous records of all the work undertaken.  This is one of the early cases she recalled.  It was the brutal robbery murder of 71 year old Leonard Moules, who was attacked in his shop in Hackney Road, Shoreditch, on 30th April 1942.  He died from his injuries nine days later.  The man leading the hunt for his killer(s) was legendary detective, Superintendent Ted Greeno.  Mr Moules had been severely beaten over the head.  The intruders had also killed his dog, presumably to silence it.  

    Greeno had two clues going for him.  There was a palm print on the safe in the shop, plus a tale told by a soldier.  He had been in a cafe and seen two young men talking, then one brandished a gun.  He gave Greeno good descriptions, and also heard names: Sam & George.  Soon Greeno had arrested and charged two young men with murder.  They were 23 year old Sam Dashwood & 22 year old George Silverosa.  When questioned, they put the blame on each other.  Dashwood was known to have a gun, so it was believed he battered Mr Moules with the gun.  Silverosa had left the print on the safe.  They went on trial at the Old Bailey on July 17th 1942.  They were defended by the well known Barrister Serjeant Sullivan, and a Mr Fordham.  But they threw the trial into a spin by dismissing their counsel and defending themselves.  Needless to say, it only made things worse for them.  Dashwood tried to have the guilty verdict overturned at appeal by saying he was obviously of unstable mind, but the Appeal Judges said that this would set a dangerous precedent, with other accused using the same tactics to claim they were insane.  The appeal was dismissed.

    They were executed at Pentonville Prison on September 10th 1942 by Albert Pierrepoint, assisted by Steve Wade, Herbert Morris & Harry Kirk.  Miss Molly is not very complimentary about these two killers, citing criminality stretching back to their early teens, various unsuccessful attempts at "reforming" them.  Cosy chats with psychologists, many reports for magistrates, all to no avail.  And with a caveman mentality, that led to a brutal murder.  These days, it is even worse.

Wednesday, 7 October 2015

Possession - Then Death Follows.

It never ceases to astonish me just how jealousy and total possession can drive somebody to kill, simply for the sake of controlling a partner.  I have witnessed some acts of violence and aggression out delivering the mail.  One lad was arguing with his girlfriend, and he butted her!  Further up the road, she had her arm around him!  Then one lad, yesterday, was kicking and throwing some punches at this girl, yet seconds later, she was kissing him!  It seems that some women enjoy being punch bags, but there are those who are too afraid to say "no more. I am not putting up with this anymore!"  There is no doubt how the man will react to this betrayal.  Threats and violence.  A female has dared to stand up to a male.  He is going to lose the person he controls.   Is there another girl willing to put up with his aggression?  It is not about love.  It is about total control.  He wants to demonstrate to his friends how she does what he tells her.  She is his possession.  On the other hand, there was a woman who worked as a model and her boyfriend was very possessive and jealous.  But my oh my, she discovered that her jealous and very possessive man was in fact, screwing her best friend!  She upped and went.  I must admit I found it amusing as she tended to look down her nose....

    Why have I started off with this?  Jealousy and possessiveness abound in murder cases for centuries and the old green-eyed monster has a lot to answer for.  The case of Jeremy Akers, from Mississippi, springs to mind.  Akers came from an ordinary working class family, but he had a problem about his size.  So he pushed himself as hard as he could to achieve the best of everything.  But he went at it too hard.  To be the best came before anything else.  He was labelled an overachiever.  He obtained the highest grades, became a bodybuilder - what is the point of "being the best" but not having the body to go with it?  He was a fanatical competitor at everything. (Think of Monica in "Friends")  Akers was able to graduate from Law School and then join the military, doing tours of duty in Vietnam.  When he left the military, he married, but the in-laws hated him because of his attitude and abruptness and behaviour.  He became a very domineering, jealous and possessive man.  His over the top masculinity became a joke.  Somewhere along the line, matters were going to deteriorate.

