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Murder

Timothy Evans for trial on double murder charge

Dateline: Friday 23 December 1949 – Timothy Evans appears in court charged with the murder of his wife and daughter.

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File It Murder

Dateline: Friday 23 December 1949Timothy Evans appears in court charged with the murder of his wife and daughter.

Timothy John Evans (25), lorry driver, of no fixed address, was at West London Magistrates Court yesterday committed for trial to the Old Bailey charged with the murder of his wife, 20 year old Beryl Susanna Evans and his 14 month old baby daughter, Geraldine, at their home in Rillington Place, Notting Hill, London. On December 2 the bodies of Mrs Evans and the baby were found in an outhouse at their home at Rillington Place.

Detective Constable G.H. Evans of Merthyr Tydfil, said that on November 30 Evans came to his office and said: “I want to give myself up. I have disposed of my wife. I have put her down a drain. I can’t sleep and I want to get it off my chest.” He added: “I am not very well educated and I cannot read or write.”

Chief Inspector Jennings said that in an outhouse at the Evans home at Notting Hill he found beneath a quantity of timber under a sink a large package wrapped in a green table cover and a blanket and tied tightly with cord. He discovered that it contained the body of Mrs Evans doubled over with the head between the feet. There was no wedding ring on her finger.

Behind the door of the outhouse and concealed by timber he found the body of a baby with a man’s necktie tied tightly around the neck.

When told that he was believed to be responsible for causing their deaths, Timothy Evans said – “Yes, she was incurring one debt after another and I could not stand it any longer, so I strangled her with a piece of rope and took her down to the flat below. The same night, while the old man was in hospital, I waited till the Christies downstairs had gone to bed, then took her to the washhouse after midnight. This was on Tuesday November 8.

“On Thursday evening, after I came home from work, I strangled my baby with my tie. Later than night I took her down into the the washhouse after the Christies had gone to bed.”

Inspector Jennings said that after he had signed the statement Timothy Evans said. – “It is a great relief to get it off my chest. I feel better already.”

the facts

When Welshman Timothy Evans was sent to trial in December 1949 and then in January 1950 found guilty of killing his wife and child the chief prosecution witness was John Reginald Christie. At that time he was nothing more than Evans’ neighbour. Evans was executed (by hanging) at Pentonville Prison on 9 March 1950.

Evans was 25, poorly educated and had been married to Beryl since 1947. In April 1948 the couple moved into Rillington Place, taking the top floor flat. What the couple didn’t know was that they were sharing a house with one of the UK’s most notorious serial killers. Christie by this stage had already killed more than once and had two bodies buried in the garden.

When Evans confessed to murder the police had no reason to doubt him, they had the bodies and Timothy and Beryl’s marriage had never been easy. Punctuated by huge rows and severe money troubles. In 1949 when Beryl found herself pregnant with their second child it was decided that they couldn’t afford another child and Beryl should have an abortion. During his initial questioning Evans told police that he had accidentally killed his wife after giving her something that would trigger an abortion. He also claimed to have put Beryl’s body down a manhole. Police quickly discovered this was not the case. Evans then changed his story saying that Christie had offered to perform the illegal abortion on Beryl.

For some reason Beryl agreed to this and when Evans returned home from work on 8 November Christie is alleged to have told him that things had gone wrong and Beryl had died. He also told Evans that he would dispose of her body. He told Evans that he would arrange for baby Geraldine to be adopted out to a childless couple he knew. He persuaded Evans to go home to Wales. It was only at this time that Evans made the confession mentioned in the article above. At his trial Evans said that the confession was false. He was in a state of shock at discovering his daughter was also dead and that he feared the police would harm him if he didn’t confess.

At Evans trial Christie denied any involvement in performing an abortion on Beryl and both he and his wife testified to the many rows between Evans and Beryl. The defence focused on Christie’s involvement and guilt and despite the fact that he had a criminal record for both theft and malicious wounding Christie did not sway the jury in any way. The jury took just forty minutes to find Evans guilty.

Three years later Christie moved out of 10 Rillington Place, when the landlord allowed another tenant ,Beresford Brown, to use the kitchen in Christie’s flat. Brown quickly discovered that the strange smell that permeated the Christie flat was because three bodies were hidden in a pantry that had been wallpapered over. When police began their investigation they also discovered three more bodies. Christie’s wife was buried under floorboard in the Christie’s front room and the two bodies that were buried in the garden. During police questioning Christie admitted several times to killing Beryl (but not baby Geraldine).

