Unsolved Murders

Hubert George Chevis

Age: 28

Sex: male

Date: 21 Jun 1931

Place: Blackdown Camp, Aldershot, Hampshire

Hubert George Chevis was poisoned after eating partridge laced with strychnine in his quarters near Blackdown Camp.

He was a Lieutenant in the Royal Artillery at Blackdown Camp in Aldershot. He had been married for about six months.

The partridge was a Manchurian partridge and was one of a brace of birds that had been supplied by a poulterer in Aldershot. The birds were all cooked together and basted in the same fat.

He and his wife ate some of the partridge. His wife, who only ate a small part, recovered but Hubert Chevis died. Hubert Chevis had been the first to take a bite but found that it tasted horrible and refused to eat anymore. He asked his wife to taste some and she merely touched it with her tongue and agreed that it tasted fusty.

Hubert Chevis called his batman to take the birds away and have them destroyed as he didn't want his dogs getting hold of them. However, 15 minutes later he became ill, lost control of his legs and started having convulsions. He and his wife were then taken to hospital where he died.

The partridge was destroyed but the gravy that the partridges had been cooked in was sent off for analysis and a report made up stating that they contained about two grains of strychnine. Hubert Chevis's stomach contents were also sent off for analysis and were found to contain a large amount of strychnine.

Three days after Hubert Chevis's death, Hubert Chevis's father received a telegram at his home in Boscombe, Hampshire, from Dublin that read, 'Hooray, hooray, hooray'. It was sent at 4.36pm on 24 June 1931 which was the day before the news of Hubert Chevis's death was released. The back of the telegram was signed J Hartigan. Underneath the name was the word Hibernian.

Postal officers said that the sender of the telegram was about 50 years of age, small, and dressed in grey.

It was thought that the poisoned partridge might have been sent by some Indians in vengeance. Hubert Chevis had served in India and his father had been a former Indian judge.

It was also thought that the partridge's might have themselves eaten the strychnine in the form of berries and died but the fact that the Hooray telegram was sent the day before the news of Hubert Chevis's death was made public indicated that it was deliberate. The partridges were Manchurian and experts were called to give evidence of how poisoned berries were often used there to kill birds.

The birds had been delivered in the morning and had been placed by the cook in an open meat safe outside the bungalow where they could easily have been injected with a strychnine solution before they were put in the oven.

The batman said that he took the two partridges into the dining-room of the bungalow and placed them on the side board and left the room. He said that five minutes later Hubert Chevis rang for him and told him that the partridges had a disgusting taste and told him to burn them. He said then that a few minutes later Hubert Chevis became seriously ill and was in dreadful agony.

The police carried out investigations and link the sender of the telegram in Dublin with the description of a man that had purchased strychnine on the outskirts of Dublin several weeks before. The man that had sent the telegram was asked to give his name and address when sending it but the name and hotel address he gave were false. The name he had used to sign the poison book was also false.

The handwriting on the telegram order was considered to be a vital clue and the police later released a photographic facsimile in the hope that someone would recognise it.

It was later thought that J Hartigan was in England. It was said that the police thought that the sender of the telegram had arrived in Dublin on the morning that the telegram was sent and stayed for about a fortnight in Co. Wicklow. The police were reported as saying that they had identified the handwriting found on the signature of the Hooray telegram with that of a passenger list of a cross-channel steamer and that it also corresponded with the signature found in a register of poisons at a chemists’ in County Dublin.

It was also reported that the police had photographs of J Hartigan although it was also reported that the police officials in Dublin were refusing to make any comment on that.

The police also carried out experiments in cookery to see if they could determine anything.

A postcard was later sent that read, 'It is a mystery they will never solve. J Hartigan. Hooray'.

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

see en.wikipedia.org

see Dundee Evening Telegraph - Saturday 12 September 1931

see Nottingham Evening Post - Wednesday 05 August 1931

see Nottingham Evening Post - Thursday 06 August 1931

see Nottingham Evening Post - Monday 27 July 1931

see Lincolnshire Echo - Monday 27 July 1931

see Shields Daily News - Thursday 30 July 1931

see Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer - Friday 07 August 1931

see Dundee Evening Telegraph - Thursday 30 July 1931

see Western Gazette - Friday 31 July 1931

see A Companion To Murder, E Spencer Shrew, p44-45