Date: 2 Oct 1931
Place: Shaftesbury Avenue
Annie Upchurch was strangled. She was a prostitute and was found dead in the doorway of a shop in Shaftesbury Avenue.
Frederick Herbert Charles Field was tried for her murder at the Old Bailey but acquitted. He was later convicted for the murder of Beatrice Vilna Sutton which he said he did because he wanted to know what it was like to murder someone.
Annie Upchurch was found dead on the morning of 2 October 1931 in the doorway of an empty shop that ran from Shaftesbury Avenue to New Compton Street. She had been strangled and robbed and her clothing was disarranged as though she had been dragged along the floor. She had a gag in her mouth and a green belt was tied tightly around her neck. It was thought that she might have been murdered on 29 September 1931.
Her body was partly clothed and the whole of her breast extending downwards to an inch of her navel was fully exposed. The skirt of her green two-piece costume was underneath her head having been torn completely down a side seam and tightly rolled. the lower portion of her body was clothed with a pair of shoes, stockings and knickers which were all in their proper position. Two vests that she had been wearing had been pulled downwards towards the waist, the thin rubber shoulder straps having been broken. The white silk jumper that she had been wearing had been torn and part of it had been ripped off and used as a gag which was found in her mouth. The back portion of her coat was underneath her neck and head. The belt that had been used to strangle her had been cut by the doctor that was called out when she was found immediately after he arrived. It had been cut close to the knot. Her green hat was found about three feet from her head towards the Shaftesbury Avenue entrance. What were thought to have been her black gloves were found close by her head.
Other items that were found at the scene included a paste diamond brooch which was about six feet from her head in the same direction as the hat, a small white metal chain with a heart shaped pendant, which was round her neck, and unbroken, and a small white metal wrist watch on a black moire band on her left wrist that had stopped at 8.20. It was noted that her handbag was missing.
Her body was found face upward with her head pointing towards the Shaftesbury Avenue side and her feet towards New Compton Street. Her body could not be seen from any exterior part of the building. Her left arm was outstretched above the head, and touching one wall of the passage and her right arm was lying by her side. Her left foot was touching the skirting of a wall at the end of the passage which was a wall that continued along at an angle of 135 degrees from the wall of the passageway that she was lying in. Her left foot was about ten inches from the corner of the two meeting walls and her right foot was about twelve inches away in a normal position.
The dust from the corridor that she was found in was collected for later microscopical analysis. It was noted that the dust and other marks on the floor indicated that she had been dragged along part of the passageway.
On the wall, which was composed of wooden partitions, by the right side of Annie Upchurch's body, there were certain marks that appeared to have been made by the heel or toe of a shoe or boot. They were about 18 inches from the floor and in the immediate vicinity to where the brooch was found. Also, on her costume, there were certain grey marks which appeared to have been caused by her costume having been rubbed against the grey painted walls of the passage.
The only form of identification on her was the address 'France's, 19, Bear Street, Leicester Square, W.C.2' which was actually the address of the firm that had supplied her green costume. At the time, the police didn't know Annie Upchurch's identity and so they went to the Bear Street address where they spoke to a woman that had said that they had supplied the green costume and hat to a customer on 28 August 1931 who had given the name of Miss Laverick and an address of Flat 1, No.7, Bear Street and so the police went to that address where they spoke to two women. They said that the two women didn't supply any information at first but later the same day gave the police a telephone number (Victoria 8056) as being one frequently used by a woman that they knew as Norma' which was another name that Annie Upchurch used, saying that she had used the costume.
The police then ascertained that the subscriber to the number lived at 82 Warwick Street in Pimlico and when they went there they spoke to two people who said that they knew a Norma Laverick who was living with them and they then went to the mortuary where they identified Annie Upchurch's body.
It was then found that Annie Upchurch frequently paid visits to sailor friends in Chatham and so they contacted the police in Chatham where it was found that she was probably the wife of a wireless telegraphist of No.442, Flight, Naval Air Service, Novan, Evanton in Scotland. The police said that they then telegraphed the Chief Constable at Ross & Cromarty Police in Dingwall and asked that they interview the wireless telegraphist. It was then said that the wireless telegraphist had been transferred to RAF Camp, Gosport in Hampshire and so they sent a telephonic message to the Gosport Police who then interviewed the wireless telegraphist but he said that he was not Annie Upchurch's husband but that they had lived together previously. He told the police that Annie Laverick’s name was Upchurch and said that as far as he knew her parents had lived in Review Road near Wembley.
