Unsolved Murders

Betty Alexander

Age: 4

Sex: female

Date: 10 Oct 1952

Place: West Graham Street, Garnethill, Glasgow

Betty Alexander was found dead in a back yard in West Graham Street about 200 yards from her home on Friday 10 October 1952.

She had been missing from her home at 43 Buccleuch Street since Tuesday 7 October 1952, being last seen at about 5.30pm.

Her body was found by a 50-year-old woman cleaner at the sick children’s dispensary at 11 West Graham Street when she went into the back yard to beat some carpets. She said that Betty Alexander's body was propped up against some steps at the foot of the boundary wall. It was said that the yard was part of the out-patients dispensary of the hospital and that the police had to climb a wall in order to reach it. The yard wall was described as being about 7ft high and topped with iron railings and glass to keep anyone from climbing over.

The police said that they thought that Betty Alexander had been carried dead into the yard either over the wall and an outhouse roof, or along a twenty yard passage and over a lower gate.

It was said that during their initial search for Betty Alexander that the police had passed within a yard of Betty Alexander's body, but had not gone into the dispensary yard as the gate had been locked.

She was found severely injured, strangled and outraged and it was thought that she had been dead for a while. When she was found she had a scarf twisted around her neck and her coat folded under her head. However, it was also reported that she had not been strangled and that no scarf was found round her neck and that there were no marks of violence on her neck.

It was noted that within an hour of the discovery of her body that hundreds of people, mostly women with young children, gathered at the entrances of the roadways leading to the dispensary and that in the short time they were in an ugly mood as rumours that Betty Alexander's body had been mutilated swept through the crowd.

Her post mortem took place on 11 October 1952.

It was also noted that when she was found she had been wearing a kilt and that when she had gone out her grandmother had put a chrome pin in it to fasten it but that when she was found the chrome pin had been changed for an older brass pin, and it was not known who had done that or why.

It was noted that when she was found her clothing was disarranged.

A small scrap of newspaper was found on her body which was examined by the police for fingerprints and other clues, but nothing was made of it. It was found to have come from a Glasgow morning newspaper dated 2 October 1952 and more in particular that the item had only appeared in certain editions.

The police said that they thought that she had been placed there. The police said that they had a tremendous talk to fill the gap of nearly 72 hours between when Betty Alexander disappeared from her home and when her body was found.

The police said, 'We have established the movements of the girl until 5.30 on Tuesday night, and to a lesser degree, her movements until shortly after six o'clock. But after that no-one seems to have seen her'.

It was noted that it was the very same spot that Betty Alexander's mother said she heard Betty Alexander calling to her on the Tuesday evening that she disappeared. She said that she had heard Betty Alexander calling out 'Mummy mummy'.

She had gone missing earlier and the police had carried out an intensive search for her which included dragging canals near her home.

On 15 October 1952 it was reported that the police had found a fingerprint near to where Betty Alexander's body was found and appealed for all the men in the Garnethill district to come forward and volunteer for finger-printing. It was said that all men over the age of 17 were fingerprinted resulting in over 1,000 fingerprints being taken. The police said that people could refuse to be fingerprinted. They also said, 'These fingerprints will be used only in connection with this enquiry and will be destroyed as soon as they have served their purpose'. It was estimated that several thousand fingerprints would be taken.

A police Alsatian dog called Skipper was given some of Betty Alexander's clothes to smell and then told to find her trail, but with no result.

Betty Alexander was last known to have been alive at about 5.30pm on the Tuesday 7 October 1952 when she was out playing with her friends. It was said that she had possibly been seen after that time by some other children, but it was thought that their statements could not be relied upon because of their age. The police said, 'We have seen some children who say they saw her after that time, but, like all children, they are not very definite about the time'.

The Garnethill district of Glasgow was described as cosmopolitan.

Reports made included sightings of a girl like Betty Alexander walking near her home with a stout dark-haired man.

It was reported on 11 October 1952 that 120 detectives and 2,000 uniformed policemen were making door-to-door enquiries in the search for Betty Alexander.

