Date: 26 Sep 1948
Rachel Annie Fennick was found stabbed to death in her second floor flat at 48 Broadwick Street in Soho on Sunday 26 September 1948.
Her body was found partly dressed.
Rachel Fennick's name at birth was Rachel Hatton and was also known as Ginger Rae.
She was murdered between 10pm on 25 September 1948 and 1pm 26 September 1948 in her flat on the second floor of 46 Broadwick Street in London, W1. It was stated that the premises were used by Rachel Fennick for the purposes of prostitution.
No apparent motive was revealed.
She had been savagely attacked with a long-bladed knife.
Rachel Fennick had married a coloured American although her husband had left her shortly after their marriage and it was thought that he had died in Paris shortly after.
She was born on 19 August 1907 and had for the previous twenty years been known in the West End of London, particularly in the Soho area, as a common prostitute. The police report noted that since 1924, Rachel Fennick had eighty-four convictions for soliciting, two convictions for larceny and two for keeping a brothel.
She had been very friendly with a man from Samuel Lewis Buildings for the previous two and a half years and it was said that he had been in the habit of visiting Rachel Fennick at her flat either on Saturday night or Sunday lunch-time nearly every week-end and remaining there with her and it was thought likely that he had been acting as her ponce.
Rachel Fennick had met the man from Samuel Lewis Buildings earlier on on the Saturday 25 September 1948 at Dalston Junction at about 12.15pm. It was noted that it was a custom of hers to meet him in the East End and to do some shopping. On the Saturday they went to a cafe near the Metropolitan Hospital for some food after which they parted, arranging to meet the following day, Sunday 26 September 1948, at her flat in Broadwick Street at about 1pm.
It was thought that Rachel Fennick then went to Shoreditch near to where her sister lived and bought a chicken which she then took back home to her flat in Broadwick Street.
Rachel Fennick was seen later that night by various prostitutes in the Soho area, apparently soliciting. However, it was noted that their accounts varied considerably as to time and that bearing in mind their unreliability and unusual habits, it was fair to assume that they could not properly assess the actual times when they did in fact see Rachel Fennick.
The police reports noted three prostitutes chiefly concerned in observations of Rachel Fennick's movements on the Saturday night:
It was noted that all three of the prostitutes had known Rachel Fennick for a long time, and, in spite of strong questioning, they all adhered to their statements as to the times that they had last seen Rachel Fennick.
However, it was noted that no person could be found, whose word could be relied upon, who had seen Rachel Fennick on the Saturday evening, 25 September 1948, but added that there was no doubt that she had been soliciting prostitution in that area, although the time could not be definitely determined.
The police first arrived at 46 Broadwick Street, W1 at 1.15pm on 26 September 1948, where, in the front room on the second floor, they saw the body of Rachel Fennick. Her body was lying on the floor on her back between the table and the divan partially covered by an eiderdown. The divan was against the wall opposite the window.
Rachel Fennick was partially dressed in shoes and stockings, a slip, and a brassiere with her private parts and abdomen exposed.
She had several wounds in the region of her left breast and a stab wound in the stomach and the fingers of both her hands were badly cut.
Her body was identified by her brother who lived in Homerton Row in High Street, Hackney, and sister, who lived in Ivy Walk, Hoxton.
The police report stated that it appeared as though the man from Samuel Lewis Buildings had gone to her flat that day, arriving at about 12.45pm and finding the front door open. He had then gone upstairs but found both doors to Rachel Fennick's flat were locked. The man from Samuel Lewis Buildings was then informed by the man that lived in the flat above Rachel Fennick with his wife and family, that he had not seen Rachel Fennick since the previous night. It was noted that it was Rachel Fennick's usual practice to be cooking her Sunday dinner at about the time he called and so, realising that something might be wrong, the man from Samuel Lewis Buildings broke the panel of her door leading into her kitchen and then went into her flat and found her body.
A police divisional surgeon that attended the scene soon after pronounced life extinct. However, her body was not immediately removed from the premises and was later examined where it was by another doctor at about 7pm that same evening.
Detectives from Scotland yard were called in shortly after the body was found and all the people present were interviewed, and enquiries were immediately instituted in the vicinity to obtain likely clues.
At 6.40pm on 26 September 1948, an AS message was sent out calling police attention to all prisoners coming into custody or having been in custody since 10pm on 25 September 1948 such that their clothing might be examined for blood stains. A further AS message was sent out at 9.25pm on 26 September 1948 calling attention to the way that Rachel Fennick had been killed and asking for the preservation of any weapon similar to the type used in the commission of the offence that might come into the hands of the police.
Rachel Fennick's flat, landing and staircase, were all carefully searched, but nothing of material value was found.
In her handbag the police found three ration books, one of which was in her name, but the other two belonged to other people. One of them was found to belong to a waiter that lived in Harrington Square, but he was later ruled out of the investigation.
Her post-mortem took place at Westminster Mortuary at 2.50pm on 27 September 1948. The post-mortem report stated that Rachel Fennick's cause of death was due to haemorrhage from stab wounds to the chest. The examination revealed six stab wounds on the left side of her abdomen and chest which varied in length from 5/8in to 1 1/4in.. The fifth wound had partially severed the eighth rib, pierced the diaphragm and then incised the aorta. The rent in the diaphragm and deep tissues of the chest was about 1 1/2in long and the minimum depth of penetration was 6in.
After the examination, the pathologist said that it was his opinion that the wounds had been caused by a two-edged weapon with a blade at least seven inches long.
The doctor’s conclusion regarding Rachel Fennick's time of death was that she had died between 10pm on 25 September 1948 and 2am on 26 September 1948.