The police said that they then went to Review Road and fund out that Annie Upchurch's parents had removed to Crest Road in Cricklewood. They then went to Crest Road where they interviewed Annie Upchurch's parents who confirmed her identity. They said that she was born on 15 August 1911. Her parents gave the police details on Annie Upchurch's background including the trouble they had had with her about her association with boys and said that on one occasion Annie Upchurch had stayed out for two nights and had been reported as missing. They said that after that she was placed under the care of the Salvation Army at St Cuthbert's Hospital on Ross Road in South Norwood and then after about nine months she went into domestic service at a house on Ross Road and also at a house on Euston Road. However, it was said that after a short period in domestic service she had commenced her life of prostitution, around the end of December 1927.
It was also found that on 3 November 1928 Annie Upchurch had given birth to a baby girl who was at the time of Annie Upchurch's murder still alive and residing at the Warwick Street address. The police report stated that the information showed that Annie Upchurch had been a prostitute since she was the age of 16. They said that she had since used various brothels in the West End in pursuit of her illicit profession and had been for the previous six months using a flat at 7 Bear Street with another woman.
The police determined that the premises at 173/177 Shaftesbury Avenue had been formerly occupied by Messrs. George Johnstone Ltd, Motor Body Builders, who had since moved to 86/88 Rosoman Street in Rosebury Avenue and that they had vacated the premises in the last week of May 1931. It was said that since then, two firms of estate agents, Messrs Perry & Hall of 40 Shaftesbury Avenue and Messrs. Shaw & Partners of 4 Broad Court Chambers in Bow Street were each supplied with a set of keys to the premises with a view to letting them.
It was said that the man that had attacked her would have had a key to the shop.
Frederick Field was a sign fixer. He said that he had been to the shop to remove some signboards and had met a man in a suit that had handed him some paperwork stating that he was taking possession of the shop and so he gave him the keys. He said that he later met the man in Piccadilly later that night to discuss the question of the lighting in the shop. He said that when he met him to discuss the lighting that he had suggested that they go to the shop and said that the man told him that he didn't have the keys with him and said that he would go and get them and then went off and Frederick Field said that the man never returned.
However, Frederick Field later went to Richmond Police Station where he identified a man as being the man that he had given the keys to. The man that he identified said that he had never seen Frederick Field in his life.
At the Coroner’s inquest, the Coroner told the jury that they might decide to accept Frederick Field's evidence or not, saying 'You might express your disbelief in his story, but at the same time you might well record a verdict against some person or person unknown'. However, he added, 'I think that the man identified in the police line-up will have satisfied you that he was not the man to whom those keys were given. Similarly, that her boyfriend was not in London on the Tuesday afternoon.'. The jury returned a verdict of murder by a person or persons unknown.
Annie Upchurch lodged in Warwick Street in Pimlico. She had run away from home at the age of 16 and started living on the streets after having caused great trouble for her parents.
The police stated that they had three main suspects:
They said that Frederick Field had given his first statement on 2 October 1931 in which he had given his trade as a sign fixer in the employ of Messrs. Hilder & Co., Sign Contractors, of 23 Great Pulteney Street. He said that just previous to 1.45pm on 29 September 1931 he had gone, as directed by his employers, to the offices of Messrs. Perry & Bell and obtained two keys, a Yale key and a mortise lock key, which belonged to the empty premises situated at 173/177 Shaftesbury Avenue, for the purpose of removing the 'To Let' notice boards from the inside of the window abutting Shaftesbury Avenue. He had said that after being inside the premises for about five minutes that a man came into the room where he was removing the signs wearing a suit and said that he asked him for the keys.
Frederick Field described the man that had asked him for the keys as aged about 30, height about 6 feet 1 inch, complexion tanned, hair colour unknown but cut very short at the back and sides (clipped), a mousey coloured thin and narrow moustache with space between the moustache and top lip, a gold tooth in the right upper jaw towards the front near the eye, of medium build, with square shoulders and well-spoken and quick in speech. He said that he appeared to be of a very energetic nature and was dressed in a biscuit or beige coloured plus four suit with a two inch square pattern, had a gingerish brown tweed cap and had worn a gold wrist watch of a thin pattern on a leather strap on his left wrist. He said that the man had the appearance of a well-to-do man and a native of London.
Frederick Field had said that the Plus Four man had entered through the doorway on the left-hand side of the entrance hall of No. 177 and had stopped about four yards from the front door while he was in a wooden frame abutting the window and that he said to him 'Good afternoon, have you got the keys?' and Frederick Field said that he replied, 'Yes thanks'. He said that the Plus Four man then said, 'Will you hand them over to me?'. Frederick Field said that he hesitated and that the Plus Four man noticed him hesitate and said ''It’s all right, I have got an order', and that he then produced a plain piece of paper, about half foolscap size, with part perforations on the edge, and which looked as though it had been torn out of a pad or order book. He said that he looked at the paper and said that as far as he remembered it had written on it, in pencil, 'Please hand bearer keys of 173/177 Shaftesbury Avenue', and that underneath the words it was written 'p.p.Perry' and also the word 'Bell'. Frederick Field said that he didn't take hold of the paper and said that he read it while the man held it up for him and that after reading it he then gave the man the keys.
