Unsolved Murders

Teresa Lubienska

Age: 73

Sex: female

Date: 24 May 1957

Place: Gloucester Road Underground Station, London

Teresa Lubienska was stabbed five times at Gloucester Road Underground Station on the night of Friday 24 May 1957 shortly after having got off the 10.19pm train.

She was stabbed on the platform as she was getting off a train at about 10.20pm whilst the station was thronged with people returning from the West End and afterwards taken to St Mary Abbott's Hospital where she later died.

The pathologist that carried out her post mortem said that she had five stab wounds, three on the left side of her chest at the front, one on the back of her chest at the back and another in her abdomen.

When she died she still had her Underground ticket in her lap and had been holding her handbag which did not appear to have been interfered with.

A policeman that went to the hospital with Teresa Lubienska said that she said to him, 'I was on the platform and I was stabbed'. He said that when she told him that that she had been speaking with difficulty and had sounded as though she had been choking.

A 32-year-old coloured foreman ticket collector said that he had just taken the lift down to the east-bound platform on the Piccadilly Line at about 10.20pm when he had heard Teresa Lubienska shouting, 'Bandit, bandit, I've been knifed'. He said, 'I asked her what she was talking about, then I saw that blood was pouring out from the left side of her chest. By this time she could hardly speak and she could not tell me her name or anything'. In another statement the ticket collector said that Teresa Lubienska had come into the lift saying 'bandits, bandits'. He said, 'Going up in the lift I noticed blood streaming from the chest. I asked her what was wrong and she kept saying 'Bandits', she said nothing else'.

He said that when she had first got into the lift that she had not seemed bad and that when she had got out at the top that she had been able to walk out, but not normally. He noted that about five minutes before he saw Teresa Lubienska that a lot of people had arrived at the station on a west-bound train from Piccadilly Circus, but he said that he hadn't noticed anything strange about any of them.

He noted that whilst he had been going up in the lift with Teresa Lubienska that he had heard footsteps on the spiral staircase leading to the street and added that the only way to the street from the platforms was by the lift or the staircase.

Following her stabbing the police searched the station and tracks for the murder weapon but without luck. The tunnels had also been searched with the aid of pressure lamps as well as the emergency staircases that ran beside the lifts.

Teresa Lubienska had earlier been out to attend a birthday party at a friend's house in Ealing and had been on her way home when she was murdered.

A Roman Catholic priest and Polish assistant at Brompton Oratory said that he had been to a May Day party in Florence Road, Ealing with Teresa Lubienska on Friday 24 May 1957 and that after they had gone to Ealing Common station at about 10.25pm. He said that he was going to Earls Court and that she was going to Gloucester Road on the Piccadilly Line. He said that they had travelled in the middle of the train and that there had been about 12 other people in the carriage, all of whom had been quiet and that when he left her at Earls Court that she was quite normal and that everything was quiet.

During the investigation the police retraced the steps that Teresa Lubienska and the priest had taken from Florence Road, walking from there to Ealing Common station and buying single tickets to Gloucester Road, timing the journey with a stop-watch. They then took seats in the seventh compartment of the train as they had on the night of Friday 24 May 1957 during which the police took notes in a large book whilst the priest talked and gesticulated. Then from Earl's Court they caught another train to Gloucester Road where they stood talking on the platform for five minutes and then went up and down the 26 steps that Teresa Lubienska had staggered up three times before parting.

During the investigation the police appealed for two people, a man and a woman, who had left the lift at the station just before Teresa Lubienska, who had by that time just been stabbed, got in it, with the police saying that they thought that they might have seen someone running from the stairs leading from the lift to the platforms. It was reported on 27 May 1957 that the police had kept watch outside Gloucester Road underground station for the hope that they might be gain spotted at the station. They were seen by the lift operator and it was noted that they had not been travelling together. The police added that they were not suspected but that it was thought that they might have seen something.