It was noted that of the stab wounds, three were of great severity and indicated great violence. It was also noted that the wounds on her hands could have been defensive and sustained in an attempt to seize the weapon from her assailant, by grasping the double edged blades resulting in cuts to both her fingers and the palm of her hand.
It was noted that her death would have ensued within two or three minutes of the infliction of the wound that had pierced her aorta.
Amongst the items taken away for detailed examination were three samples of the contents of her stomach, blood, pubic hair and head hair along with a quantity of hair that had been adhering to her fingers. Additionally, the police took possession of a small pad that they found in her vagina.
The samples were all sent away to the Metropolitan Police Laboratory in Hendon for examination along with the blood stained eiderdown and articles of Rachel Fennick's clothing that were found in the flat.
When the contents of Rachel Fennick's stomach were examined, they were found to contain about an ounce of food in an advanced stage of digestion. Meat residues were present and pea skins were seen, and the doctor that carried out the analysis estimated that her last meal had probably been eaten two or three hours before her death.
A blood sample that was analysed was found to contain an amount of alcohol equivalent to Rachel Fennick having drunk one double measure of spirit, or one pint of beer. However, it was noted that it was not possible to group her blood as it had become decomposed. However, it was noted that blood found on an under slip belonging to Rachel Fennick was determined to have belonged to blood group A, which was described as being the commonest blood groups in the population.
No seamen was detected on the vaginal pad.
When the hairs that were found to have been adhering to Rachel Fennick's hands were analysed, they were found to consist of dark brown human head hairs which would have probably appeared very dark brown or black to the naked eye. It was additionally noted that the hairs found in Rachel Fennick's hands were a different colour to Rachel Fennick's hair and the doctor that carried out the analysis said that he was of the opinion that they did not come from Rachel Fennick's head.
The analyst also found cat hairs and dark blue wool hairs. It was suggested that the dark blue wool hairs might have come from contact with a dark blue suit.
Following the discovery of her body, the police started to interview people known to Rachel Fennick.
When they interviewed the man from Samuel Lewis Buildings who discovered Rachel Fennick's body, they found that he was an unemployed tailor's cutter. He said that he had first met Rachel Fennick about two years before in a public house in the West End, adding that he thought that she was a single woman but that she later told him that she was a prostitute. He said that he had drinks with her and became very friendly.
The man from Samuel Lewis Buildings was a single man and he continued to associate with Rachel Fennick right up to the time of her death and was in the habit of visiting her at her flat in Broadwick Street, or meeting her in local public houses, almost every weekend. He additionally noted that it was his custom to go to her flat on Sundays for lunch. He said that it was the practice of Rachel Fennick to meet him in the East End on Saturdays when she usually went in that direction to buy food for their Sunday lunch. He said that he became a regular visitor to her flat and had at one point had a key to her flat door.
The man from Samuel Lewis Buildings said that on the Saturday 25 September 1948, that he met Rachel Fennick as usual at Dalston Junction at 12.15pm and that they then went to a cafe near the Metropolitan Hospital to have food and that after they had eaten that they parted. He said that before they parted, he made a promise to visit her at her flat on the Sunday 26 September 1948 at about 1pm. He said that when he left Rachel Fennick she told him that she was going to her sister's and was going to buy a chicken.
The police report stated that the man from Samuel Lewis Buildings then gave details of his movements up to him arriving home at 12 midnight, which were all corroborated by the police. He then said that the following morning, the Sunday, that he got up at about 10.30am and after having breakfast, went by bus to the West End, arriving at Broadwick Street at about 12.45pm. He said that he found the door of 46 Broadwick Street open, as usual, and then went upstairs where he found that both doors to Rachel Fennick's flat were locked. He said that he was then informed by the man that lived upstairs that Rachel Fennick had not been seen since the previous night and that knowing that it was her usual custom to be cooking the dinner at that time, that he decided to break in. He broke a panel of the door leading into the kitchen and saw a chicken and salad in the wash-basin untouched. He said that then, getting no reply from the bedroom, he forced back the bolt of the door leading from the kitchen into the bedroom. He said that he then went into the bedroom and found Rachel Fennick lying beside the divan bed on the floor.
He said that the eiderdown from the bed was half covering her and that as he began to lift up the bed cover, he noticed that she was still and did not appear to be breathing and came to the conclusion that she was dead.
He said that he then immediately called the people from upstairs and then remained in the bedroom with the man from upstairs whilst his wife went out for the police. He then waited in the flat until he was interviewed by the police.
He told the police that he had no idea where Rachel Fennick kept her money but mentioned some of Rachel Fennick's local habits and friends. During his interview, he mentioned that Rachel Fennick one day said to him, 'I was nearly strangled last night, and the woman upstairs called the police in'. He added that he knew that a man had been taken by the police but noted that he had not been told what happened. However, he noted that apart from that incident, Rachel Fennick had never told him of being threatened by, or frightened of anyone.
The police report noted that the man from Samuel Lewis Buildings' account of his knowledge of Rachel Fennick was carefully checked and found mostly to be true, but that it did appear to them that he had had some other reason beyond affection for his continual visits to Rachel Fennick, a prostitute, and suggested that it might well have been possible that Rachel Fennick had been treating him more or less as a ponce. However, the police report stated that the man from Samuel Lewis Buildings strongly denied ever having received money from her, even though the fact remained that he had not been working for over twelve months and had always appeared well dressed and fed.
The police report noted that there was no history of quarrels between him and Rachel Fennick and noted that it appeared that by her death he had lost a regular source of income. The police report noted also that there was no reason to believe that he was of a violent nature, and no evidence whatever to show that he knew anything further about the circumstances of Rachel Fennick's murder.