Frederick Field said that the Plus Four man then said to him 'I will now have a look round' and that he then left him and went off walking about the different rooms in the building. Frederick Field said that he didn’t accompany the man and that he was still inside the frame abutting the window. He said that the Plus Four man then came back about two or three minutes later and said, 'I believe this is a very nice place', and then after looking up at the lighting said, 'The lighting is all wrong and won't suit me'. Frederick Field said that he then asked, 'What are they going to open it as?' and that the Plus Four man replied, 'Fancy Leather Goods' and that he replied 'Oh'. Frederick Field said that the Plus Four man then asked him if he was busy and that he replied 'Well, no, I am not, we have been on short time'. He said that he then jokingly said to the Plus Four man 'What, are you going to have them all shifted' and that the Plus Four man replied 'Yes, I'll have to'. Frederick Field then said that he said 'What about having me doing them?' and that the Plus Four man then laughed and said 'Are you an electrician' and that he replied 'Yes, that's my real trade' and that the Plus Four man then said 'Well, you might as well have the money as anyone else, but how much do you think it would cost?' and that Frederick Field asked him 'What do you want done?' and that the Plus Four man then asked him 'What time do you finish today' and that he replied, 'I don't know for sure, as I've got another job to do'. Frederick Field said that the Plus Four man then said, 'Can you meet me when you finish, and we will talk it over?'. Frederick Field said that he replied 'No, I don't know what time I shall finish. I cannot make any arrangements'. Frederick Field said that the Plus Four man then asked him to meet him that evening and so he said, 'I could meet you about nine' and that the Plus Four man replied, 'Between nine and quarter past'. Frederick Field said that he replied 'Yes' and that the Plus Four man said 'Alright' and then he said, 'At Piccadilly Tube Station', and that the Plus Four man said, 'What part?' and that he said, 'By Regent Street North entrance' and that the man replied 'Righto'.
Frederick Field said that the Plus Four man still had the keys in his possession and that he asked him 'Shall I take the keys', and that the Plus Four man replied 'No, I am going that way to see Perry & Bells, so I'll take them with me'. Frederick Field said that during the conversation the Plus Four man asked him for his address and he said that he gave it to him and wrote it down I a little pocket diary that he had with a pencil that is usually attached to a diary. Frederick Field said that the conversation lasted between ten and fifteen minutes and that the Plus Four man then left.
Frederick Field said that he went to the place of appointment the same night and arrived at about 9.15pm and that after waiting for about five minutes the Plus Four man approached him. He said that they spoke generally about the lighting of the premises at 173 Shaftesbury Avenue and the Plus Four man asked him how much experience he had. He said that the Plus Four man then said, 'I shall want all the points re-arranged' and that he had replied 'So far as I can see it will cost a few quid' and that he then suggested that he should have a few pounds on account before commencing work and that the Plus Four man replied, 'All right'. Frederick Field said that he then asked 'Well, how do you know I will not blow you off the side with the money' and that the Plus Four man said, 'I have your address, it's all right, I know Perry & Bells'. Frederick Field then said that the Plus Four man gave him two £1 Bank of England notes in order to buy materials with which he could commence work and that he then said, 'Well what about if we have a look over the place together?' and that the Plus Four man then put his hand in his pocket and said 'Bugger it, I haven’t got the keys. Wait a minute and I'll get them'. Frederick Field said that he asked, 'What shall I do?' and that the Plus Four man said, 'You hang on here, I shall be ten minutes'. Frederick Field said the Plus Four man then went off and didn't come back. He said that he went to a nearby pub for a drink and that when he went back to the meeting place he waited there for about twenty minutes. He said that he then took a leisurely walk through Coventry Street and Leicester Square to Leicester Square Tube Station arriving just before 10.30pm where he took a train for Morden. He said that he didn't see the man again.
Later, on 1 October 1931 a workmate of Frederick Field told Frederick Field that he had been told that they were having some difficulty in getting into No. 173/177 Shaftesbury Avenue and Frederick Field told him that he had given the keys to a man that had called while he was there. The workmate, who was a senior employee reprimanded Frederick Field for handing over the keys and called the firm and was told to asked Frederick Field to see Messrs. Perry & Bell the following morning. The following morning, 2 October 1931, at about 9.30am, Frederick Field went to Messrs. Perry & Bell and saw the young lady there that had handed him the keys the previous Tuesday. She asked him where the keys were and Frederick Field told her that he had given them to a man that had the order to view. The woman told him that they hadn't given any order to view and then went into her office and brought out a book of blue forms and upon opening them asked 'Was it one of these?', and Frederick Field replied 'No'. Frederick Field was then told that someone from his firm should get into the premises as plumbers wanted to start work there, adding that after they had got in they were to inform the Porter at Lindsay Court that they had done so.