The woman was described as:

  • Brunette, hair cut short.
  • Very smart appearance.
  • Estimated to be about 20-years-old.
  • About 5ft tall.
  • Wearing a black coat and red high-heeled shoes and carrying a black handbag.

The man was described as:

  • Aged about 27-years-old.
  • About 5ft 8in tall.
  • Medium build.
  • Clean shaven.
  • Fair hair.
  • He was described as being 'possibly a foreigner'.
  • Dressed in a light brown check suit.

The police also said that they were looking to trace another old woman, described as the 'lady in black' who it was said had spoken to a woman whilst travelling on a No. 49 bus at about 3pm on 20 May 1957 and told the woman next to her that she had seen Teresa Lubienska on the underground station and that she had been advised to speak to the police but had said that she didn't want to get 'mixed up in the affair'. The woman that she had spoken to said that she got off the bus at High Street, Kensington, leaving the 'lady in black' on the bus. The police said that they were hoping that the 'lady in black' might be able to provide substantial help in the investigation, in particular in regards to describing any people that she had seen Teresa Lubienska with.

Teresa Lubienska had lived alone in Cornwall Gardens, Kensington in London having arrived after the war in either 1946 or 1947. It was noted that she had lost her husband in the 1914-1918 war and her son in the 1939-1945 war.

She was described as a tall, white haired woman.

She was a countess and had been the chairman of the London Association of Polish Ex-Political Prisoners in Germany. She had spent the war in a concentration camp and had formed the organisation to help Poles who had suffered camps.

It was said that she had been in Auschwitz concentration camp and had the number 44,747 tattooed on one of her arms and that prior to her capture that she had been a resistance worker.

A previous general secretary of the Federation of Polish Exiles in London said, 'This is is a great shock and loss to the Polish community in London. The Countess was very well known and very well esteemed throughout Poland and by every Pole in this country. In the concentration camp she was tortured and was seriously ill. That she could have had an enemy, especially among Poles, is quite unbelievable. She was a woman of much bravery, very religious and always the champion of the poor'.

The police said that although they thought that her murder was the work of ruffians who she might have reprimanded as she was leaving the train or on the platform, that they could not rule out the possibility that there had been a political motive, adding that it was possible that it could have been someone who had collaborated with the Germans during the war to spy either in prison camps or on underground workers.

It was additionally said that she might have been killed by a collaborator from the camps to keep her from revealing his secret. It was added that she had devoted her time in Britain to seeking redress for those of her countrymen that had suffered in the German concentration camps and that she was in touch with more than 1,000 Poles in Britain and 5,000 more in Europe. It was said that Teresa Lubienska had a remarkable memory for faces and that it could not be ruled out that she had been killed by someone who had feared exposure or had been a member of a fanatical political group.

The three motives for her murder suggested by the police were:

  • She was killed by a German collaborator or someone with a similar connection.
  • She was stabbed whilst someone was trying to rob her and steal her large handbag.
  • She was killed by hooligans after she had reprimanded them.

However, it was noted that detectives were thought to have believed that Teresa Lubienska was murdered by a local youth who had lost his temper after Teresa Lubienska had reprimanded him.

The police said that they believed that there were certain people that had got off the 10.19pm train with Teresa Lubienska that had not come forward, stating that some of them must had seen the murderer and added that by not coming forward that they were shielding the murderer. They added additionally that most of the 17 people that had travelled in the lift at the station at the time of the murder had also not come forward.

As well as general appeals by the police, an appeal was broadcast on the television for information.

It was noted that the station porter said that he recalled seeing a gang of youths 'at horse-play' on the platform shortly before the murder and additionally noted that Teresa Lubienska had strict ideas on behaviour and might well have remonstrated anyone that had offended her.

