Unsolved Murders

Stanley Blackmore

Age: 66

Sex: male

Date: 2 Aug 1963

Place: Bow Bridge, Somerset

Stanley Blackmore was found dead in a ditch in Bow Bridge, Somerset, eight days after he went missing.

He was killed by a stab wound to the heart.

A bloodstained carving knife with a 4in bone handle and a well-ground 8in blade was found nearby, however, it was later thought that it had not been the murder weapon and had been used for gutting fish.

He was last seen by his wife on 2 August 1963 when she kissed him goodbye at their home in North Street, Bradford Abbas, Dorset to go off to buy some groceries for her.

His car was found the following day, 3 August, neatly parked and locked at a beauty spot at a place called Newton Copse at Summerhouse Hill, near Yetminster, two miles away from where he lived and six miles from the ditch that he was later found in. The ignition keys to his taxi were found in a thicket.

It was thought that the murderer had driven the car there after the murder.

When the car was searched a set of nine ignition keys and a Yale key were found on a piece of red and white flex that were determined not to have belonged to Stanley Blackmore. It was thought that his killer could have been a car thief.

A paisley patterned scarf was also found in the cab and the police were trying to trace its owner.

His body was found lying face down in a deep ditch on 10 August 1963 at Bow Bridge near Yetminster, and it was thought that he had almost certainly been killed for his day's takings, which were thought would have been anything between £5 and £20. When he was found he had only a ten shilling note and a threepenny piece amongst his clothing. No wallet was found.

Stanley Blackmore had been asthmatic and his atomiser that he used for his condition was found still in his jersey pocket.

Before his body was found, it was assumed that, as he had been in poor health, that he had died in some lonely spot from an asthma attack.

His jacket was still in the taxi.

His body was found by an off-duty police constable who was out on a fishing trip.

The knife was found the following day, 11 August. It had been in thick undergrowth a few yards from the ditch where Stanley Blackmore's body was found. It was said that the knife had been ground down to a stiletto shape through long use. The police appealed to anyone that had lost such a knife to come forward. However, it was later thought that the knife might have been a fisherman's knife and not the murder weapon at all.

Stanley Blackmore’s post mortem examination showed that he died from a stab wound to the heart and that he also had head injuries. He had been stabbed once.

However, it was thought that the murderer had been seen by a 15-year-old girl who said she saw a man in Stanley Blackmore's taxi twice. She said:

I am positive I would recognise the man I saw if the police can find him.

Stanley Blackmore was found stabbed not far from Beer Hackett, the village the girl lived in.

The police said that they didn't think that the man had been a local man and suggested that he might have been a holidaymaker from anywhere in Britain. However, it was also suggested that the killer might have been a man with local knowledge. Stanley Blackmore's son-in-law said:

I am quite sure he knows his way around this area.

It was reported on the day Stanley Blackmore vanished that he had picked up a man who had apparently said he was going fishing and that Stanley Blackmore had then driven him out to Beer Hackett where he was seen by the girl in the back seat of Stanley Blackmore's cab.

She said that a few minutes later Stanley Blackmore stopped to ask where there was any good fishing and that she was passing when the man got out of the cab, stating that she got a second close look at him. She described him as:

A man aged between twenty and thirty, medium height, with long chestnut or fair hair, wearing blue jeans and black shoes with brass buckles.

The police added that he might have been wearing a brown knitted jacket.

The man was also seen by a farmer at Beer Hackett who said that the taxi stopped near his farm and a young man got out and asked if there was any good fishing in the neighbourhood. He said:

I was working on my farm about 3.30 on that Friday afternoon when Mr Blackmore drew up in his black and grey taxi. He was accompanied by a young man about 25. The young man got out of the taxi and asked me if there was any fishing around that quarter. When I told him there was not, he re-entered the taxi and it drove away. Half an hour later the taxi returned, but I could not say how many were in it.

The farmer added that at the time he thought it rather strange that Stanley Blackmore, whom he knew very well, and who knew the district, should have brought someone there to go fishing.