Frederick Field and his manager then went off to 173 Shaftesbury Avenue, taking an iron hammer and chisel combination with them. Frederick Field's manager decided not to force the front door and so they both walked round the rear of the premises which abutted New Compton Street and saw that there was a large smashed window there covered by a wooden door that had been fastened from the inside by nails to the sash frame and so they used the iron hammer combination and went in. On entering they walked across a room into a narrow passage and then saw the dead body of Annie Upchurch. Frederick Field's manager then sent Frederick Field off to get a policeman which he did.
After Frederick Field gave his statement he added that he would not have the slightest hesitation in recognising the Plus Four man again.
Later, on 6 October 1931, the police arrested a man that matched the description of the Plus Four man on charges of fraud at the Richmond Police station. The police went with Frederick Field to Richmond Police station and when they entered they saw a plus four suit lying on the table but Frederick Field said that it wasn't the one that he had seen the man wearing that had taken the keys from him. After Frederick Field had a chance to see the man they had arrested he immediately afterwards said to the Sergeant 'That’s the man I handed the keys to'.
When the suspected Plus Four man was questioned, he denied any knowledge whatever of the murdered girl. After being told that he answered somewhat to the description of a tall man that at 2pm on Tuesday 29 September 1931 had obtained two keys from a workman in an empty shop at Shaftesbury Avenue he said that he was quite prepared for anyone to see him at any time, without being put up for identification, as he had no knowledge of the incident whatever.
In consequence, Frederick Field was brought into see the suspected Plus Four man and the following is a precis of the conversation that took place:
Frederick Field: 'Hallo, you know me'.
Suspect Plus Four Man: 'I don't know you'.
Frederick Field: 'Yes you do, I handed you the keys of the shop at Shaftesbury Avenue last Tuesday'.
Suspect Plus Four Man: 'Not to me'.
Frederick Field: 'Yes I did'.
Suspect Plus Four Man: 'What had I got on?'.
Frederick Field: 'Your plus fours'.
Suspect Plus Four Man: 'What hat did I have, the colour?'.
Frederick Field: 'Brown. I recognise you'.
Suspect Plus Four Man: 'Never seen you before'.
Frederick Field: 'You had a cap'.
Suspect Plus Four Man: 'I've never had a cap'.
Frederick Field: 'Do you think I'm daft?'.
Suspect Plus Four Man: 'You must be'.
Frederick Field: 'Spoke to you in Shaftesbury Avenue and next in Piccadilly'.
Suspect Plus Four Man: 'I have never seen you before or talked to you'.
Frederick Field: 'You can't prove different. I take my oath I saw you'.
Suspect Plus Four Man: 'I am positive you're wrong'.
It was noted that the conversation was held rapidly between the two without the presence of a shorthand writer and that it had been impossible to take down the exact words. However, it was noted that it amounted to a definite and emphatic denial by the suspect Plus Four man of the assertions made by Frederick Field.
It was noted that the suspect Plus Four man was subsequently convicted on various charges of obtaining money by means of worthless cheques and was sentenced to a total of twelve months hard labour.
Following the identification, Frederick Field was further engaged in patrolling the West End with the police to look for the man that he had handed over the keys to. It was said that the suspect Plus Four man was aged 22, 6ft 3in, complexion medium, eyes greyish blue, hair light brown, rather long, face rather long, broad shoulders, dressed dark grey pinhead lounge suit with a double breasted waistcoat. The police said that the suspect Plus Four man had no gold tooth or gold wrist watch. It was also noted that the police found no pocket book in his belongings or the missing keys.
After the identification of the suspect Plus Four man the police noted several discrepancies in Frederick Field's statements. In his second statement, he said that he had left the front door open so that he could drag the boards out to his barrow, but he didn't mention that in his first statement. In his first statement, he had said that the Plus Four man was 6ft 1in or 2in but in his second statement after having seen the suspect he had said that he was 6ft 3in.. They also noted that in his first statement Frederick Field had said that he had heard the Plus Four man walking about the building whilst in his second statement he had said that he didn't hear him walking about.
