Unsolved Murders

Muriel Joan Drinkwater

Age: 12

Sex: female

Date: 27 Jun 1946

Place: Penllergaer, Swansea, Glamorgan

Source: www.walesonline.co.uk

Muriel Joan Drinkwater was raped in Penllergaer Woods, beaten about the head with a blunt instrument and then shot with a World War I Colt 45 on 27 June 1946.

Her murder became known as the Little Red Riding Hood murder.

She was shot twice in the chest. The gun, which was later found not far from her body, had a distinctive Perspex grip with cross hatching and was later thought to have once belonged to a Canadian soldier. The police issued close up pictures of the gun with the distinctive handle on Saturday 6 July 1946.

The police said that the gun was a United States Government model as used during the 1914-18 war and had the serial number 1142684 on it. Its overall length was 7.5in and the length of the stock, including the width of the barrel, was 5.5in.

Images of the gun were also shown at local cinemas.

On 22 July 1946 it was reported that the police had spent some time following up clues regarding a man that was said to have owned a similar pistol with Perspex grips, and that when they finally found the man, he admitted to owning it and produced it. When the police later commented on the finding they publicly criticised the man for wasting police time saying, 'Why didn't that man tell us a fortnight ago that he had such a pistol? It would have saved us considerable time and trouble in following a false clue'.

The blunt instrument that she was thought to have been beaten about the head with was never found. The police used the assistance off the 169th Bomb Disposal Unit to try and find it, to no avail.

She had been on her way home from Gowerton County School at the time to Tyle-Du Farm at Penllergaer. She was last seen at 2.30pm as she got off the school bus, singing as she did so. It was said that she was always singing.

Her walk home from there through Penllergaer Woods should have taken 20 minutes, but she never returned home.

After she failed to arrive home by teatime her mother searched the village for her and then called the police. A search was made in pouring rain for her through the forest which was said to have been lit only by glow-worms creating small points of light.

She was found the following day, 28 June 1946 at 10.35am by a policeman, dead in the woods just off the path through it about a quarter of a mile from her home. When she was found she was still fully dressed in her school uniform and had a blue coat on and red gloves.

She was lying on her back with one arm stretched out by her side and the other raised a little. It was said that her eyes were wide open and that her skin was deathly white.

She was last seen by a 14-year-old boy who had just been out to get some eggs from Tyle-Du Farm and it was said that a cloud of suspicion hung over his head from thereon after until 2003 when a case review identified a seamen stain on her coat which ruled him out. The DNA analysis of the sample also allowed the police to rule out another man who had recently been released from prison in 1941 for the murders of two young girls and who had been considered a long term suspect.

The DNA sample was found on the back of Muriel Drinkwater's blue coat that she had been wearing and had been circled although was no longer visible.

The boy told the police that as he was returning home he saw a man in the bushes near to where Muriel Drinkwater was later found and gave them a description. He said that the man looked 'terribly stern' and that he 'had a local accent'. After being given the description of the man, the police said that they were looking for a man aged about 30-years with thick fluffy hair and wearing brown corduroy trousers and a light brown sports jacket.

The police said that they thought that her murderer had laid in wait for her and it was said that he had left cigarette stubs, sweet wrappers, and pieces of bread at the spot where he had been waiting, which were later found. However, it was also noted that it wasn't known whether the man had been waiting for Muriel Drinkwater or just any schoolgirl who might pass.

Her murder was also suspected of being linked to the murder of Sheila Martin who was murdered in Sun Hill Wood, Fawkham Green, ten days later, but there was no direct evidence to support that.

It was also reported that the gun and bullets used to kill Muriel Drinkwater were similar to what were thought to have been used to murder Robert Parrington-Jackson at the Odeon Cinema in Union Street, Bristol on 29 May 1946 and the police said that they were examining the two bullets recovered from the murder scene to see whether there was a connection.

The police also took their investigation to the United States.

Muriel Drinkwater's funeral took place on 2 July 1946 at St David's Church in Penllergaer and was attended by about 3,000 people.

Her inquest concluded on 1 November 1946, returning a verdict of murder by some person or persons unknown. The coroner said that her scalp wounds were possibly inflicted by the American Service pistol which was found nearby before she was raped and then killed by bullets.

She was the youngest of four daughters and was described as a brilliant scholar who had been hoping to go to university. She had also been a member of the Nightingale Patrol of the Girl Guides and was nicknamed the 'little nightingale' because she was always singing.

It was said that during their investigation the police searched every house within 150 square miles and interviewed 20,000 men in Swansea and neighbouring Aberdare and Carmarthenshire.

In 2010 the public records into her murder at the National Archives were closed off to the public by the Lord Chancellor's Advisory Council on National Records and Archives who stated that sealing the records would help to catch her murderer.

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

see National Archives - MEPO 3/2731

see Western Morning News - Monday 08 July 1946

see Dundee Evening Telegraph - Saturday 06 July 1946

see Londonderry Sentinel - Saturday 02 November 1946

see Gloucester Citizen - Saturday 29 June 1946

see Western Mail - Monday 22 July 1946

see Liverpool Echo - Saturday 29 June 1946

see Wales Online

see The Times

see Unsolved Casebook

see Daily Mail

see Morbidology

see The True Crime Files

see BBC

see BBC

see Wikipedia