Rachel Fennick's sister who lived in Ivy Walk, Hoxton, said that at the time of the murder she had been at Watson's Farm in Paddock Wood, Kent visiting her family who were hop picking. She said that she last saw Rachel Fennick on Thursday 16 September 1948. When the police spoke to her she spoke of Rachel Fennick's visits to her house in Ivy walk and also of her knowledge of her boyfriend, the man from Samuel Lewis Buildings.
She spoke of Rachel Fennick's habits that were known to her and said that Rachel Fennick never had much money. She also described two rings that she usually saw Rachel Fennick wearing when she saw her but said that she noticed that on the last time that she saw her that the rings were missing. The police report noted that it was apparent from her statement that she knew very little of Rachel Fennick's movements, but that she was always pleased to see her at the weekends because Rachel Fennick was very generous with any money that she might have had. The police report further noted that following enquiries that they made that they determined that the rings that Rachel Fennick's sister mentioned usually seeing Rachel Fennick wearing were in fact pawned by Rachel Fennick a long time before the murder.
When the police spoke to the prostitute that lived at 74 Broadwick Street, W1 who knew Rachel Fennick, she said that she usually operated in the vicinity of Brewer Street, W1 and that she had known Rachel Fennick for about five years. She said that she used to see a lot of Rachel Fennick until the last few months when she said that various little incidents caused some feelings between them. The police report noted that the pretty incidents that she was referring to were common amongst their class of prostitute, and were petty quarrels that sometimes led to fights, but nothing of a serious nature.
The prostitute from 74 Broadwick Street said that in August 1948 that she and Rachel Fennick had a fight in Brewer Street, which started, so she said, because Rachel Fennick had called her 'yellow'. She said that they pulled one another's hair and admitted to bighting Rachel Fennick's ear. The police said that further enquiries showed that the fight was caused by Rachel Fennick, because she had been arrested one night for prostitution when she thought that the prostitute from 74 Broadwick Street should have been arrested instead.
However, the prostitute from 74 Broadwick Street said that she saw Rachel Fennick two days before she was murdered in Brewer Street and said that she said to Rachel Fennick, 'Why don't we be friends and forget about the fight?' and that they had a conversation and agreed that they should be friends.
The prostitute from 74 Broadwick Street said that she was certain that she had seen Rachel Fennick on the Saturday night prior to the discovery of her body. She said that she first saw her at 8.10pm in Brwer Street, W1 where she spoke to her and then next saw her between 10.20pm and 10.40pm in the same street where she said that Rachel Fennick said to her, 'Be careful, the police are down the bottom'. The prostitute from 74 Broadwick Street said that she replied, 'I'll be glad when it's 11 o'clock', and carried on walking towards Regent Street, and that that was the last time that she saw her.
The prostitute from 74 Broadwick Street went on to detail her own movements that night including meeting two other prostitutes and meeting a number of clients but was unable to throw any light on the murder.
Another prostitute that said that she had seen Rachel Fennick on the night she was murdered was the first of the two prostitutes that lived in Robert Adam Street, W1. She was a convicted prostitute who used Brewer Street, W1 for the purpose of soliciting and said that she knew Rachel Fennick as 'Rae Fennick' and had known her for about two years and had often spoken to her in Brewer Street. She said that on the Saturday night, 25 September 1948 she saw Rachel Fennick on two occasions, the first time at about 9.30pm when she saw her walking away with a man who she could not describe, except to say that he was wearing a trilby hat, and the next time shortly after 11pm the same night. She said that she remembered the second time very well as at about that time she herself had been with a man in Brindle Lane, W1 and alleged that the man tried to strangle her. She said that shortly after that episode, she said that she saw Rachel Fennick walking away with a man who she thought was wearing a brown striped suit. She said that she didn't see his face but said that he was well built. She said that she didn't see Rachel Fennick again after that incident. In her statement she then went on to describe her own experience with the man at 11pm.
The first prostitute from Robert Adam Street said that it wasn't until the following day when she heard that Rachel Fennick had been murdered that she thought that the man that had attacked her might have in some way been concerned in the death of Rachel Fennick. She then went on to describe him saying that he was between thirty and forty years of age, six feet in height, well built, with broad shoulders and had brown hair that was brushed back. She said that his teeth seemed to go in at the front and that he was deaf and seemed nervous. She said that he was dressed in a brown suit and that she was of the opinion that he was a foreigner.
The second prostitute from Robert Adam Street, described in the police report as a common prostitute, said that she had known Rachel Fennick since before Christmas 1947, saying that she was introduced to her by the first prostitute from Robert Adam Street. She said that on the Saturday, 25 September 1948, whilst in Brewer Street, she had seen Rachel Fennick at about 9.30pm going off with a client. She said that she next saw Rachel Fennick at about 11.15pm coming out of Lexington Street and turning right into Brewer Street where she saw Rachel Fennick speak to a man in a doorway. She said that she then saw Rachel Fennick and the man go off back up Lexington Street. She described the man as being about six feet tall, very well built and wearing a brown suit. However, she said that she didn't see his face. The police report noted that the second prostitute from Robert Adam Street in fact confirmed what the first prostitute from Robert Adam Street had said.
A stable man that lived in Broadwick Street, W1, in the flat above Rachel Fennick with his wife and son said that Rachel Fennick had lived in the flat below him for the past year and that she was a prostitute and frequently took men to her rooms. However, he said that he had had no conversation with her since the evening of 22 September 1948. He said that on the Saturday, 25 September 1948, that he returned to 46 Broadwick Street with his wife and son at about 9.30pm and went straight to bed. He said that he later got up at 3.45am on the Sunday morning to go to work. However, he said that both he and his wife both heard a faint scream at about 9.45pm but paid no attention to it as he thought the noise came from the Newcastle Public House, which was opposite and where there had been a party. He said that when he went downstairs to work in the early hours of the Sunday morning he noticed that Rachel Fennick's lights were on in her flat, but paid no particular attention to it as it was a common occurrence.