The police also said that in one statement Frederick Field had said that he was not in the vicinity of Shaftesbury Avenue during the evening of 29 September 1931, excepting the Piccadilly end, and that he did not go any further North than Coventry Street, whilst in another statement he had said that he had gone to the pub on the corner of Great Windmill Street and Denman Street, reaching it by walking from the meeting place across the road past the 'Monico', round the corner, and about 50 yards up Shaftesbury Avenue. The police said that when the variation in the two statements was pointed out Frederick Field said that in his previous statement he had thought that the pub he had gone to was in the part of Great Windmill Street running behind the Pavilion. It was noted that the pub that he had been referring to was about 75 yards up Shaftesbury Avenue on the left-hand side, proceeding from Piccadilly.
The police later said that careful perusal of Frederick Field's four statements clearly showed that they bristled with improbabilities, almost amounting, in some instances, to impossibilities, and further with inconsistencies.
They said that it was difficult to believe that during the short time that Frederick Field had been on the premises of 173/177 Shaftesbury Avenue that anyone should conceive and execute the method of securing the keys, as stated by Frederick Field. The police also said that the description of the Plus Four man given by Frederick Field was an extraordinarily good one considering the short time that he had been in his company, especially when part of that time was at about 9.15pm when it was dark, although it was noted that the meeting place at Piccadilly was fairly well lighted.
The police also said that the details that Frederick Field had given regarding the gold tooth, the thin narrow moustache, the two-inch square pattern of the plus four suit and the gold wrist watch with leather strap, where, to say the least, difficult ones to remember by any person regarding any other person in whose company a few minutes had been spent, and more especially when the circumstances are not suspicious and did not warrant careful study of such points.
The police also said that the premises of 173/177 Shaftesbury Avenue went for £1000 per annum. The police said that it should have struck Frederick Field as being peculiar that the Plus Four man after having examined the premises should have broached the subject regarding the electric lighting installation, not knowing that Frederick Field had any knowledge of electrical work which should have been obvious when seeing Frederick Field handling notice boards. The police said that they failed to see why the Plus Four man didn't commence speaking to Frederick Field about such matters as shelves and counters etc., instead of the electric lighting installation. The police also noted that Frederick Field had said that the Plus Four man had said that he was intending to have a fancy leather goods business there, and noted that that had been the business of Frederick Field's former employers, Messrs. Blundell & Co. at 198 City Road, EC. The police also said that it seemed odd that Frederick Field had said that he could not make any arrangements for an appointment to talk over the work as he had another job to do, which was the fixing of certain signs on the premises of Max Rivers on Rupert Street, which they said that he had known that he could have finished the following day. The police also noted that even though Frederick Field had made an appointment for 9pm, which he kept, it was significant to note that he didn't examine the electric lighting installation of the premises in any way whatever before he left in the afternoon even though the matter must have been uppermost in his mind considering the fact that the appointment was arranged for the purpose of discussing the electric lighting of the premises.
It was also noted by the police that Frederick Field had stated in a statement that as far as he knew, the electric current on the premises was not on, and it therefore seemed strange that he should later say to the Plus Four man 'Well, what about if we have a look over the place together', which was at about 9.20pm, at which time Frederick Field should have known that the place would be in darkness.
The police also noted that in Frederick Field's statements he had said that from about 10pm to 10.20pm, he had remained in Leicester Street which ran into Leicester Square, which was noted as being a street that Annie Upchurch had continually patrolled for many months past when soliciting prostitution.
The police also noted that it was hard to understand why Frederick Field, with all the spare time that he had to wander around after the Plus Four man failed to show up, didn't go back to 173 Shaftesbury Avenue to see whether he had gone there. Further, the police noted that if the Plus Four man was real and that he really had obtained the keys, it must have been with an ulterior motive, and as such could not be termed a respectable person and being such, must have realised that he would have been running a grave risk in meeting Frederick Field again that evening, as, if it had been discovered that the keys were unlawfully obtained, he could have been arrested and charged with stealing them. The police said that it was even more incredible that after having stolen the keys that the Plus Four man should meet Frederick Field again and pay him the sum of £2, even though his object of stealing the keys had been attained.
The police noted that there were many other similar points, too numerous to mention, but which could be observed after careful perusal of Frederick Field's statements.
The police also noted that Frederick Field's behaviour after he had gone into the premises with the manager were suspicious. To start off with, it was said that considering that Frederick Field had been in the premises on the previous visit and knew the layout, he had let his manager go in first and followed him. It was noted that even when his manager found the body of Annie Upchurch he had stayed behind him. It was said that the only words that Frederick Field said when they found Annie Upchurch was 'What's that'. It was heard that the manager had taken some moments to appreciate the fact that he had found a dead body and that Frederick Field said nothing during that time. When the manager said he had realised he said that he said, 'Good God, it’s a girl been done in, fetch the police as quickly as you can' and that Frederick Field had remarked 'Where shall I find one?'.
It was also said that after the police arrived Frederick Field had said 'It gave me also a scare', which was after the manager had made a similar remark.
