Unsolved Murders

Elizabeth Hadden

Age: 18

Sex: female

Date: 12 Dec 1945

Place: Aberdeen Docks

Source: www.truecrimelibrary.com

Elizabeth Hadden was last seen on the Monday night 10 December 1915. Two days later on Wednesday afternoon 12 December 1945 her left forearm and hand was found on the foreshore of the River Dee at Aberdeen.

She had been missing from her home for over a week before she went missing, but it was determined that she had still been alive within about fourteen hours of her arm being found.

It was reported that her forearm had been neatly cut off with a saw with fine teeth. It was also thought that the back part of her hand had been partly eaten by crabs.

It was noted that her hand had slight nicotine stains on her fingers.

Her forearm was found by an elderly Torry cooper on the foreshore of the south side of the Navigation Channel of the River Dee near St Fittick's Road. He had found the arm lying among the boulders below the high-water mark on the stony foreshore which was described as being littered with seaweed. The foreshore was overlooked by a steep grassy embankment that ran alongside the Navigation Channel and on top of the embankment was the roadway that led from Old Torry to the Bay of Nigg.

It had a piece of binder twine tied in a granny knot loosely round her wrist. It was noted that the twine was so loose that it was thought that it might contained something inside the loop that it had formed.

After the arm was found it took the Aberdeen City Police less than four hours to identify that it belonged to Elizabeth Hadden, whose mother had lived at 9 Manor Walk in Aberdeen.

Elizabeth Hadden was a brunette and was 18 years old.

It was noted that she had not been home for over a week and that she had been wandering around for some time, although it was found that she had visited relatives in Torry on the previous Friday afternoon after which all definite trace of her disappeared.

However, it was said that she had been seen twice in Castle Street on the Monday night, 10 December 1945. The first sighting of her was made by a girl who said that she recognised her photograph in the paper and said that she had seen her in Castle Street walking along with two naval ratings and the second was of her shortly after walking along with four other girls at about 10.40pm.

The two naval ratings were described as being about 20 to 22 years of age with one of them being much taller than the other. The girl that said she saw Elizabeth Hadden with the two naval ratings had seen them from a tram and said that they had been all walking along arm in arm towards the corner of Kong Street. She said that the last she saw of them was then crossing the entrance to Lodge Walk.

Another sighting of Elizabeth Hadden was reported by a man that said he had spoken to her at the corner of Gallowgate and Upperkirkgate, opposite Marischal College at 12.45am on the Tuesday morning 11 December 1945.

It was also reported that a woman friend of Elizabeth Hadden had spoken to her at 12.45pm on the Tuesday at the junction of Constitution Street and Park Street.

It was further reported that two men said that they had seen Elizabeth Hadden, who they recognised from her photograph in the newspaper, trying to attract the attention of three sailors in Market Street shortly after 7pm on the Tuesday 11 December 1945.

The police made extensive searches for Elizabeth Hadden, including all hospitals where they enquired about an girls that had been admitted suffering from the amputation of an arm.

They also searched the river banks, both north and south for other body parts, but found none. They used 'graips' and turned over tons of tangle and flotsam, working from the place where her arm was found right round into the Bay of Nigg. They also searched the docksides and wharves in the harbour as well as the beach from the North Pier off towards the Don as well as the banks of the River Dee down to the water's edge.

The police added that their investigation was taking into account both the possibility that her arm had been washed in from the sea or that it had been washed down the River Dee.

The police added also that they were checking all ships that were in the harbour as well as vessels that had since left in the previous few days to see if anyone on board them had seen Elizabeth Hadden.

After Elizabeth Hadden's arm was found it was determined that one of her friends was also missing, a girl that had lived in Froghall Avenue and who was last seen on 9 December 1945, but she was later traced on 20 December 1945 in Perth.

Elizabeth Hadden was described by a friend who said that she used to come to their house to smoke cigarettes as a wayward sort of girl and a strong-willed girl. The neighbour said, 'She gave me the impression that her reason for going away from home, which happened only when she was out of work, was that she did not want to be  burden on her widowed mother, who has five young children to look after'.

Her father had been a shipyard worker but had died two years earlier.

Elizabeth Hadden had just turned 18 that December and had since leaving school been engaged in a variety of occupations, most of them being in hotels as a waitress, a scullery maid and also as a kitchen maid. She had also had a job in Broadford and also worked as an agricultural worker. It was noted that her last job had been as a fish worker and had worked in the fish yards. It was also noted that in her last two jobs she had only stayed for three days.


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


see Aberdeen Weekly Journal - Thursday 20 December 1945

see Dundee Courier - Thursday 20 December 1945

see Aberdeen Press and Journal - Thursday 13 December 1945