The stable man said that at about 1pm on Sunday 26 September 1948 he was spoken to by the man from Samuel Lewis Buildings outside Rachel Fennick's flat and then saw her body on the floor partially covered with an eiderdown. He said that after the discovery that he sent his wife off to inform the police. He concluded his statement by stating that he had no knowledge of Rachel Fennick's associates.
The stable man's wife said that Rachel Fennick usually left her flat at about 8pm each evening and went backwards and forwards with men until about midnight. She said that she was not usually absent at weekends and said that she last saw Rachel Fennick at 8.05pm on the Saturday evening leaving the house. She added that she also heard Rachel Fennick in the house at about 9.30pm, apparently with a man, and heard her say, 'This way, darling', to which she said she heard the man reply in a faint voice, 'This way?'. She said that she heard no more of either the man or Rachel Fennick. However, she did confirm her husband’s story about the faint scream at 9.45pm but said likewise that she thought that it had come from the Newcastle Public House opposite.
A woman that lived on the top floor at 13 Lexington Street, W1 with her son said that she had lived on the second floor of 46 Broadwick Street, W1 about three years before. She said that the flat was taken over by Rachel Fennick who she knew as a common prostitute and said that they were on friendly terms. She also spoke of knowing a man thought to be the man from Samuel Lewis Buildings. She said that she saw Rachel Fennick a number of times on the evening of Saturday 25 September 1948. She said that the first time was when she was walking down Lexington Street and the next was about ten minutes later when she saw her walking back along the same street with a man that she could not describe. She said that she last saw Rachel Fennick at about 9.30pm coming from the direction of Brewer Street with a man who she described as being slightly taller than herself and who had been wearing a trilby hat, but said that she couldn't describe him any further than that.
However, she did describe another prostitute who she said that she saw following Rachel Fennick in Lexington Street with the man, who was later identified as a prostitute that lived in Dean Street.
The woman from 13 Lexington Street said that she was certain that she saw Rachel Fennick on the occasions that she mentioned and was able to describe the clothing that she was actually wearing.
A prostitute who was living in Ivy Walk in Hoxton at the time she was interviewed but had been living in Royalty Mansions in Wardour Street at the time of the murder and who had known Rachel Fennick for about six years was described in the police report as undoubtedly being Rachel Fennick's closest friend. The prostitute said that she had become very friendly with Rachel Fennick on 25 July 1948 when she stayed with Rachel Fennick at 46 Broadwick Street after she became stranded and Rachel Fennick took pity on her and put her up. She said that she knew that Rachel Fennick was a prostitute and that she used to take men to her address. She said that Rachel Fennick used to solicit at about 8.30pm each night of the week and that they had an arrangement to both meet in the Round House Public House each evening. She noted that at no time had she even known Rachel Fennick take her clients to Broadwick Street for sexual intercourse which would have involved their staying all night.
She added that she knew that Rachel Fennick was a regular customer at the Sun and Thirteen Cantone Public House in Beak Street.
However, she said that she didn't see Rachel Fennick at any time on the evening of 25 September 1948. She said that on the evening of 25 September 1948 that she had an appointment with a male friend and had gone to Leytonstone after which she returned to Royalty Mansions where she had been staying at the time.
She was able to confirm that the man from Samuel Lewis Buildings was associated with Rachel Fennick and added that she had in the past at times stayed at 46 Broadwick Street and had also visited on Sundays for lunch.
A common prostitute who lived in Westmorland Terrace in Victoria said that she had known Rachel Fennick for about five years and that they had been on friendly terms, saying that they both used to solicit in Brewer Street. However, she said that Rachel Fennick was not popular with the other girls and that after drinking she would get quarrelsome. She went on to describe an incident about eighteen months earlier when Rachel Fennick and the prostitute from 74 Breoadwick Street quarrelled as well as the incident on 7 August 1948 when the prostitute from 74 Broadwick Street bit Rachel Fennick's ear.
The prostitute from Westmoreland Terrace said that on Wednesday 15 September 1948 that she saw Rachel Fennick at about 10pm in Lexington Street, and said that Rachel Fennick told her that she had been scared by a man in her flat. She said that when she asked who the man was, Rachel Fennick replied, 'A little dark fellow', who she said she took to be a barrow boy, who the police report dealt with later, ruling him out as a suspect.
The prostitute from Westorland Terrace said that she saw Rachel Fennick on 25 September 1948 a few minutes before 11pm but didn't speak to her. She noted that Rachel Fennick was alone at that time.
The police also took a statement from the prostitute from Dean Street that the woman from 13 Lexington Street said she had seen following Rachel Fennick with the man wearing the trilby. She said tat she had known Rachel Fennick for about two years and had seen her at about 8.30pm on the Saturday 25 September 1948 and said that she had followed Rachel Fennick up Lexington Street several times in the evening, but just said that she was walking around and not doing anything in particular.
The police report described the prostitute from Dean Street as being not reliable but noted that she did say that she saw Rachel Fennick in Brewer Street at 11.10pm, which the report noted was in fact confirmed by the two prostitutes from Robert Adam Street. She added that she saw Rachel Fennick speak to a man who she described as thirty to forty years of age, six feet tall, well built, with a dark complexion, dark brushed back hair, clean shaven, with uneven and dirty teeth and who was dressed in a dark well-cut suit, a white or cream shirt and carrying a light raincoat slung over his shoulder.
