Unsolved Murders

Dora Freedman

Age: 60

Sex: female

Date: 5 Sep 1948

Place: 126 Long Acre, Covent Garden, London

Dora Freedman was found stabbed to death in her second floor flat at 126 Long Acre in London.

She was found partly clothed lying on the floor with a carving knife in her heart and an electric flex tied around her neck that had been plaited.

The police also found a fingerprint on the knife. They said that she had been viciously stabbed many times about the head and body in such a manner that they were examining the possibility that the murder was committed by a sadistic maniac. The police added that they thought that the murderer and Dora Freedman had not been acquainted.

The police said that they thought that Dora Freedman had fought violently for her life, noting that furniture in her bedroom was found overturned and that there were other signs of a struggle.

The plaited electrical flex that was found tied round her neck was five feet long and thought to have been a vital clue. The flex was made up of a rubber covered 16-strand red, brown and black flex and the police said that they didn't think that it was a professional job.

Dora Freedman was 4ft 11in tall, of slight build, with light brown hair and spoke English with an accent. She was described as having dressed fashionably and well. It was thought that she had come to England when she was 16 years old.

It was thought that at the time that she was murdered that the person in the flat below her had had their wireless on which had drowned the sounds of what was thought to have been a violent struggle.

The police said that they thought that robbery was the motive for her murder, but they said that they didn't know why small ornaments and vases in her bedroom had been searched and strewn about the floor. However, it was later reported that it was clear that there was no other motive for her murder other than the sadistic lust to kill and that her murder was not the result of a sudden fit of temper.

They said that they were interested in hearing from anyone that had seen her on the Saturday night.

She was known locally as Russian Dora as well as Helen Freedman, and was described as being Lithuanian as well as a Russian Jewess. She was said to have been living apart from her husband alone in the flat which was a £3 a week five roomed flat. She was described as a small, rather plain and very quiet woman.

It was thought that her husband owned a West End clothes shop.

A neighbour said that she thought that Dora Freedman originally came from Russia and that she had married an Englishman. She said that Dora Freedman seldom spoke to anybody, noting her quaint, broken English, except to pass the time of day. Her neighbour, on Sunday 5 September 1948 said, 'She had been living in the flat about seven years. As far as I know she was seen alive last night'.

It was also reported that Dora Freedman was said to have been wealthy when she first married and had gone to live in Long Acre, but had latterly not appeared to be so well off.

She was said to have been known to the police as a woman of the streets who had first come to their notice in 1910.

She was found after neighbours noticed that the milk was still outside her flat and the police and fire brigade were called who then ran an extension ladder up to her room and smashed their way in.

She had been seen talking to a hatless man in Lisle Street in the West End street near Leicester Square on the Saturday night speaking in a foreign language. Some women who saw them said that they thought that the man had wavy hair and 'sideboards'.

It was reported that she had also been seen talking to another man who was described as having 'unruly hair'.

It was said that it was Dora Freedman's ambition to be the smartest woman over fifty in the West End. It was said that her clothes where always the latest and hat she spent several hours making up.

A man was questioned over her murder at Bow street police station on Wednesday 22 September 1948, but nothing more is known of that line of inquiry.

It was reported in the Daily Mirror that she might have been murdered by a young man who had discovered the strange secret of her two lives. It was said that she changed her personality and looks every night and that by day she was 'Little Granny Freedman', a plainly clothed old lady with a wrinkled face who spent her mornings shopping and her afternoons playing patience, whilst at night she was 'Russian Dora' and would go out in the latest New Look and passing for a 30-year-old woman. The article stated that her secret was her makeup which she was said to have taken two hours doing in order to transform herself into a young woman.

The article stated that, 'So successful was her 'disguise' that several years ago a twenty-six-year-old Canadian soldier fell in love with Russian Dora and asked her to marry him'. It was said that Dora Freedman tried to get a divorce from her husband from whom she had been separated for thirteen or fifteen years, but that when her young Canadian lover found out her secret he ended their romance.

The article stated that Dora Freedman was last seen in Leicester square dressed as Russian Dora but that when she was found murdered two hours later her face was that of Grannie Freedman, without a trace of make-up.

It was also suggested elsewhere that she had been murdered by a Soho enforcer.

It was reported that following her murder, women who frequented the West End streets after dark walked in the fear that Russian Dora's killer was lurking in the shadows of the back streets around Leicester Square.

It was thought that her murder might have been connected to that of Rachel Fennick who was murdered three weeks later in Broadwick Street, Soho on 26 September 1948.

In June 1950 the police said that they were looking into the possibility that she and Rachel Fennick were both killed by the man that was suspected of having murdered Agnes Walsh in a Paddington boarding house on Saturday 27 May 1950 and who later committed suicide in Gateshead, Durham, although it was later stated that he had been ruled out as a potential suspect. Agnes Walsh had been strangled.

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

see find.galegroup.com

see "News in Brief." Times [London, England] 6 Sept. 1948: 4. The Times Digital Archive. Web. 3 Mar. 2013.

see Western Morning News - Monday 06 September 1948

see Belfast News-Letter - Monday 06 September 1948

see Daily Herald - Monday 05 June 1950

see Daily Herald - Monday 06 September 1948

see Daily Herald - Wednesday 22 September 1948

see Daily Herald - Tuesday 07 September 1948

see Daily Herald - Thursday 09 September 1948

see Daily Herald - Tuesday 07 September 1948

see Hull Daily Mail - Tuesday 07 September 1948

see Gloucester Citizen - Tuesday 07 September 1948

see Derby Daily Telegraph - Tuesday 07 September 1948

see Daily Mirror - Monday 06 September 1948

see Daily Mirror - Tuesday 07 September 1948

see Hartlepool Northern Daily Mail - Monday 06 September 1948

see Ciminal Calendar by Richard Harrison 1951 p30-33