The police said that when they questioned the suspect Plus Four man he said that he had arrived in London from Bognor where he had been staying for a week on 28 September 1931. He said that he had arrived in London at 9am and had a gramophone with him and after telephoning Foyles in Charing Cross Road he went to their premises and sold it to them for 30 shillings. He said that he later booked a room at the Belmont Hotel at 108 Highbury New Park Road in Highbury. He said that he visited two or three places that day and then returned to the Belmont Hotel between 9pm and 9.30pm where he remained until 11am on 29 September 1931.
The suspect Plus Four man said that he then went to Kingsway where he met a man from Messrs. Siemens-Schukert in New Bridge Street, Ludgate Circus and gave them his visiting card. He said they had a few drinks in a hotel off Kingsway and that they then subsequently parted and he went off to the Tivoli Cinema in Strand at about 12.30pm where he saw the film The Bad Girl featuring James Dunn. He said that he left the Tivoli at 3pm and then went by bus to the Regal Dance Hall in Marble Arch where he went to a tea dance where he was known by the host and hostess. He said that he spoke to them both and then left them at 6pm and returned to the Belmont Hotel for dinner after which he stayed in the lounge where a couple of Scotsmen were playing the piano and singing Annie Laurie. He said that at 9.15pm he left the Hotel and went to the Highbury Barn Hotel and had some refreshments and then returned to the Belmont Hotel at about 9.50pm and retired for the night. He went on to similarly account for his time up until 3 October 1931 when he clandestinely left the Belmont Hotel with his luggage after cashing two worthless cheques for £3 each and went to the Richmond Hill Hotel in Richmond where he was arrested on 5 October 1931 for obtaining money by means of a worthless cheque and subsequently identified as a potential suspect in the murder of Annie Upchurch.
It was noted that he had only had 2/- when he had arrived in London from Bognor and that he had made 30 shillings selling the gramophone and had obtained £6 from the Belmont Hotel. It was said that he had also uttered a number of other worthless cheques and that when he was arrested he had a total of £10.10.0 on him. It was also noted that it was hardly conceivable that the suspect Plus Four man would have been in a position to hand Frederick Field £2 on the evening of 29 September 1931 when he had only arrived the day before with 2/- and had only gained 20 shillings since from selling the gramophone.
He had a plus four suit and said that he had worn it on the Monday 28 September 1931 with a red pullover but that on the Tuesday 29 and 30 September 1931 he had worn his grey lounge suit.
It was noted that a good number of people were able to corroborate his statement and a woman said that she had never known him to wear a cap. In particular, a waiter at the Belmont Hotel said that he clearly remembered the suspect Plus Four man leaving the Belmont Hotel at 9.45am in his dark lounge suit. He said that he later saw the suspect Plus Four man in the hotel later at about 8.30pm with the two Scotsmen at the piano and said that he had then been wearing his plus four with his red pullover.
The police concluded that Frederick Field was mistaken in his identity of the suspect Four Plus man, if such a man had in fact existed.
A third suspect was a 27-year old man that had lived in a bachelor flat at No. 40 of 2 Ryder Street, SW1 who had met Annie Upchurch on 28 September 1931 at about 8pm. in the Piccadilly Underground subway. He had said that after a short conversation they had gone back to the Garrick Grill Room in Charing Cross where they had had dinner. He said that after dinner they agreed to spend the night together and that Annie Upchurch telephoned her place to have them tidy up her room. He said that they left the Garrick Hotel at about 9.15pm and took a taxicab to his address where he left Annie Upchurch in the taxi and went to his flat to get a bottle of whisky, a double pack of playing cards and 100 cigarettes. He said that he then went back to the taxi and that they then went to 82 Warwick Street in Pimlico where he told her that he had no ready cash and hoped that the goods he had taken would recompense her for the night. He said that Annie Upchurch then showed him bills showing that she was in arrears with her rent and also told him that she owed monies totalling about £7 or £8. He said that he then said that he could give her a cheque if she could give him some paper and he wrote her a cheque on his bank for £10. He said that he remained with her until about 7am on the Tuesday 29 September 1931. It was noted that the cheque bounced. He was criticised by the Coroner for writing her a cheque when he didn't have the funds but he said that he thought that the cheque would be met as he was expecting some money from the sale of his house in Birmingham. However, the property didn't reach its reserve price and its sale was withdrawn on 29 September 1931.
The man said that whilst he was at 82 Warwick Street he didn't see anyone else but did hear voices. However, he said that whilst he was dozing in an armchair he saw a man standing at the head of the bed which Annie Upchurch was lying on and heard him say to her 'Is this man OK' and that he then heard Annie Upchurch say 'Yes'. He said that the man then disappeared but said that he was unable to say how and said that he thought there was a partition at the back of the bed. However, he added that he was not sure if it had not been a vision noting that he had psychic experiences. When the police examined the room, the landlady told them that the partition had not been opened in 18 months and that it was not possible to open it. The police then concluded that the vision of the man must have been his imagination.