She said that the man had previously spoken to her and that he had spoken with a Spanish, Maltese or Greek accent. She said that she followed Rachel Fennick and the man and saw them enter 46 Broadwick Street. She said that that would have happened before 11.15pm as she herself was back indoors in Dean Street at 11.15pm.
The police report noted that one peculiar feature of the individual was that he appeared to the prostitute from Dean Street to be deaf as she said that all the time that he was talking to her he was watching her lip movements.
She also concluded her statement by saying that Rachel Fennick had claimed friendship with 'Russian Dora' (Dora Freedman who was also murdered in Soho on 5 September 1948 and whose case is also unsolved) and that since her death she had been worried. She said that Rachel Fennick told her that if anyone tried to kill her that she would mark them in the face with her key.
The police also interviewed a number of previous associates of Rachel Fennick.
The first associate was a builder who lived in Lanark Mansions in Maida Vale. He said that he had first met Rachel Fennick in a club in the West End in 1939 when she was then working for the LMS Railway on one of their delivery lorries. He said that they then lived together as man and wife, but that he was sentenced to two years imprisonment for larceny in January 1944, a sentence which was later reduced on appeal to six months and that after his release he had gone into the Pioneer Corp, from which he was discharged on 20 September 1945 as being medically unfit. He said that he lost all contact with Rachel Fennick and didn't hear of her or from her until 17 August 1947 when she asked him for some monetary assistance and he gave her some money. He said that he next saw her in March 1948 outside the Newcastle Public House when she complained to him that she was being pestered by a certain waiter from Harrington Square in the pub. The builder said that he pretended to be Rachel Fennick's husband and spoke to the waiter who told him that he was in love with Rachel Fennick, but then eventually left. At that time the builder had been living at 33 Marshall Street, W1 which was close to 46 Broadwick Street.
The builder said that he saw Rachel Fennick several times in the street and on one occasion outside the Sun and Thirteen Cantons Public House in Beak Street where he said that Rachel Fennick introduced him to a number of people as her husband. He said that the last time that he saw Rachel Fennick was on 4 September 1948 at about 11pm in Brewer Street when she was with her girlfriend, the prostitute that went to live in Ivy Street described as Rachel Fennick's best friend. He said that the three of them then went to 46 Broadwick Street and had drinks and he stayed the night.
The police report noted that they checked the movements of the builder on the night of the murder and concluded that he could in no way be connected with the murder. The report stated that corroboration of the builder’s movements on the night of the murder was supplied by a rent collector who was in fact employed by the builder. The police report noted that although the rent collector was employed by the builder, they were satisfied that his corroboration of the builder’s movements at the material time was genuine.
When the police spoke to the waiter from Harrington Square, after tracing him, a 28 year old native of Cyprus, they found that he had come to the United Kingdom with the army in 1945, but returned to Cyprus later in the same year, but then come back to the United Kingdom in 1946 as a civilian. The police determined that he had had a number of situations as a commis-cook since arriving and that from early April 1948 until August 1948 he had been residing at 43 Lexington Street, London, W1, in a furnished room. When he made a statement, he said that he had first made the acquaintance of Rachel Fennick in 1946 and used to go with her to her flat for sexual intercourse, paying sums of 30/-d or £2 to stay the night. He said that he found out her real name in November 1947 and that it was arranged that the two of them should live together at 46 Broadwick Street, which they did for some five weeks after which the waiter said that he left as he could not afford it. However, he said that he continued to visit her on different occasions and said that one time her best friend was there, the prostitute that later went to live in Ivy Walk.
He said that the last time that he saw Rachel Fennick was four days before she was murdered.
The police stated that his movements on the Saturday and early Sunday morning were rather vague but said that there was no evidence whatever to connect him to the murder. The report stated that his clothing, hair and a certain knife that he had in his possession, were all examined at the Metropolitan Police Laboratory, but with a negative result.
The police also spoke to a 37-year-old fruit vendor who lived in Paradise Walk in Chelsea. He was a married man with two sons and said that he had known Rachel Fennick for about two years. He said that he met her first when he was acting as a street trader in Berwick Street, W1. He said that they were friendly as casual acquaintances and that he had stayed with her on about eight occasions, the last time, he said, being just before Christmas 1947.
He said that they also used to drink together in the Argyll Public House, City of London Public House and the Fun and Thirteen Cantons Public House, all of which were in close vicinity of 46 Broadwick Street.
It was said that on the evening of 25 September 1948 at about 9.30pm or 10pm that the fruit vender had called in at the Sun and Thirteen Cantons Public House and enquired after Rachel Fennick with the barman and that after being told that she had not been seen that he left.
In his statement the fruit vender said that the last time that he saw Rachel Fennick was on 28 July 1948, a date he particularly remembered as he had on that occasion 'backed a winner' and had given Rachel Fennick some money in the Sun and Thirteen Cantons Public House, noting that she was supposed to be behind with her rent.
However, the police report stated that at the material time, the fruit vender had been ill in bed at his address with bronchitis and malaria.
The police also took a statement from a 23-year-old carpet porter who lived in St Jame's Dwellings in Silver Palace. He had known Rachel Fennick as a common prostitute for the previous four or five years. He said that they became friendly and used to drink together in the Newcastle Public House. He said that shortly after April 1947, he was convicted for larceny and receiving and sentenced to 18 months imprisonment at the Central Criminal Court after which he was released on 17 June 1948. He said that after his release he saw Rachel Fennick again and used to drink with her fairly regularly on Saturday nights between 10pm and 11pm in the Sun and Thirteen Cantons Public House. He said that on some of those occasions Rachel Fennick's best friend, the woman that later moved to Ivy Walk, was present.