Betty Alexander's funeral took place on the afternoon of Monday 13 October 1952. It was said that about 4,000 people, the majority of them women, had lined both sides of Buccleuch Street in Glasgow to catch a glimpse of the cortege that carried Betty Alexander to Cawder Cemetery. A policeman said, 'A lot of them seem to have come to Buccleuch Street specially for this. They are not local residents'. It was said that his statement was borne out by the fact that large numbers of people were seen to leave tramcars in Cambridge Street and to make their way on foot to join the crowds.

Over 50 wreaths, many of them sent by unknown people from all over Glasgow were carried to Betty Alexander's home.

On 31 October the police said that they were looking to identify a man that had been seen with two small girls on the evening of Tuesday 7 October 1952 shortly after Betty Alexander disappeared. They said that the man had been seen with the children in Buccleuch Lane near Dalhouse Street, a few yards from the back yard of the Sick Children's Dispensary where Betty Alexander was found dead. However, the police didn't release a description of the man.

In November 1952 the police travelled to the north of Scotland to interview a man their over her murder, but no developments were made as a result. It was said that they had gone there to investigate the movements of a man that had left his lodgings in the north side of Glasgow shortly after Betty Alexander was found dead.

On 16 October 1952 a 69-year-old man that lived in Buccleuch Lane and some of his family spent 13 hours at Glasgow Northern Police Station. He said that the police collected them from their home at about 12.30am one night and took them to the police station under warrant. He said, 'The worst part of the business was when we had to strip out of our own clothes and get into a garb, a sort of uniform that they gave us. We gave them every assistance we could and we were allowed to go home after about thirteen hours'. He added that they had been told by the senior officers in charge of the case that they had been 'cleared' and he and his wife and 29-year-old son were told that there was 'nothing against them'.

The man said that although he had lived in a house in Buccleuch Lane for seventeen years that he had never seen over the wall to where Betty Alexander's body was found.

He said that whilst at the police station he had been lined up in an identification parade in front of his 4-year-old granddaughter. However, he said that the identification parade revealed nothing.

After being released, on 1 December 1952, the man, his wife and their son gave a press conference at their solicitor’s office. The solicitor said, 'The reason I have the family here is because they have consulted me in an endeavour to find a way to put an end to the startling rumours going about their own district'. The 29-year-old son then said, 'I heard a rumour that my father had cut his throat and police were sitting at his bedside. Another day there was a rumour that my father was connected with a case of this kind before and had done time for it. But my father has never been in police hands in his life, neither has my mother or myself either, for that matter'.

Both the man and the son said that they didn't know Betty Alexander, but the man's wife said that she had spoken to her once.

Following their trip to the police station, rumours sprung up concerning an imminent arrest and in the early morning of the day they went to the police station crowds began to mill about outside until it grew so large that the police were sent out to move them away.

On 28 January 1953 the police went to the room of a 50-year-old man in Buccleuch Street after he died from a stomach wound. They spent half-an-hour photographing the room that he was found in but later said that they were satisfied that there was no foul play involved.

In 2012 it was announced that her case was being reviewed by the Glasgow Cold Case Unit, but nothing more is known about that.

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

see www.strathclyde.police.uk

see Herald Scotland

see Glasgow Times

see Aberdeen Evening Express - Friday 31 October 1952

see Birmingham Daily Gazette - Monday 13 October 1952

see Aberdeen Evening Express - Friday 10 October 1952

see Liverpool Echo - Tuesday 14 October 1952

see Sunday Mirror - Sunday 12 October 1952

see Aberdeen Evening Express - Monday 13 October 1952

see Dundee Courier - Saturday 18 October 1952

see Coventry Evening Telegraph - Wednesday 15 October 1952

see Dundee Courier - Thursday 29 January 1953

see Coventry Evening Telegraph - Saturday 11 October 1952

see Liverpool Echo - Saturday 11 October 1952

see Birmingham Daily Gazette - Wednesday 15 October 1952

see Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer - Saturday 11 October 1952

see Aberdeen Evening Express - Friday 21 November 1952

see Daily Mirror - Saturday 11 October 1952

see Aberdeen Evening Express - Monday 01 December 1952

see Daily Mirror - Saturday 11 October 1952

see No Final Solution by Douglas Skelton (Mainstream 1994)