Christie was found guilty and excecuted by hanging on 15 July 1953. Albert Pierrepoint, the executioner, had also conducted the execution of Evans.

It’s highly likely that if the police search had been more thorough then the bodies in the garden would have been found and Evans’ story about Christie’s involvement would have been believed. After years of campaigning Evans was granted a royal pardon in 1966. It was the outcry over the Evans case that contributed to capital punishment being abolished in the UK.

Source: The Northern Whig and Belfast Post, Friday December 23, 1949.

History

Phil Spector

Phil Spector was brilliant but also troubled. Very troubled. He will be remembered as one of the greatest producers in rock-and roll history but he will also be remembered as a convicted murderer, who in 2009 was found guilty of the 2003 murder of Hollywood actress Lana Clarkson. Spector died Saturday, January 16, 2021 in prison.

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Phil Spector

Born Harvey Philip Spector in the Bronx, New York , (His father, under severe stress because of the family’s financial condition, committed suicide in 1949. His mother relocated to Los Angeles in 1953.) the young Spector was always a loner, but excelled in music, studying piano, guitar, drums, bass, and French horn in high school, and began writing songs with classmate Marshall Lieb.

Spector was drawn to the LA music scene and began hanging around the studios.

He officially entered the music business in 1958 as the songwriter, guitarist, backup singer, and producer for the group, The Teddy Bears, with “To Know Him Is To Love Him.” The song and title was about his late father. The grave’s inscription-“To Know Him Was To Love Him.” (The group consisted of Spector, Lieb, and another high school friend, Annette Kleinbard.)

The song became a No. 1 smash and the group appeared on several TV shows, including “Bandstand”, but were unable to follow up with another hit.

And there were also royalty problems with the record company. The Teddy Bears soon disbanded, only to resurface as The Spectors Three, but the “new group” was unsuccessful; the trio broke up for good.

Annette Kleinbard became a successful songwriter.(You may know her better by the name Carol Conners). She co-wrote “The Night The Lights Went Out In Georgia” (by Vicki Lawrence in 1973 and then Reba McEntire in 1992), co-wrote “Hey Little Cobra” by The Ripchords and “Gonna Fly Now”, the first Rocky movie theme.

Spector worked for a while with independent producers Lester Sill and Lee Hazelwood who sent Spector back to New York in 1960. In 1961 Spector and Sill formed the New York-based Philles Records, which Spector fully owned by 1962. (“There’s No Other(Like My Baby)” by the Crystals was the first release.)

Spector co-wrote and produced “Spanish Harlem” with Jerry Leiber (of the equally legendary Leiber and Stoller) a Top Ten smash for Ben E. King. He also produced “Only Love Can Break A Heart” and “Every Little Breath I Take” by Gene Pitney, “Pretty Little Angel Eyes”-Curtis Lee, “I Love How You Love Me”-The Paris Sisters, “He’s A Rebel”-The Crystals, and other hits, primarily for them, The Ronettes, Darlene Love, and Bobb B. Soxx and The Blue Jeans.

Spector became renowned for “The Wall Of Sound”, which involved multiple instrumentation, heavy on the orchestration, overdubbing, double drummers or guitar players, and lots of background singers. (Sonny and Cher evolved from this. Sonny Bono was a session man, fledgling producer, and jack-of-all-trades; Cher started by singing background vocals.) Legend has it that Spector’s favorite composer was Richard Wagner. He has often said that his sound is “little symphonies for the kids.”

Spector’s reputation as a so called mad genius was mainly down to his often erratic and tempermental behavior (pulling guns in the studio, stealing master tapes, forcing wife Ronnie to drive around with a life size cut out of himself in the car). But it was always overlooked and validated because of the successful results, which in turn, made millions for himself and other executives, writers, and producers (The singers and groups themselves didn’t fare as well financially).

Spector was aware of the British Invasion before it even hit the U.S., becoming friends with The Rolling Stones. But this didn’t help him to maintain his status quo, for the entire current music industry was rocked upside down.

Many bands were writing their own material and on different issues. “Will Johnny still love me and take me to the prom?”-type songs were becoming outdated.

Nevertheless, he went on to produce “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin,” “Unchained Melody”, and “Ebb Tide” by The Righteous Brothers and the classic “River Deep, Mountain High” by Ike and Tina Turner. “River” went to No. 1 in England and many other countries, but bombed in the U.S.

This failure affected Spector, hurting him deeply. He semi-retired and married (Veronica) Ronnie Bennett, the Ronettes’ lead singer.