He added that he often stayed the night with Rachel Fennick at 46 Broadwick Street, the last time being the night of Friday 24 September 1948. He said that he went there with his friend, a picture frame maker from Livonia Street, and that Rachel Fennick's best friend was also there and that the four of them stayed the night and had a few drinks and had what he described as 'a bit of fun'. He said that he and the picture frame maker left first at about 8.45am on the Saturday 25 September 1948 but arranged to meet Rachel Fennick in the Sun and Thirteen Cantons Public House later that night at 10pm.
He said that the next time that he saw Rachel Fennick was at 8pm the same evening in Brewer street where she was soliciting. He said that they didn't speak but did wave to each other.
He said that he kept his appointment with Rachel Fennick for 10.15pm at the Sun and Thirteen Cantons Public House but said that Rachel Fennick didn't turn up. He said that he and the picture frame maker waited for Rachel Fennick until 10.40pm after which they went out to look for her and her best friend, but didn't find either of them. He said that he and the picture frame maker then went to 46 Broadwick Street at about 11.20pm to find Rachel Fennick. He said that when they got there the lights were on but that they could get no reply to their continued knocking.
However, the carpet porter said that he didn't think that it was unusual that her light was on in her room as she always left the light on when out soliciting, although he did say that he thought that it was odd that she should be having a client at that time as it was her regular routine to cease soliciting at about 10pm, although he said that he paid it no further attention and went home.
He said that on the Sunday morning, 26 September 1948 at about 11am he again went to 46 Broadwick Street with the picture frame maker where they saw the stable man's wife who lived on the top floor above Rachel Fennick's flat. He said that he asked where Rachel Fennick was and said that she told him that she did not know and had not seen her that morning.
The carpet porter said that the next that both he and the picture frame maker knew of the matter was that Rachel Fennick had been murdered.
The police spoke to the carpet porters friend, a 24 year old picture frame maker from Livonia Street in London, W1 who they said corroborated the carpet porters story and said that they were satisfied that neither of them were concerned in any way with Rachel Fennick's murder. The picture frame maker said that he had known Rachel Fennick as a casual acquaintance for about two years.
A goods porter that had lived in Kimble street who was married but separated from his wife was interviewed by the police over an incident that took place at 46 Broadwick Street on 31 August 1948. He said that he had been accosted by Rachel Fennick in the street and had agreed to go back to her flat with her for sexual intercourse for £1. 0. 0. He said that during the time that they were in her flat he missed £5. 0. 0. from his wallet and accused Rachel Fennick of stealing it. He said that there was an argument during which he slapped her in the face and the police were called. They were both taken to West End Central Police Station and after the matter was investigated the goods porter was allowed to go. The police report noted that it was first thought that the goods porter might have had something to do with the murder, but that following enquiries it was definitely established that he had been elsewhere at the time of the murder. It was noted that he fully explained where he was at the time of the murder and his statement had been corroborated. It was noted that Rachel Fennick had on a number of occasions been suspected of stealing money from her clients and it was thought that there was no doubt that she had made a number of enemies that way.
The landlord of the Sun and Thirteen Cantons Public House in Fleet Street, W1, was interviewed and he spoke to Rachel Fennick as a regular customer in his house, saying that she was usually there between 9pm and 11pm on weekdays. He said that the last time that he saw her was at about 11pm on Friday 24 September 1948 when she left the house after drinking alone all the evening. He said that he had sold her a half-bottle of gin and that she had promised to see him on the following evening when she would pay for it. However, he said that he didn't see her and that she didn't visit his pub on the Saturday, as would have been her usual custom. He also mentioned in his statement seeing the fruit vender come into the pub at about 8.45pm on the Saturday 25 September 1948.
During the police investigation into the murder the police interviewed a large number of people resulting in a number of complaints of assaults on prostitutes arising, which might have had some bearing on the murder, some of which are detailed below.
A prostitute that was living in Frith Street, W1 was seen who said that sometime in July 1948 that she took a man to her flat, which was then in Kingly Street, W1, for the purpose of sexual intercourse. However, she said that whilst they were there that the man grabbed her by the throat and produced from his inside jacket pocket a long knife. She said that his features suddenly changed and that she screamed for her maid. However, she said that the man then said, 'Shut up, don't be a fool. I'm only trying to frighten you'. She said that the man then made a further movement towards her, but that upon hearing the maid scream for the police, he ran out of the room. She said that just before leaving, the man said, 'I've got no time for all you bloody people. I'm going to do all the prostitutes in'. He then ran away. The prostitute described the man as being between 34 and 38 years old, 5ft 8in or 9in tall, with a sallow complexion, dark brown hair, dark eyes, with a pointed chin, clean shaven, a medium build and dressed in a military mackintosh with belt, a blue-grey single breasted suit and not wearing a hat. She further described him as 'the office-worker type'. She alleged that the knife had been of blue-ish steel, scalloped, with a blade that was about twelve inches long.
Another prostitute who the police interviewed who lived in Carnaby Street, W1, said that on 4 October 1948, that a man accompanied her to her flat for the purpose of sexual intercourse, and that once inside he 'became suddenly emotional and wore a queer expression. His eyes became particularly large and had a wild look in them'. She said that she feared that the man was about to assault her and so she called her maid. She said that she gave the man his money back and he left the premises. She said that she saw the man again in the street about ten minutes later and said that he asked her, 'Why did you give me my £1 back?' and said that he gave an inane grin and a senseless chuckle. She added that she thought that the man was mental and told him to go or else she would call a policeman and that he then ran away. She also described the man in some detail.