He said that when he left he left the playing cards and the cigarettes and went back to his flat arriving at about 8.20am. He said that he stayed there until about 5pm and that he then went out and met his former secretary in the Grande Arcade on the corner of Northumberland Avenue and the Strand at 6pm and that he then accompanied his former secretary to Waterloo Station where he saw her off by a train at 7pm for Ashford. He said that he then went to Piccadilly by tube and walked about the vicinity and then went to the Garrick Hotel and had supper. He said then that at 8.45pm on 29 September 1931 he was standing in Leicester Street listening to a religious meeting when he saw Annie Upchurch between Leicester Street and Wardour Street where the girls patrolled and then after five minutes he saw her again at the top of Leicester Street talking to another girl. He said that he was positive that he didn't speak to her that evening and said that he didn't see her since. He said that he then went back to his flat at about 9pm, wrote some letters and then went to bed.
He similarly accounted for his time up until 3 October 1931 when he read in the Daily Mail newspaper that a girl had been found murdered in some premises on Shaftsbury Avenue. The police said that they were able to corroborate most of his statements.
It was heard that Annie Upchurch had gone into a bank and presented the cheque for £10, however, it was found that the account had been dormant for some time to the extent of no credit at all, and the cheque was returned to her marked 'Refer to Drawer', and she was informed that there was no money to meet it.
The police noted that, on reflection, it would appear that the man had a motive to murder Annie Upchurch, namely that she was in possession of a worthless cheque drawn by him, but said that otherwise there was no a tittle of evidence which would connect him with the actual crime. They did note that of all the witness statements, his was probably the last to have actually seen Annie Upchurch alive at 8.45pm on 29 September 1931 in Lisle Street which was a thoroughfare continually frequented by Annie Upchurch. It was also noted that the man had said that he had been in the same street that Frederick Field had said he had been in at 10pm but nothing could be found to associate them and that when Frederick Field was given a chance to identify the man he had failed to do so.
Another suspect was Annie Upchurch's former boyfriend who was traced to the RAF base in Hampshire. He was said to have moved in to 82 Warwick Street, Pimlico on 4 March 1930 with Annie Upchurch as her husband. He was said to have visited her at the weekends up to Christmas 1930 when he stayed for about a week during which it was said that Annie Upchurch had left him and gone off leaving him to spend the rest of his leave alone. It was said that from March 1930 to Christmas 1930 Annie Upchurch had had no male visitors other than some of her boyfriend’s sailor friends. However, it was heard that her boyfriend was unhappy at being left alone and became uninterested in her after, although he was said to have visited 82 Warwick Street since but only to see other people that lived there.
The police report stated that Annie Upchurch had left 81 Warwick Street at about 11am saying that she was going to Barclay's Bank to cash a cheque and that she would phone if it was all right. The landlady said that Annie Upchurch called between 12 noon and 1pm and said that everything was alright and that she would be able to square her debts. Her landlady said that her debts were £5.10.0 for rent and about £8 respecting articles of clothing that had been purchased from Messrs. Blundell & Co. in her name with her permission. The police said that it was not known why Annie Upchurch had told her landlady why the cheque had been met when it had not.
The landlady said that when Annie Upchurch had left she had been wearing her green costume and had taken her handbag which was not discovered. The police said that the landlady had been with Annie Upchurch when she had bought it at Blundell’s and went with them to identify the exact type that she had bought. The police never found her handbag or the missing keys.
At the time that she was murdered Annie Upchurch was engaged to a sailor in Chatham. He said that he had met her on 4 July 1931 at a dance in Chatham and that he used to see her when she came to Chatham and then later he also spent time with her in London. He said that on the first two or three occasions he said that he stayed at the Union Jack Club in Waterloo Road and then later stayed at 82 Warwick Street two or three times. He said that Annie Upchurch was last with him in Chatham from 4pm 23 September 1931 to Saturday 26 September 1931 when they returned to London and went to 82 Warwick Street. He said that in the day he took an omnibus to the West End and went for a swim in the Great Smith Street Baths. He said that he later saw Annie Upchurch by appointment at 5pm at Leicester Square Tube Station and that they went and had some food and afterwards went back to 82 Warwick Street where he stayed with her until 11.30pm reading books and eating fruit. He said that he then left her and went to the Union Jack Club and never saw Annie Upchurch again. He said that Annie Upchurch told him that she couldn't see him on the Sunday as she was going to a hospital to see a sailor who had met with a motor cycling accident and had had his foot cut off. However, it was heard that the landlady had said that a man with a Jewish voice had called Annie Upchurch several times by telephone at 82 Warwick Street and that he had wanted to meet her on the Sunday and that it was thought that that was what she had done as she didn't go to the hospital.