He described the man that got out of the taxi as short.

Following the discovery of the murder, the police said that they were seeking two men. The first was the man seen in the back of Stanley Blackmore's cab wearing the blue jeans, and the other was a soldier in walking-out uniform, who Stanley Blackmore had dropped at the Penn Mill Station at Yeovil around 4.55pm to 5pm and who then caught a train at the station.

The soldier was later traced to Dublin and was questioned upon his return. However, it was determined that he was not the man thought to have been the last passenger in Stanley Blackmore's taxi as it was found that he had left for Dublin much earlier.

They also appealed for anyone that had seen Stanley Blackmore's cab, a Morris Oxford, two-tone black and grey car bearing a blue Hackney carriage plate with the number 12 in white on the rear in the area of Yetminster, Bradford Abbas, Beer Hackett and the Yeovil Junction Road, between 2pm and 6pm, and in particular, 5pm to 6pm, on Friday 2 August 1963.

On the night of 13 August 1963 an 18-year-old man spent several hours at Yeovil police station assisting the police in their inquiries. He was described as having sandy hair and at the time wearing a black leather jacket, blue jeans and high black boots. Whilst at the police station he took part in an identification parade in which twelve soldiers from the RASC Houndstone camp took part, in civilian clothes. However, after the identification parade, the police said:

This was definitely not the man we are after. We shall now have to start again.

Another man, a 24-year-old from Perth was detained by the police on Thursday 22 August 1963 but was eliminated from their enquiries. He was interviewed by the police in both Scotland and London.

On 19 August 1963 it was also reported that the police were trying to trace a man with tattoos and a girl who had gone into a sports shop in Yeovil on 30 July 1963 for a fishing licence. The man was said to have had tattoos on both arms and wearing blue jeans, a sweater and pointed shoes and both he and the girl were said to have been Londoners. However, it was reported on 26 August 1963 that a 24-year-old man from London was questioned by the police and eliminated from the inquiries.

The police said that more than 150 police officers had been engaged in house-to-house enquiries across half a dozen villages in the area as well as parts of Yeovil, 100 of them having been drafted in from Dorset and Somerset. It was later reported on 17 August 1963 that the police were to knock on every door in Yeovil and ask each of the 24,450 people in the town where they had been on the day of the murder, with extra police being drafted in for the operation and nearly all police leave being cancelled.

It was reported that as well as asking each person to account for their movements that each person was to be asked:

  1. Can they identify the foot-long carving knife, thought to be the murder weapon.
  2. Have they ever seen before a bunch of nine ignition keys and a yale key, held together by a strand of red and white flex, found in Stanley Blackmore's taxi.
  3. Can they give any information about the fair-haired young man seen in  the taxi at Beer Hackett, half a mile from where Stanley Blackmore was found, on the murder date.

The police said they had left the big house to house search until the weekend because more people would be at home. A police superintendent said:

We hope it will turn up something, but I am becoming more and more convinced that solving this murder is going to be a long job.

Detectives from Scotland Yard were also called in to assist with the investigation and a special operations room was set up to handle the flow of information from the house-to-house enquiries.

The police also attended a football match in search of the fair-haired young man who was known to have been a passenger in his taxi. They were said to have mingled with 2,500 spectators at a weekend football Southern League match at Yeovil between Yeovil Town and Hinckley Athletic. They made an appeal by loudspeaker at half-time and each of the policemen there carried a folder containing an artist's impression of the man built up from descriptions from at least four people that saw him.

They also appealed for people to see if they could identify the keys and the carving knife found in the taxi. As a result of their efforts one man came forward to say that he had travelled in Stanley Blackmore's taxi some time before the murder.

The police said that there were two time gaps, both during the Friday afternoon, 2 August 1963. The first time gap was said to have been between 3.25pm and 5pm, during which time Stanley Blackmore drove a fair-haired man to Beer Hacket near Yetminster.