The police also spoke to a club proprietress at the Miranda at 24 Rommilly Street, W1, who lived in Russel Chambers in Bury Place, WC and who complained about the peculiar actions of an acquaintance that she had made at the club. However, the man was later identified as a 27-year-old GPO clerk who had lived in Langridge Road in Earls Court. He had not previously come under the notice of the police and a statement was taken from him but the police report concluded that he could in no way be connected with the murder of Rachel Fennick. The police report noted that he was undoubtedly of a peculiar mental state and certain items of his clothing were submitted to the laboratory in Hendon for examination, but without good result.
The police report noted that all three of the women that had reported the incidents attended the Criminal Records Office to see the photograph albums in an effort to identify their assailants. The prostitute from Carnaby Street picked out a certain photograph of a man who she said was similar to the man that had acted strangely in her flat, however, the man, who had at the time of the identification been in custody in Bristol, was interrogated respecting his movements on the day of the murder and the 4 October 1948 when the woman said the incident in her flat occurred, and the police said that they were satisfied that he had not been in London at the material time for either the murder or the incident in the prostitutes flat in Carnaby Street.
During the investigation the police stated that they visited cafes, clubs, public houses and other likely places frequented by prostitutes and questioned people, but nothing transpired to assist with the murder enquiry. The police added that in an effort to find anyone that might have seen the murderer leave 46 Broadwick Street they made house-to-house calls in the surrounding streets and spoke to people that frequented the area to see if they could assist in any way, but with no good result.
Another line of enquiry that was detailed in the police report was that of a woman that had lived in Glengall Road, Kilburn, NW6, who said that at about 1.30am on Sunday 26 September 1948 whilst in Piccadilly, W1, a man came towards her from the direction of Piccadilly Circus and she noticed that his face was covered in blood. She said that she asked him if she could assist him and then noticed that he had three cuts on the right side of his face and a very deep cut on his chin. She said that he didn't speak, and appeared to be in a daze and that she then took him to Boots, the Chemist, in Piccadilly and that after he was examined by the chemist there, she was advised that he should be taken to hospital. The woman said that she then called a cab at about 2.15am and took the man to an address in Mortimer Crescent in Kilburn which she said she later found out was his address. She said that she repeatedly questioned the man as to how he had come by his injuries, but said that he kept making wild statements and became amorous and started to maul her. She said that she remained with him until about 4.30am when she left.
The police report noted that the man was traced and found to be a 39-year-old civil servant employed by the Ministry of Food. When he was interviewed by the police he made a statement in which he said that on the Saturday evening, 25 September 1948, he had been with his cousin who lived in Ridgemount Gardens, London, WC2 in the West End and that they had gone to a dinner-dance at Oddeninos where they stayed until about twelve midnight. He said that he had had rather a lot to drink and that, according to him, he suffered from a blackout. The police report stated that it appeared that he left Oddeninos with his cousin and had gone to Piccadilly Tube Station, but then refused to accompany his cousin home and left her there. The police report noted that there was no doubt that the man had been in such a drunken state that he must have fallen over or in some similar way received his injuries and that if it were not for the timely assistance of the woman from Glengall Road, may have suffered even more severe injuries.
The police report noted that his injuries were consistent with him having fallen over and were not caused by a knife. The police report stated that the clothing that he had been wearing on the Saturday night, 25 September 1948, was taken possession of and submitted to the Laboratory at Hendon for examination where it was found that the blood stains were his, from his own blood, and that in all the circumstances he could not be connected with the murder of Rachel Fennick.
The police report on the civil servant concluded with the note that the man was of course, a man of substance and of excellent character.
The police report noted that during the course of the enquiry that Herbert Savil was arrested at Grays Inn Road Police Station and charged with the murder of Vera Crawford who was a common prostitute at Greville Street, WC1 on 17/18 September 1948. He, and another criminal who was also in custody for assaulting a prostitute were put up for identification at Brixton Prison and a number of witnesses in the Rachel Fennick case were called to see if they could identify either of the men, but failed to do so. The police report stated that it was thought possible that either of the men might have been connected with the death of Rachel Fennick or with assaults on prostitutes generally in the West End. The police report further noted that they interviewed Herbert Savil over the murder of Rachel Fennick but were satisfied that he could not be connected in any way.
The police report also noted that they had collaborated closely with the Divisional Detective Inspector of E Division who had investigated the murder of Dora Freedman, who was also known as Russian Dora. The report stated, 'No injury other than by a knife or similar weapon was caused to deceased, and in this respect this case differed from the otherwise similar case of 'Russian Dora'.
The police report detailed the barrow boy who Rachel Fennick said that she had thought had been into her flat on one occasion. He was seen by the police and it was found that it was common knowledge that he did 'skylark' about with prostitutes in general . He was interrogated at some length, but the police report concluded that although he knew Rachel Fennick, he could not be connected with her murder in any way. The report noted that he was not of a violent nature and had never been known to assault or interfere with Soho prostitutes.
The police report included an additional list of prostitutes, with the CRO numbers where they had them, which was 34 names long. The report stated that they were all questioned at length, with many of them being spoken to many times in the streets of Soho to get some assistance from them. The police report noted that Rachel Fennick's murder was a savage one and that it had caused a considerable amount of reticence amongst the 'prostitute sorority', but that despite that, they were satisfied that if any of the prostitutes mentioned could have assisted in tracing the culprit, that they would have done so.
The police report stated that after talking for many hours with Rachel Fennick's acquaintances, that it appeared certain that her murder was not a personal attack.
