Date: 28 Jul 1926
Edward Austin Creed was killed in the shop he managed at 36 Leinster Terrace in Bayswater on the evening of 28 July 1926.
He had managed the shop for about twenty years. The shop was a provision merchants and game dealers owned by Messrs. Lowry and Co. and was at the corner of Leinster Terrace and Craven Hill Gardens at Lancaster Gate. It was a lock-up shop on the ground floor and basement only.
He had been hit twice over the head.
At first it was thought that two men had been responsible but it was later thought that he had been killed by one man that he had known. The police thought that he had known his killer and had let him into his shop and had preceded him into the interior where he was then hit on the back of the head and then when he fell down he was hit twice more to ensure that he was dead and then later dragged to the stairs.
Following the theory that he had been killed by two men, two suits of old clothes that were found discarded by two men that had matched the descriptions of the two men seen in the vicinity of his shop near the time were examined. The suits were found at the Birmingham Baths where two men were said to have been seen changing out of them. The police said that they were also trying to identify where they and bought their new clothes. Of the two men, one, who was taller, was said to have walked with a jerk in the right leg that was not to be confused with a limp. The motion was described as not a limp but a curious spring which seemed to emanate from the right kneecap, being quite distinct from a limp.
There were a wide range of other theories and a lot of people wrote anonymous letters to the police or reported people that they were thought to be suspicious. In all a good number of people were considered suspects and questioned.
Edward Creed was found at around 10.30pm after a neighbouring chemist noticed a strong smell of escaping gas and informed the police. When the police arrived they found that that padlock was missing from the door and there was a light coming from the front part of the basement. The police then went to the small window in the Craven Hill Gardens side of the shop level with the pavement which gave light to the basement and were able to slide it open and with the light from and electric lamp saw a pair of feet. Then, with the help of a passing GPO mail van driver they forced open the shop door and went in and found Edward Creed dead on the cellar stairs.
In the back cellar the police found three gas jets and a gas ring turned on and unlighted and in the front cellar they found two other jets turned on under a gas copper, which they turned off.
The police report stated that upon their arrival at 11.30pm they saw two large patches of blood on the floor of the shop about four feet from the entrance. There were also splashes of blood on the panels of a side counter on the right hand side of the shop. On a nearby tradesman's tricycle they found spots of blood on the framework near the pedals along with some hairs adhering to it. They said that leading from the splashes of blood were marks in the sawdust on the floor as though something had been dragged across it and there was a smear of blood leading to a large patch of blood on the floor on the right hand side of the doorway leading to an office at the rear of the shop.
On the left of the office there was a staircase leading down to two basement cellars and on the stairs they found the body of Edward Creed lying on his back. His head was inclined to the left and resting on the fifth stair from the top, and his feet extended to the third stair from the bottom. There were thirteen stairs in the staircase. His face and head were covered in blood. There were two wounds at the back of his head and a quantity of blood on the fifth and sixth stairs. There were also blood splashes on the wall on the right side of the staircase.
Near his head there was an old chamois leather left handed glove and also a brown coloured coat button. Another similar left handed glove was found on a low shelf which was over the top of the stairs which was bloodstained.
The office door was open as was the safe which had not been forced. The right hand drawer was out and standing on its end behind the office door. There were a number of cheques and other papers scattered on the floor in front of the safe from which it was ascertained that £51 14s 8.5d was missing. The amount was made up of one £5 Bank of England note with the remainder made up of treasury notes.
The motive was given as robbery as the shop safe was found open, which was said to have been opened with the manager's keys. The keys were found on the office desk and further to the left there was a National cash register till facing the shop from where it was operated. It was closed and no the floor they found a sixpence and a farthing.
It was thought that the gas had been turned on with the objective of causing an explosion to destroy any clues that might have been left behind.
The shop was searched for a weapon but none was found. The police also searched for fingerprints but found none.
The shop staff consisted of the book-keeper, a poultry man, a counter hand, two order boys, and a shop assistant, all of whom other than the shop assistant left shortly after 7pm on 28 July 1926 and none of whom saw anyone acting suspiciously outside when they left.
The shop blinds and door shutters had been put in place by the order boys before they left.
The shop assistant left at 7.10pm after placing a bowl of water in the sink in the back cellar and a clean towel on a stair rail ready for Edward Creed who usually washed before leaving business. He was then let out by Edward Creed through the shop door. He said that Edward Creed was in his shirt sleeves at the time.
The doors of the shop were fastened by means of a Yale lock, two bolts and an outside padlock, that latter of which Edward Creed would usually put on as he was always the last to leave. The padlock was later found in its usual place in the corner of the right hand counter just inside the door.
It was first thought that after the shop assistant had left someone had come to the shop while Edward Creed was washing and found the door open and had gained admittance by subterfuge, closing the door behind them, and then immediately struck Edward Creed blows on the head which had felled him and rendered him unconscious. It was then thought that his body was then dragged along the shop floor to the doorway leading to the office where the large patch of blood was found. It was then said that the perpetrators of the crime then probably ransacked the safe and then afterwards pulled the body on to the stairs and turned on the gas jets in the cellar and then let themselves out of the shop door closing it behind them.
However, the police later said that they thought that Edward Creed had known his killer and had let him in.
A house to house enquiry was carried out along Leinster Terrace, Leinster Gardens and Craven Hill, however, no information could be found to shed light on the crime. Member's of the CID also searched various districts frequented by local thieves around Paddington, Marylebone, Notting Hill and Notting Dale and a considerable number of local suspects were brought to Paddington Green Police Station for questioning but in each case they were all released after their statements had been verified.
