Unsolved Murders

Alice Moran

Age: 65

Sex: female

Date: 28 Aug 1957

Place: Collyhurst Road, Collyhurst, Manchester

Alice Moran was found stabbed and beaten to death in her sweet shop on Collyhurst Road, Collyhurst, Manchester on the evening of Wednesday 28 August 1957.

She had been beaten about the head with a poker, but nothing had been stolen even though there was £14 in a purse. It was noted at the inquest that the killer might have chosen not to steal anything in order to ensure that the crime was not a hanging offence. However, the police said that they did think that robbery was the motive.

During their investigation the police said that they were looking for a taxi driver and two young men with a brown pre-war car.

A motorist said that he had driven past Alice Moran's shop on the Wednesday afternoon and had been forced to brake sharply in order to avoid hitting two young men that had dashed out across the road and had then driven away in a brown car. It was said that the taxi driver that the police were looking for had also been forced to brake sharply and that he had spoken sharply to the men and the police said that they thought that the taxi driver might have been able to give then an accurate description of the two men.

The police said that they were also interested in tracing any women that might have attended the launderette in Rochdale Road, Collyhurst at about 11am or after and who might have seen Alice Moran there. The police said that they thought that Alice Moran might have been followed into her shop after visiting the launderette.

The police additionally said that they were trying to trace a man thought to be about 30-years-old with long brown hair and an unkempt beard wearing a dirty white shirt and dirty fawn raincoat who was seen walking towards Alice Moran's shop from Rochdale Road  at about lunchtime on the day of her murder.

When the police examined the room that Alice Moran was found dead in they found a TV comic annual which they said that none of Alice Moran's relatives could account for and they appealed for any information that might account for it having been there. The police later said, 'We are still anxious to find out who was the mystery visitor to Miss Moran's sweet shop, possibly on the day of her death, who left behind  a copy of the 'TV Comic Annual of 1954'.

Following the murder the police put Alice Moran's royal blue coat that she wore on display in a shop window in Collyhurst near to her own shop with a placard near it stating, 'This is the coat worn by Alice Moran shortly before she died. Do you remember seeing a woman wearing it any time last Wednesday?'.

Alice Moran's brother said that Alice Moran had lived alone at her shop for the previous two and a half years.

On Tuesday 3 September 1957 it was reported that the police had spoken to nine vagrants that had been sleeping out within a mile of Alice Moran's shop.

They additionally added that they were looking to trace two men that had been missing from their homes since the day of the murder.

The police also said that they were also making enquiries amongst children in the area that might have gone on errands for Alice Moran shortly before she was murdered.

On Wednesday 4 September 1957 it was reported that the police were questioning a pale-faced man in connection with the murder.

On Thursday 5 September 1957 it was reported that the police were circulating a printed questionnaire in the Collyhurst district in the hope of obtaining further clues. It was said that the questions had been:

  1. Did you know Alice Moran?
  2. Did you see her on August 28?
  3. If so, when, where and in what circumstances?
  4. Did you ever visit the shop?
  5. Did you know of anyone else who saw her?

On Saturday 7 September 1957 it was reported that the police received a mysterious call regarding Alice Moran's murder. The caller's message was, 'The woman know you will have seen her, but she will not tell you'. The police later said that they were most anxious that the caller should come forward.

On 14 September 1957 it was reported that the police enquiries had spread to Leicester.

On 26 October 1957 it was noted that there were some similarities between Alice Moran's death and that of Emily Pie, whose murder is also still unsolved.  Emily Pie was found murdered in her shop in Gibbet Street, Halifax on 6 June 1957. The similarities detailed were:

  1. Both victims were elderly women, Emily Pye being 80 and Alice Moran being 65.
  2. Both of them lived alone.
  3. They both kept shops, Emily Pye in Gibbet Street, Halifax and Alice Moran in Collyhurst Road, Manchester.

It was also reported that the police were trying to trace a 22-year-old man who had gone missing from Keyingham Agricultural Hostel in Yorkshire who they said they thought could help with their inquiries. The man’s name was published and he was described as being about 5ft 10in tall, with a fresh complexion and wearing a blue-grey suit. The police said that he was last seen at Southend carrying two radio sets, one white and the other a small portable. However, the man was later traced and was unable to help the police in their enquiries.

Alice Moran's inquest, which concluded on Friday 15 November 1957, returned a verdict of 'murder by some person or persons unknown'.

The Coroner said, 'It may very well be, one cannot enter into the minds of people who do these things, that the person or persons who did it realised that if they didn't rob they could not be hanged. That may be why no property is missing from the shop. They probably went into the shop with the idea of getting something. But having done it, he or they realised it might become a hanging matter if they were caught'. The Coroner went on to say that it seemed that somebody went to the shop to make a purchase and that Alice Moran must have gone into the living room to get change and that her assailant must have followed her, got a poker from a stand in the fireplace, and hit her.

A police detective said that at one time Alice Moran kept sums of up to £300 in her house but that she had stopped doing so the previous year.

The police said that they had taken thousands of statements from people during the course of their investigation.

On Thursday 10 April 1958 it was reported that a 40-year-old man claimed that he was being victimised by the police over Alice Moran's death. The man made his claims whilst he gave evidence at Manchester Crown Court whilst on trial with another man for breaking into a warehouse in Ancoats with intent to steal. As he gave his evidence he said that he was being 'persecuted' by the police in connection with the Collyhurst murder of Auntie Alice Moran. The 40-year-old man had lived in Rosphwaite Close in Langley, Middleton and had four children. He said that the prosecution’s evidence was 'deliberately invented'. He said that he had been stopped by a policeman as he went into a public house and asked his name after which he was 'thrown into a police car', for no reason. He said, 'At the police station, I was questioned about the Auntie Alice murder. They said I was not telling the truth. I said I had had enough of this murder. Seven or eight times I have been pulled in for this. I have been persecuted and they have questioned my kids, too'. The man’s co-accused told the court that he had seen the man lying on the ground in a small charge room after questioning but when asked by the judge whether the man had been violently handled, he said that he could not say whether he had been struck. The prosecution said that the two men had been caught 'red-handed', saying that the police had answered an emergency call and had gone out and found the man with his co-accused standing on his shoulders and trying to pull a parcel of material through a broken window. However, nothing more is known about the man's connection to the murder of Alice Moran.

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

see find.galegroup.com

see National Archives - HO 332/16 - STA 502/3/33

see "News in Brief." Times [London, England] 17 Sept. 1957: 2. The Times Digital Archive. Web. 29 May 2016.

see "Why Murderer Did Not Rob." Times [London, England] 15 Nov. 1957: 14. The Times Digital Archive. Web. 3 Mar. 2013.

see Lancashire Evening Post - Friday 30 August 1957

see Shields Daily News - Thursday 05 September 1957

see Liverpool Echo - Friday 20 September 1957

see Leicester Evening Mail - Tuesday 03 September 1957

see Manchester Evening News - Thursday 10 April 1958

see Daily Mirror - Friday 15 November 1957

see Manchester Evening News - Thursday 10 April 1958

see Halifax Evening Courier - Saturday 26 October 1957

see Lancashire Evening Post - Saturday 07 September 1957

see Belfast Telegraph - Thursday 19 September 1957

see Shields Daily News - Wednesday 04 September 1957

see Leicester Evening Mail - Wednesday 18 September 1957

see Halifax Evening Courier - Thursday 05 September 1957

see Leicester Evening Mail - Tuesday 17 September 1957

see Birmingham Daily Post - Friday 15 November 1957

see Leicester Evening Mail - Saturday 14 September 1957