    His wife had given birth to their third child but suffered from depression and gained weight.  Like a caring man, Akers constantly criticised her over her weight gain, so she did all she could to get it back to her usual level.  This included cosmetic surgery.  But she still was unhappy.  But something came over the hill that brightened her day.  A truck driver she befriended.  Akers thought there was more to their friendship than a love of writing.  Soon, she filed for divorce, left Akers, and lived with the truck driver.  Akers said he would kill her rather than have a divorce.  This turned into reality, when he persuaded her to return to the family home to discuss what to sort out in the divorce settlement.  Once there, Akers shot her to death, then later, shot himself dead.  Was he delusional?  No chance!  He persuaded her to return home, showing clear thinking and the murder was planned.  A rational decision to kill.  Any sympathy?  For her, not him.


Monday, 5 October 2015

Tommy Ball - Death of a Footballer

There have been few footballers killed or that have killed but one player was said to have had the abilities to have become a star player of the period.  He was Tommy Ball aged 23, and a lad from County Durham who was on the books of Aston Villa.  He was coming into his own as a player when he took over the defensive role of Frank Barson, whom Villa had sold to Manchester United.  Villa were one of THE top clubs, with six championships and six FA cups to their name by 1923.  But the troubles began for Ball and his wife Beatrice, when they rented a cottage from a former soldier and Policeman, George Stagg.  The Balls lived next door to Stagg in Brick Kiln Lane, perry Barr, just on the edge of Birmingham.  Ball had two problems with Stagg.  Stagg hated his dog and that he kept chickens.  They had a nasty habit of wandering onto his property, but it seemed that it never occurred that it needed a fence to keep them on one side.  The problems seemed that as a landlord, Stagg was a difficult man to please and Ball, as a tenant, seemed a little thoughtless.

    It was August 1923 that the Balls were given a notice to quit by Stagg, but this was not enforced.  The Balls were still there three months later, and still paying Stagg rent. November 11th saw tensions ease. Stagg was to claim later in court that they were on good terms but this was firmly denied by Mrs Ball.  Mr & Mrs Ball had a couple of drinks in the Church Tavern, then went home.  But when they reached their home, Mrs Ball went in to make some supper and Tommy Ball went out with the dog.  An argument outside ensued with Stagg, then a shot rang out.  Tommy Ball had died from shock and haemorrhage.  He was buried on November 19th 1923 in St Johns Churchyard.  George Stagg went on trial at Staffordshire Assizes on february 19th 1924.  Stagg claimed that Ball was drunk and had threatened him with violence, and that he had also threatened his wife.  The claim of drunkenness was disputed by Mrs Ball, the landlord of the Church Tavern and a bus conductor.  Stagg also claimed that Ball inflicted domestic violence on his own wife.  He said that Mrs Ball had told him that Ball kicked her about.  She said that Stagg`s story about her saying that the shooting was an accident, was untrue.  Stagg claimed to have fired a shot to frighten Ball away, reloaded the gun, a single shot sporting gun, then a struggle began with Ball, then the gun accidentally went off.  Mrs Ball said that this was untrue.  He shot her husband with the first shot, reloaded the gun, then took a shot at her, missing her.

    The Jury convicted Stagg of murder, rejecting manslaughter.  They gave a strong recommendation of mercy.  This is passed on to the Home Secretary when reviewing the case as to a reprieve.  Stagg was reprieved and sentenced to life.  Three years later, he was transferred to Broadmoor, having been declared insane.  Stagg died in 1966 in a mental hospital in the Midlands.  Cynics would say that the only reason Stagg was reprieved was that he used to be a Policeman.  The Home Secretary at the time, Arthur Henderson, was thought to be a hanging abolitionist.  He had reprieved two double killers, then Stagg, but he refused reprieves for the next half dozen killers.  He had a change of heart about abolition.

Friday, 2 October 2015

Glasgow Double Murder

A senseless shooting spree occurred at a remote Glasgow railway station in December 1945 that left two dead and one slightly wounded.  Events began on December 10th at Pollockshields East station, on a fog bound early morning when a man rattled the locked door of the waiting room.  Staff opened it assuming it was a passenger wanting to wait inside.  But to the horror of the three staff inside, the man was holding a gun.  Booking clerk, Anne Withers, 36, screamed in fear.  Suddenly, the intruder opened fire repeatedly.  Anne withers collapsed, 15 year old porter, robert gough fell to the floor and William Wright, a 42 year old Porter and clerk, fell on top of them.  They heard the gunman searching through drawers and a safe.  He then ran out.  Bill wright was slightly wounded and ran to the signal box to call the Police.  Anne Withers lay groaning from two bullet wounds, young Robert Gough had staggered out of the waiting room then collapsed. 