The second time gap was between 5.20pm and when he was seen driving along Newton Road and 6pm, when his taxi was first seen on top of Summerhouse Hill.

The police noted that the man that they were looking for with fair-hair was not the other fair-haired 18-year-old that they had previously questioned, stating that it definitely was not him. They said:

There is someone very much like him we are anxious to trace although of course, he may be innocent. It is a fantastic coincidence, but there must have been two men looking very much alike at the town station at about the same time.

It was also reported on 15 August 1963 that it was by then very much doubtful that the 12-inch carving knife found close to Stanley Blackmore's body would ever be established as having been the murder weapon. The knife was examined by the South Western forensic science laboratory at Bristol.

Stanley Blackmore was described as a quiet, happy man. His friends said that he was happiest whilst working in the garden of his pink-washed thatched cottage where he had lived with his wife for the previous thirty years. A neighbour said:

He was the sort of man who wouldn't hurt a fly. I am sure he had no enemies.

He was said to have previously served in the Merchant Navy and later to have been employed in the Bradford Abbas district as a plumber by a local landowner. In 1956 he joined the Yeovil borough waterworks department as an inspector, a job he kept until his retirement in March 1963.

After that he started a one-man taxi service with a second-hand Morris Oxford, serving mainly the Yeovil railway stations, although it was noted that he had previously been engaged in private hire work in his spare time for many years before that.

On the day he died he had left his home in the normal way, having been asked by his wife to buy some bananas, biscuits and a TV magazine before coming home. During the afternoon he had been assisted by other taxi drivers at Pen Mill Station during an asthma attack, but seemed to have recovered quite well.

One of the last people to see him alive was another taxi driver who saw him driving alone up Newton Road towards Yetminster at 5.10pm, at which time he said Stanley Blackmore grinned at him and gave him a thumbs-up sign.

Stanley Blackmore's funeral took place on 16 August 1963 in Bradford Abbas. Four taxi-drivers, colleagues of his, acted as bearers and police mingled with the mourners. The vicar said:

It is only natural we should feel a deep sense of anger against whoever it was who broke the Sixth Commandment, ‘Thou shalt not kill’, in such a brutal way. But we should also give thanks to God for the life of this well-loved and much-respected member of our community.

On 15 September 1963 a Scotland Yard detective in charge of the investigation said:

Unless something unexpected happens we have drawn a blank. We are moving our headquarters to Dorchester and further enquiries will be carried out from there.

Stanley Blackmore's inquest, which was held on 17 October 1963 at Yetminster, returned a verdict of Murder by some person or persons unknown.

see www.bournemouthecho.co.uk

see Somerset Live

see Sunday Mirror - Sunday 22 September 1963 (pictures)

see Daily Herald - Monday 12 August 1963

see Daily Mirror - Wednesday 14 August 1963

see Western Daily Press - Saturday 17 August 1963

see Coventry Evening Telegraph - Tuesday 13 August 1963

see Birmingham Daily Post - Monday 16 September 1963

see Western Daily Press - Monday 12 August 1963

see Coventry Evening Telegraph - Thursday 15 August 1963

see Liverpool Echo - Tuesday 13 August 1963

see Western Daily Press - Monday 02 September 1963

see Daily Mirror - Wednesday 14 August 1963

see Daily Mirror - Tuesday 13 August 1963

see Birmingham Daily Post - Tuesday 13 August 1963

see Daily Herald - Monday 26 August 1963

see Western Daily Press - Monday 12 August 1963

see Coventry Evening Telegraph - Saturday 17 August 1963

see Western Daily Press - Wednesday 14 August 1963

see Birmingham Daily Post - Monday 12 August 1963

see Belfast News-Letter - Monday 12 August 1963

see Leicester Evening Mail - Monday 12 August 1963

see The Scotsman - Wednesday 14 August 1963

see Birmingham Daily Post - Monday 12 August 1963

see Daily Mirror - Monday 19 August 1963

see The Scotsman - Monday 26 August 1963

see Western Daily Press - Thursday 15 August 1963