The report stated that they had considered several theories as to the possible motive for her murder. The report noted that, as in other similar prostitute murders, it was suggested that her murder had been a 'vengeance killing', and noted that a lot of gossip had been heard about Rachel Fennick being a police informer and that that had brought about her death. However, the police report stated that they had carefully gone over that aspect, and concluded that as the facts stood, it seemed to them that Rachel Fennick had met her death at the hands of a maniacal killer.
The police report also considered the motive of robbery, stating that it was just possible that in addition to committing the murder, the culprit had stolen some £1 notes from a drawer, as well as half a dozen articles of clothing, (camiknickers) which were said to have been in a drawer on Friday 24 September 1948. The police said that a description of the articles was circulated, but noted that it was by no means certain, especially when having regard to the manner of Rachel Fennick's life, that the articles had been stolen.
The report stated that 'Although certain articles of clothing and a small amount of cash may possibly have been stolen by the murderer, the violent nature of the attack is more consistent with maniacal tendencies than any intention to rob'.
It was noted that on 5 December 1949 at 4 Old Compton Street, that a prostitute had brought a man home who she had met in Romilly Street, W1 for sexual intercourse. She said that no sooner had they got back to her flat that the man attacked her with a hammer that he had had in a black back, striking her over the head several times. However, the prostitute’s maid had been in the adjoining room and rushed in and the man panicked and ran off. The prostitute received two wounds to the head and a broken left forearm from where she had tried to protect herself. The man was later caught and when he was questioned he said that the attack arose out of his separation from his wife and said that he had attacked the prostitute without reason other than 'I felt generally mad with all women at that time and when this women spoke to me this this seemed to be the final straw'.
The police report stated that they had confirmed that the man's wife had left him and that it was due to his mental history. They also found that he had twice been detained in mental hospitals and had been certified insane October 1948 and had resided in hospital until February 1949 when he was released as 'relieved' but not cured.
However, the police said that they found no evidence to link him with the murder of Rachel Fennick and considered that he was not the person that murdered her.
In 1950 a woman gave information about a coloured man who she said had been taken to see a prostitute in Broadwick Street around the time of the murder. However, it was considered that the woman was simply trying to get the man that she had mentioned in trouble and had also associated him with the murder of Dora Freedman and had also made a reference to the 'Wallace' case.
It was noted that in April 1962, a woman wrote an article that appeared in the publication 'Today' on 28 April 1962 in which she detailed her experiences living in the flat where Rachel Fennick was murdered. The article was later read by a man whilst he was in prison who then wrote a letter to New Scotland Yard offering information, stating that he had been in London at the time and lent a man that he didn't know a knife that he didn't get back but that after reading the article thought that it was a coincidence that was worth checking out. He later made a statement which read:
A few months prior to my eighteenth birthday I was working as a trainee capstan operator with Smith's Francis Tools, Moseley Street or Cheapside, Birmingham. Before that I had been working at Harwoods. A week before my eighteenth birthday, My friend and I decided to pack up our jobs and go to London to try and get a boat and get abroad. It was on the Friday before my birthday, that would have been the 15th September 1948, when we gave our cards in. We left Birmingham on the Friday night, at about 6.30pm on our push bikes on the way we got a lift on a lorry. About four weeks before we left, my friend and myself nicked about 8 sheath knives and when we left for London he still had one of his left and I had two, and we took them with us. I would describe the knives that I had as follows:
When we arrived in London we went to the Church Army Hostel in Johnson Street. That evening I wanted to go to a cinema near the hostel, but my friend did not want to go. Before I went to the pictures, I went out on my own for a walk, this was the afternoon. A young chap came up to me, I should say he was about 18 years old. He indicated the knives in my belt and asked if he could have a look at them. I showed him and he asked if he could borrow the bone handled knife till the following morning. He gave no reason for wanting it but said he would give it back to me on the Sunday morning as he was staying at the same place as me. I suppose he must have seen me at the hostel. I let him have the knife and didn't see him again. He took the knife but not the sheath. I don't know where my friend went that night or what time he came in. The knife he had with him was practically identical with the smooth handled knife that I had. It definitely had a single cutting edge. We both had previously possessed double edged commando knives, but I lost mine prior to going to London and my friend didn't bring his with him as far as I can remember. I can't remember whether my friend mentioned what he had been doing on the Saturday night or not. I saw him at breakfast on Sunday morning at about 9 o clock. He still had his knife then. We left the hostel and went on some barges where we were caught by the dock patrol. We escaped later and got our bikes and went to Tilbury where we spent Sunday night in a barn. We left Tilbury on Monday and rode back to Birmingham, arriving Tuesday morning which was my birthday. The only money we had when we were in London was our previous week's wages which would amount to £2 10s each. The man to whom I gave the knife, or rather lent the knife, was about 18 years old, thin build, about 5ft 2in tall, dark brown hair, short and pushed back flat to one side, thin features, no noticeable accent, no particular features. He was dressed in dark suit and his appearance was fairly reasonable. My friend could verify this. He is married and the last I heard he was living in Oakfield Road, or the one next to it, Fulham Road, at Cannon Hill, Birmingham.
However, nothing further developed following the man's disclosure.
It was also later suggested that she might have been murdered by Maltese or Egyptian gangsters that had been running organised prostitute and brothel rackets in Soho as a message to other prostitutes who operated in their territory, but there is little more to go on.
In June 1950 the police said that they were looking into the possibility that she and Dora Freedman 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.
Rachel Fennick's murder has yet to be solved.
see "News in Brief." Times [London, England] 27 Sept. 1948: 3. The Times Digital Archive. Web. 3 Mar. 2013.
see Ciminal Calendar by Richard Harrison 1951 p30-33
see National Archives - MEPO 3/3027
see Daily Herald - Monday 05 June 1950