    A train pulled in but had to carry on, so the three waited for the Police and an ambulance to arrive.  Police poured into the station, but Anne Withers died on the way to hospital.  Robert Gough died two days later, but not before giving Police a description and his recollections of events.  His story matched Bill Wright`s.  Fingerprints were found on the safe but there were no matching prints on file.  The amount stolen was the equivalent of a week`s wages.  A huge manhunt ensued but despite a substantial reward offer, nothing surfaced.  Until February 1946.  A man talking to a friend asked if he would like to earn the reward money.  The friend asked him how.  The man replied that if he said he was the double killer, what would he say?  The friend, and others were well used to exaggerated and tall stories that railway fireman Charles Templeman Brown always told.  The friend gave this no further thought.

    Police doggedly kept up the hunt and it was October 1946 that a tip said that somebody in the south of Glasgow possessed a Luger, the gun said by forensics to be the murder weapon.  Soon, the Police visited the home of a Mrs Brown, and asked if Charles Brown was at home.  She told them he was working away.  They requested she tell him to contact them as soon as possible, but would not give her any details.  But the following day, October 9th, Brown spoke to a Constable on traffic duty to tell him he was the killer being sought.  Constable John Byrne immediately took him to a Police Box, searched him and found something bulky.  Brown reached into his pocket and handed the officer a Luger and ammunition.  Brown`s fingerprints matched those on the safe.  Bill Wright immediately identified Brown from an ID parade.  He was sent for trial on December 10th, exactly a year to the day of the murders.

    Brown was described as having a compulsion to talk or brag about anything, according to friends, in evidence.  It was thought that as his friends did not believe anything he said, then the Police would listen.  But in describing the shooting, he claimed that Robert Gough had thrown himself at him, causing him to fire.  However, the young man`s dying declaration was read out to the court, saying he threw himself in front of Anne Withers to protect her, then the gunman opened fire.  Various medical opinions were given about Brown`s mental state.  Incipient Dementia Praecox, medically but not legally insane, a borderline case, and a third was that he needed to be kept under observation.  One friend told of Brown`s obsessions about Communism, the band leader Joe Loss, and an American Crooner named Frank Sinatra.  The Judge asked if this Sinatra was notorious or known for outlandish dress.  Yes, was the reply, he always wore dicky bows and camel hair coats.  (an obvious evil influence on the young of Britain!!!!!!)

    Brown was convicted of murder and sentenced to death with his execution set for January 3rd 1947, but within days, he was reprieved and given life.  But as was the norm, Brown served just ten years for a cold blooded bloodbath.  But Brown slipped into complete obscurity until a few years after his release.  He had a serious car crash near Dunblane in 1960 critically injuring his female passenger, but dying himself.  The date:  December 10th.  God working in mysterious ways?

Thursday, 1 October 2015

The Halifax Gibbett

Learning the sort of history that you will never be taught at school can be very eye opening.  Various forms of execution have always been carried out but the most common form was hanging.  The French had a decapitation device devised by Joseph-Ignace Guillotine, which carried his name.  But remarkably, it was nothing new.  Naples in 1266 saw the execution of Conrad of Swabia, allegedly by decapitation.  Germany certainly had some kind of device because five men lost their heads in Zittau in 1300.  Incredibly, there are reports that a decapitation device was used in Ireland in 1307.  Yet there are claims of a chopping device used in England 1000 years ago, in an area of West Yorkshire; Halifax.  But Halifax certainly did have something in operation for hundreds of years; The Halifax Gibbett.  It was known to have been used as a form of execution during the 50 year reign of Edward 111 -1327 - 1377.  But an execution was witnessed in Halifax in 1565 by the Regent of Scotland, the Earl of Morton.  He was sufficiently impressed to go back to Scotland and make a version of it himself.  It was known as "The Maiden" but it is not known exactly how many Scots people were executed by it.  But it is known who the last person was.  None other than the Earl of Morton himself.  His crime was high treason.  He went to his own apparatus on June 2nd 1581.  Resonates with Charles Justice going to an electric chair he helped improve.

