Unsolved Murders

Esther Prager

Age: 17

Sex: female

Date: 17 Oct 1908

Place: 3 Bernard Street, Russell Square, London

Esther Prager was strangled in her room on 17 October 1908.

She had taken a room in a boarding house at 3 Bernard Street, Russell Square, London the day before her murder and according to her sister for the previous eighteen months she had been living a bad life. She was a Jewish girl and had come to England from Warsaw about two or three years earlier.

Esther Prager had occupied a back bedroom on the second floor of the boarding house.

Her body was found by the son of the landlady on the Saturday morning. He had had gone into her dark room with a lit match to find her dead beneath a heap of clothes.

A towel had been tied tightly around her neck within which was an insulated electric wire, although the wire itself was not round her neck.

Close to the wire was a piece of cotton wool about the size of the palm of a hand with some blood on it whilst a similar piece was found on the floor and another piece in the centre of the bed.

There was also a second piece of wire attached to the bedstead.

The wire was later found to have been similar to that used to hang pictures up on the walls. The police later also noticed that one of the pictures in the room was missing.

Esther Prager had over a dozen abrasions to her neck and throat.

Her hands and teeth were clenched and there was a wound on her right breast. She also had an agonised expression on her face. Her eyes were closed but when the lids were opened they were found to be protruding.

The police also found finger prints on the bedstead and wash basin which were photographed with the aid of a microscope.

Her death was due to asphyxia.

A lodger heard screams at about 2am in the morning and heard someone say, 'Ga Volt!' which meant help police, but had thought that they had come from outside.

She had been seen the previous night at about 11.30pm near Southampton Row with a man about 23 years old, 4ft. 9in. tall with a pale face, dark hair and dark eyes and with a peculiar staring expression. He was described as clean shaven, of a slim build with rather broad shoulders and wearing a grey striped suit with a grey cloth cap pulled down over his ears and had the appearance of a clerk.

Another witness said that they saw a man looking at the door and window to 3 Bernard Street in the early hours whilst standing outside under an umbrella even though it wasn't raining.

However, no progress was made by the police in tracing her killer.

After Esther Prager had first arrived in England she had first lived with her married sister in the East End and worked as a tailoress but had cut herself off from her friends about eighteen months before her murder and started to frequent the West-end at night. Her sister had tried to reclaim her but without success and finally refused to have anything to do with her.

It was said that Esther Prager was aware of her beauty and could not bear to earn 7½d finishing a dozen trousers and wear rags when English girls went about in such beautiful clothes. She had said, 'I cannot bear to go about like this, look how beautifully the English girls are dressed, and I should look more beautiful than any of them'.

Esther Prager was buried at the Jewish Cemetery in High Street North, Manor Park on Thursday 22 October 1908. The whole of the expenses attached to the internment came out of the funds of the United Synagogue Burial Society, her coffin being a simple one of plain white wood. It was noted that no relatives were present.

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

see www.truecrimelibrary.com

see Wells Journal - Thursday 22 October 1908

see Dundee Courier - Thursday 22 October 1908

see Sheffield Independent - Tuesday 20 October 1908