He re-emerged in the late ’60s and early ’70s doing post-production work on The Beatles’ “Let It Be” album, and producing George Harrison’s “All Things Must Pass” and John Lennon’s “Plastic Ono Band” albums.

From time to time, he produced Cher, The Ramones, Duran Duran, Dion, and Leonard Cohen (Spector allegedly held a loaded gun to Cohen’s head during the recording of his album The Ladies Man).

He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1989 and did make an important contribution to the music of the 1960’s but it is his often erratic behavior and murder conviction that is his true epitaph.

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Murder

Murder at the Surgery – the brutal death of Dr Michael Parker

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Tuesday 12 March 1963 had been just another day at his St Owen Street, Hereford surgery for respected 41 year old Doctor Michael Wyndham Parker, until just before 7.00pm he was brutally stabbed in the chest and left for dead on the floor of his own surgery.

Parker’s surgery was part of a three man practice and senior partner Dr Herbert Ward-Smith was just seeing off the last of his patients for the day when he heard a loud thud coming from his partners room. The noise was unusual enough for Ward-Smith to investigate – entering Parker’s room he found Parker on the floor. He died from his injuries soon after the stabbing.

At the time of the attack there was no receptionist on duty and people were able to just walk in and wait to be seen. The police immediately began to try and trace the patients Dr Parker had seen that evening. The initial theory was that the killer had waited until the final patient had left before making his attack – but why he had targeted Doctor Parker remained a mystery. There was one vital clue as to who his last patient might have been. A medical card in the name of a man named Robert Perkins.

Parker lived in the suburb of Broomy Hill in Hereford and was married to Noreen. The couple had two daughters Julie (12) and Claire (9). Parker, whose had previously been house physician at Birmingham Children’s Hospital and a captain in the Medical Corp. A friend described him as an “ardent stamp collector and keen gardener” whilst a patient found it hard to believe he had any enemies.”

Within a few hours though the police had detained a man in connection with the murder. 20 year old house painter Robert Barrington Perkins was seen behaving erratically in Tarrington, about ten miles from Hereford. He was spoken to by Inspector E. Cobbe and Special Constable Heath and then taken to Hereford Police Station. At 3.15am, following competition of a post mortem on Dr Parker, Perkins was arrested and charged with murder.

On Thursday, just two days after the murder Perkins appeared at Hereford Magistrates Court and was remanded in custody. On 10 April 1963 Perkins appeared at a trial committal hearing. It was revealed that when stopped by police Perkins said “all right, I killed him.” Prosecuting counsel Mr K.G. Lawrence said that there was no evidence of anything other than a doctor – patient relationship between Perkins and Dr Parker and no motive for the killing. A patient, Dora Handley, saw Perkins enter the waiting room at about 6.30pm and that they could see the point of a knife projecting through his jacket. Perkins waited for his turn to see Dr Parker, a shout or a scream was then heard and Perkins quickly ran out of the building.

Despite admitting to killing Dr Parker, “when I went to see Dr Parker I thought he was giving me something. He just shrugged his shoulders. I killed him,” Perkins pleaded not guilty and was sent for trial.

The trial of Robert Perkins began on 21 May 1963 and was over the same day. The jury found Perkins not guilty of murder but guilty of manslaughter owing to diminished responsibility. His defence counsel A.B. King Hamilton Q.C. said Perkins was a paranoid schizophrenic and was completely unconcerned about what had happened. Judge Mr Justice Vale committed Perkins to Broadmoor under a restraint order with no time limit. He told Perkins “this was a dreadful thing you did, but you were mentally ill at the time. I am satisfied I can deal with the case by making a hospital order.”

Perkins’ mother Peggy told the court that Robert, who was the third of six children, had been sent to “a special school for backward boys” after he left school he became convinced the police were following him everywhere. Prison doctors who had examined Perkins also gave evidence to say that he suffered from a split personality and persecution mania.

There is no information available to indicate how long Perkins served or if he was ever released. If anyone does know anything more please do get in touch.

Sources:
Daily Mirror 13 Mar 1963, 14 Mar 1963, 14 April 1963
Daily Herald 13 Mar 1963, 22 May 1963
Birmingham Evening Post 14 Mar 1963, 22 May 1963
Liverpool Echo 10 April 1963

Featured image via youtube Hereford in the 1950’s and 1960’s.

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Murder

Joseph Christopher Reynolds, Leicester’s last hanged man

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Joseph Christopher Reynolds

On Friday 22 May 1953 in the small Leicestershire village of Blaby three young boys were playing in Blue Banks Wood, a favourite area for the local kids, when they heard a series of piercing screams. Rushing to investigate the trio made a terrible discovery – a man pulling at the head of what they thought was a young woman. They immediately went for help, they found a group of other boys and returned to the spinney. There they found the body of 12 year old red haired Janet Warner.