    The sentence of death was usually carried out within a week of conviction, on the town market days.  This area of Yorkshire was heavily involved in the manufacture of cloth so stealing cloth was a capital crime.  Amongst many others.  So what was this contraption?  It had a large square base of stone, with steps on one side, which the condemned walked up.  The uprights stretched for 18 feet, a 4 feet cross beam secured the sides, and had grooves in the uprights for the blade to move up and down.  The blade was 18 inches long and 12 inches wide.  A rope was used to pull the blade up, usually pulled by a horse, pegged in place, then released upon a signal from either a bailiff or a member of the jury that convicted him/her.  Between 1541 and 1650, a number of 49 people were executed.  More than six condemned were women.  The last victims of the Gibbett were Tony Mitchell & John Wilkinson, executed in 1650 for stealing horses and cloth.

    After this period, it was forgotten about.  The blade was put into storage and kept there for well over 300 years, before being put into a museum.  The base was actually uncovered by workmen, still intact.  The huge stone base and the steps.  There is a model of the Gibbett on display in the Bankfield Museum.  The base is on Gibbett Street - the street where one Emily Pye was murdered in her shop.

Ted Bundy - An Opinion

There has been so much written and broadcasted about one Theodore Robert Bundy - born Cowell - and many have come up with different explanations for his subsequent rampage.   One consistent theory is that when he found out he was illegitimate, this changed his mindset.  Many children are born out of wedlock, and how many of them turn into monsters?  To me, it is how you deal with it.  When a small child, whilst an aunt slept, Bundy place knives all around her with the points sticking at her.  Warning sign?  He became a peeping tom.  Author, the late Ann Rule, believed Bundy committed his first murder in 1961 at the age of 15.  A child of around eight years of age.  The general consensus is that his victims starting in 1974, were his revenge against Stephanie Brooks, the woman who rejected him.  Yes, there were many similarities; long hair parted in the middle, young and attractive.  Young women started disappearing, including a girl of 4.  Were these early victims of Bundy?

    Yet Bundy was a trailblazer.  He was the personification of "How can this young, good looking, intelligent man, be this monster?"  It is like a man on trial for rape and his lawyer tells the jury, "Does this man need to rape?"  Yes, he does, if a woman has the audacity to reject him!  And proof of this was the amount of women who flocked to his trial.  But one fact was not revealed for a very long time.  He had decapitated the heads off five women and kept them.  When they were found, they were all decaying at the same time, indicating he had kept them refrigerated or frozen.  He went back to his victims, redoing their hair and make-up, having sex with some of their bodies.  Look at his attacks on the campuses.  Revenge on Stephanie Brooks or just pure evil?  He used his time working in politics, law school, and for the Samaritans, to lie, manipulate and deceive people.

    In the final interview he gave before his execution, it was to Dr James Dobson, a preacher or evangelist.   Naturally, he told Dobson what he wanted to hear.  It was totally different to what he said to BAU man Bill Hagmeier.  He admitted that he was completely responsible, planned the murders, selected his victims and then killed them.  To Detective Robert Keppel, he talked in graphic details of other murders that sickened Mr Keppel, who simply got up and walked away, not having any more to do with him.  He blamed it all on pornography, starting with magazines in stores and progressing to harder stuff.  Author Stephen Michaud, who grew up in the same town as Bundy, around the same time, totally disputes Bundy`s claim of soft core magazines in the shops.  He says that they were not around, and Playboy had only just started being sold.  But dear old Teddy did drop a clue, completely ignored by the anti-porn crusaders.  He avidly read detective magazines.  These had covers featuring women in peril, bound and gagged, knives held at their throats, blouses open showing some cleavage.  The mental images would be stronger than a simple picture of a woman with her tits out.  Of course, now with the internet, there is no comparison or limits. And porn does convey a false message about women.

    But at least on January 24th 1989, Starke Prison ended his reign of murder and manipulation.  Robert Ressler stated that Bundy was the only killer that scared him.  But let us not forget the women he slaughtered. Lynda Healy, Donna Manson, Susan Rancourt, Roberta Parks, Brenda Ball, Georgann Hawkins, Denise Naslund, Janice Ott, Caryn Campbell, Laura Aimee, Debra Kent, Melissa Smith, Lisa Levy, Margaret Bowman, Kimberley Leach, et al.