Her boyfriend said that he spent the Sunday with his married sister and returned at 6.15pm when he tried to call Annie Upchurch but said that she was not in. He said that after that he went back to the Union Jack Club and then on the Monday morning he left London on the 6.05am train for Chatham where he arrived at 7.20am. However, it was later revealed that he had returned to London on the Wednesday and Thursday after leaving Chatham at about 4.30pm on 30 September 1931. He arrived at Lupus Street, Victoria between 6pm and 6.30pm and then walked directly to Warwick Street where he kept observation on No. 82 for about an hour. He said that he then went and bought some apples and then went back to keep observation until 8pm when he went to a pub for a refreshment. He said that he went back to Warwick Street at about 8.30pm and continued observation until 10pm after which he went back to the Union Jack Club which he reached at 10.45pm and booked a room in his own name. He said that he then went back to Chatham on 1 October 1931 on the 5.05am train. Later, he went back to London on the train and carried out the exact same observation the following day. He said that the reason for going to London on the two days was because he had become suspicious about what Annie Upchurch had been doing in the evenings and had hoped to find out. He said that during his observation he had not seen Annie Upchurch leave or enter or even seen a light on in her bedroom.
The police said that they were unable to find anyone that could say that he was in Chatham Barracks on the nights that he had said he had been in London but that they were unable to find his name on the register at the Union Jack Club. However, they noted that there were 800 beds there, of which 500 were in use each night and that as his name was a common one the registrar might have put down something else. The police report described him as somewhat of an enigma but stated that in the absence of further information they would not be justified in placing too much suspicion towards him. The police report stated that if Annie Upchurch had been found in an open place then he would have been a suspect as jealousy was a serious motive, but they said that they could find no evidence linking him to Frederick Field.
The police also had a list of minor suspects which included people that had been with Annie Upchurch before and people that were known frequent users of prostitutes.
The police report stated that they traced all known ponces and took their statements with no developments. They said that they also followed certain statements suggesting that Annie Upchurch had a ponce but expressed the opinion that she didn't.
The police also followed up statements that suggested that 173/177 Shaftesbury Avenue was being used as a brothel but said they found no evidence of that.
The police stated that their enquires indicated that Annie Upchurch was extremely fond of the company of sailors and that she had many sailor friends, several of them stationed in Chatham and Portsmouth.
Her post-mortem stated that her death was asphyxia due to strangulation by a ligature around the neck.
It was also heard that Annie Upchurch was subject to fainting and that she had previously fallen to the ground on a steamer during a sea-trip and that whilst at the Empire Cinema she had 'Flopped right out'. As such, it was suggested that when she was attacked at 173/177 Shaftesbury Avenue she might had fainted, the significance being that there were no digit marks on her neck indicating that any other attempt had been made to strangle her and that if she had fainted her attacker would have been able to put the belt around her neck without interference.
Frederick Field later confessed to murdering Annie Upchurch on 25 June 1933 and was tried in September 1933. However, he retracted his statement and said that he had only confessed in order to establish his innocence. After being acquitted on 21 September 1931 he said 'I am satisfied now that I have cleared my name. My future plans are indefinite, but I hope to start life again without the finger of suspicion pointing at me'. At his trial, the judge asked Frederick Field if he was guilty and he said 'No'. The judge asked if it was possible to convict Frederick Field on the evidence and was told that it was not. It was said that the only evidence against him was his own statement and that it was obvious that he was a liar. The judge asked him if he wanted to be arrested and put on trial and he said that he did. Frederick Field said 'I wanted the whole thing cleared up properly. People said, 'This man has done it'. I could not turn round and say 'I have been proved innocent''. The judge said to him 'It is a peculiar way of proving your innocence by saying you are guilty'. Frederick Field then said, 'It was the only way, properly'. It was heard that Frederick Field had gone into a newspaper office in the hope of getting money so that he could get his wife out of London. He said that the newspaper were going to pay him to surrender himself but he didn't get any money and the newspaper communicated with the police and with a member of their staff he then went to a police station.
However, on 4 April 1936 he murdered Beatrice Vilna Sutton in Clapham saying that he wanted to know what it was like to murder someone. He retracted his confession but he had said too much about the details that only the killer would know and was convicted and sentenced to death. He was executed on 30 June 1936.
The murder of Annie Upchurch remains unsolved.
see National Archives - MEPO 3/1669
see Portsmouth Evening News - Thursday 19 November 1931
see Western Morning News - Friday 27 November 1931