It was reported that the police had divided their detectives into four squads to deal with the thousands of enquiries that they were making, one of which was a group of Polish experts who were checking on the hundreds of Poles that were listed in notebooks that Teresa Lubienska had kept. The second group was said to have been dealing with the undesirables living in and around the Gloucester Road underground station district. The third group was dealing with reports from around the country on the movements of Poles who were living outside of London whilst the fourth group was dealing with people that were calling at the police station and in dealing with the general inquiries connected with the murder.

On 24 June 1957 it was reported that several people had been to Kensington police station and 'given themselves up' for her murder, but that they had all been cranks or persons intent on securing publicity for themselves. It was noted that whilst skilful questioning by CID men usually revealed the falsity of their 'confessions' before much time had been wasted, they were nether the less causing a great deal of extra and unnecessary work. It was noted that however unlikely their stories and however palpably untrue in some respects, that if there was the possibility of obtaining a grain of real information, that anything remotely resembling a clue had to be followed.

It was additionally noted that whilst the clue of the girl in the red shoes had seemed promising and was investigated by detectives, with two or three girls answering her description being traced, that she was never found. Additionally it was reported that countless local CID men who had been reinforced by detectives from Hammersmith, Notting Hill and other parts of West London had all put in an incredible number of hours to tirelessly sift through masses of information, mis-information, possible clues, false trails and bright red herrings. It was added in the report that it was safe to say that few members of the public had any conception of the amount of work that devolved upon those trying to solve the case, with detectives working 16-hour days, Saturdays and Sundays not excepted, and with only a few hours sleep and food before returning to the station for another gruelling tour of duty.

Teresa Lubienska's inquest, which concluded on Tuesday 20 August 1957 in Hammersmith, returned a verdict of murder by some person or persons unknown. It was noted that during the investigation that the police had spoken to about 18,000 people, with it being noted that many other people were abroad and had yet to be interviewed. The police said, 'The person responsible has not yet been traced. Neither have certain people, whom the police believe know this person, come forward to assist'.

It was reported on Sunday 8 September 1957 that two Italian men and an Italian woman that had been staying bear Gloucester Road tube station at the time of the murder had been questioned over the matter in Genoa as part of the long trail overseas that the police were following.

When her cousin, a builder and decorator that had lived in Kensington Gate gave evidence at the inquest he was asked what Teresa Lubienska would have meant by the term 'bandits' and said that she used to say that word often when she was describing hooligans. He added that she would use the term generally when referring to people that were drinking too much or making a noise.

However, no further progress was made with the investigation into her murder.

File MEPO 2/11013 at the National Archives in Kew, London touches on her murder and is titled 'Correspondence from anonymous and private persons', but has not been looked at.

*map pointers are rough estimates based on known location details as per Place field above.

see www.truecrimelibrary.com

see British Pathe

see National Archives - MEPO 2/11013, HO 332/16 - STA 502/3/33 Ser No: 95 Force: MPD

see "Murder Of Polish Countess." Times [London, England] 27 May 1957: 6. The Times Digital Archive. Web. 29 May 2016.

see "18,000 Interviewed In Murder Hunt." Times [London, England] 20 Aug. 1957: 4. The Times Digital Archive. Web. 29 May 2016.

see Belfast Telegraph - Saturday 25 May 1957

see Sunday Mirror - Sunday 08 September 1957

see Torbay Express and South Devon Echo - Thursday 30 May 1957

see Daily Herald - Wednesday 29 May 1957

see Shields Daily News - Friday 31 May 1957

see Illustrated London News - Saturday 01 June 1957

see Londonderry Sentinel - Tuesday 28 May 1957

see Northern Whig - Tuesday 20 August 1957

see Shields Daily News - Saturday 01 June 1957

see West London Observer - Friday 14 June 1957

see Belfast Telegraph - Monday 27 May 1957

see Northern Whig - Monday 03 June 1957

see West London Observer - Friday 31 May 1957

see Northants Evening Telegraph - Saturday 25 May 1957

see Shields Daily News - Saturday 25 May 1957

see Northern Whig - Monday 27 May 1957

see West London Observer - Friday 23 August 1957