The police immediately set up a major search for the killer. The boys said the man they saw had a broken nose, unkempt hair and was wearing a boiler suit. A mobile station was set up and a massive search for clues was undertaken in the immediate area.

By all accounts Janet was a popular young girl, a pupil at Wigston Secondary Modern and a keen horse rider. Her father had become concerned about her when the family dog, which had been taken out for a walk by Janet, returned home alone.

Very quickly Detective Superintendent Guy Mahon of Scotland Yard, who was leading the investigation, named Dublin born Joseph Christopher Reynolds, aged 31, as a man they would like to talk to in connection with Janet’s murder. Reynolds had been living in Leicester for several years, lodging in a house in Uppingham Rd.

Janet Warner

12 year old Janet Warner.

Within 24 hours Reynolds had been arrested. He had visited the cinema after killing Janet and then went home to bed. The next day he decided to head to Nottingham but returned to Leicester when he thought the conductress on the bus he was on was looking at him strangely. Spotted by a policeman he tried to make a run for it but was trapped in a cul-de-sac.

On Monday 25 May he appeared in Leicester County Magistrate Court charged with Janet’s murder. Superintendent J.A. Clayton said Reynolds had made a statement which would later be given in evidence. Reynolds remanded in custody.

A quiet funeral was held for Janet on Wednesday 27 May but a crowd of over a hundred people gathered outside court when Reynolds appeared again a few days later. He was once again remanded in custody. He appeared in court again on Monday 22 June 1953. He matter of factly told the court that “the girl was very brave in death. I hope I will be half as brave.”

On Monday 26 October 1963 the trial of Joseph Christopher Reynolds was over in less than five minutes. Reynolds pleaded guilty and when the judge Mr Justice Pilcher, asked if he had any statement to make before a sentence of death was pronounced on him Reynolds said “nothing my lord. I deserve the extreme punishment for my crime. I am heartily sorry for the little girl and the grief I caused her parents.” Reynolds muttered a prayer as the judge had the black cap, signifying the death penalty, placed on his head. His parents told the Daily Mirror that “Joseph was always a strange boy. He hated to mix with other people. His one passion was poetry.”

At the beginning of November the Sunday People published a series of letters that Reynolds wrote to a friend from his prison cell. The People were convinced the letters proved that Reynolds was insane and should not be hanged. Because the letters were written whilst Reynolds was on remand they were not censored and offered an insight into his state of mind at the time. In one he says “I am happy in my dreams, but the reality of life depresses me. I cannot take it.” In another he says “life is only for the strong and the strong live and prey on the weak. That is the true way with nature.”

A Harley Street specialist believed the letters shows Reynolds was schizophrenic. As to insanity though, Reynolds clearly knew the wrong he had done saying “of course I am only a criminal lunatic who has committed a horrible crime.” On 14 November the Home Secretary David Maxwell Fyfe decided there were insufficient grounds to interfere with the death sentence pronounced on Reynolds.

Christopher Reynolds was executed on the morning of Tuesday 17 November 1953, a crowd of 300 people waited outside the prison for the notice of execution to be posted. Before he was hung Reynolds told police that he had felt a compulsion to kill for some ten days or more and had intended to kill a man whom he had seen walking along a canal bridge close to the spinner every day. On that particular day the man, Dennis Goodger, didn’t walk along the bridge as he was now working in a different district. Goodger told the People that he was “the luckiest man in the world today.” He also said that every day when he crossed the bridge a man was hanging around and often asked him the time. “It was always just turned five o’clock” he said. “He used to give me a strange out of this world look and I got more and more suspicious.” As soon as Goodger learned of the murder he went to the police. It was a vital step in identifying Reynolds.

Reynolds became the last man to be executed in the county of Leicestershire.

After the murder the Spinney was cleared of all its undergrowth.

At his trial it was revealed that Reynolds had previously been sentenced to three years in jail for attempted murder. In 1945 he attacked Margaret Reeves who was on holiday in Barry. Reynolds approached her on the beach and holding a knife to her threatened to kill her. She screamed and tried to get away. Reynolds stabbed her twice and punched her in the face before making a run for it.

In late August 1947 Reynolds was one of three men who escaped from prison working party by jumping from a lorry bound for Cardiff prison.

Despite the horrific nature of the case it was overshadowed in the press by the trial of Rillington Place serial killer John Reginald Christie which was taking place at the same time.

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