On 3 August 1926 a list of former employees of Messrs. Lowry and Co. was supplied by the company bookkeeper who herself at the time of the murder had been away from business on holiday. However, of the employees traced, none were able to shed light on the matter.
On the morning of 4 August 1926 the police received an anonymous letter addressed to the Inspector at the Criminal Investigation Dept., Scotland Yard, London, SW1 and headed 'Important' 'Urgent', and postmarked Notting Hill, W11, 8.30pm 4 August 1926. The letter read :
If you make the offer of a reward of £100 or more through the papers and promise me police protection I will tell you where to find and who the two murderers are in the shop murder case. If you keep to Notting Hill you are not far wrong. They know I know so I am frightened to do anything but write.'
In response to the letter the police wrote an announcement in the Evening papers of 5 August and the morning papers of 6 August asking for the writer to again communicate with the Chief Constable and make an appointment with him adding that the terms of his anonymous communication would be kept. However, nothing was heard again until 7 August 1926 when the police received another letter saying:
I shall try to see you on Sunday. I am afraid to move as I am being watched I think. I am afraid to go and get a stamp so must post this without. If I ring you up and give a name you will know who it is wanting you'.
However, the writer didn’t communicate with the Chief Constable on the Sunday and on the 9 August a further appeal was put in the papers requesting that he communicate. Later on 13 August at the inquest the Coroner adjourned the inquest until 1 September 1926 in order that information given out didn't give the case away to any criminal through its revelations. He added that the police had received anonymous letters from a certain person who had professed to being able to give very important information in the case, noting that the police had received three letters. He also said that he would like to point out to the individual that he or she owed a public duty to his country and to justice in the case of a callous and brutal murder, to come forward and state definitely what he or she knew.
The appeal by the Coroner proved fruitless and on 12 August the police inserted in the press a further notice stating that if the writer of the anonymous letters failed to communicate with the Chief Constable by midday on 14 August 1926 then they would be reluctantly compelled to publish specimens of his handwriting. However, the appeal was ignored and on 14 August photographic reproductions of the two envelopes were handed to the press and appeared in various newspapers on the 14, 15 and 16 August 1926. The result was that the police then received a large number of letters from various persons suggesting that they knew the identity of the anonymous letter writer. However, they were all enquired into with negative result.
During their investigations the police questioned a number of known criminals and suspects. One man who they questioned on 11 August said that he had seen a man leaving 36 Leinster Terrace at about 7.15pm on 28 July and at the same time said a woman rushed out of the shop screaming 'They are murdering a man in there' and 'Police'. However, the police came to the conclusion that he was weak minded and unreliable. However, as a result of that statement the police did interview two other known criminals but they too were let go.
During the course of the police enquiries it was determined that three known criminals had gone missing from the district and although they were unable to determine that they had been near the shop at the time, considerable suspicion was attached to them because they had been previously convicted of crimes of violence and their associates believed them to be concerned in the commission of the shop murder. Exhaustive enquiries were made throughout London without success and then enquiries were extended to the home counties the results of which included information that three person had been seen in St. Albans and on 14 August an inspector, sergeant and a police constable made enquiries with the local police there but failed to trace them. However, whilst they were making those enquiries they received information that a parcel had been dispatched by one of the suspects fathers to the Luton General Post Office and so they contacted the Luton Police by telephone and officers of that Force kept observation at the Post Office and enquiries were made in the town to trace them. As a result they found that three people had stayed at the common lodging house at 19 Burr Street in Luton from 19 July to 3 August 1926. The police then went to the lodging house and spoke to several people and were able to say after speaking to the keepers of the lodging house that the three people had stayed there on the night of 28 July 1926. However, in spite of that the police continued their enquiries and on 18 August two of the three people were traced to a house at 27 Brindlay Street in Harrow. They were then taken to Paddington Green Police Station and interrogated but it was determined that they were in no way connected to the crime. They were however suspected of committing a larceny at a property on Westbourne Terrace in Paddington on 16 July 1926 which they admitted to and were placed on remand on that charge. As a result the police did not continue to pursue their enquiries for the third person.
On 17 August 1926 a woman from Colville Terrace in Bayswater reported to the police that she had found a pair of bloodstained trousers in a room that had formerly been occupied by a man and his wife who had left on 11 August 1926. The trousers were taken into possession of by the police and were found to be extensively blood stained. Enquiries were made to trace the man and his wife and it was found that they had gone to the hop fields of Kent to obtain employment. In view of that the police went to Farningham and other places to endeavour to trace them and on 20 August 1926 they were located near Maidstone and conveyed back to London where they were interviewed. The man said that he had cut his thumb whilst splitting wood with a pocket knife some weeks before leaving Colville Terrace and in doing so it had bled freely and that as he had had nothing with which to bind it up until his wife had obtained a bandage from the next door neighbour, he had let the blood drip on an old pair of trousers which were at the foot of the bed near where he was sitting when he had met with the injury. A policeman examined his hand and found that he had a partly healed wound on his left thumb which was about five or six weeks old and that it was sufficiently severe to have accounted for blood on the trousers and it was determined that he could not have been in any way connected with the murder.
On 13 August 1926 a statement was taken from a 25-year-old kitchen maid who was employed at 22 Craven Hill Gardens in which she had mentioned some names but had said that she had no reason for associating them with the murder. However, on 24 August 1926 the police received another anonymous letter stating that a woman of the same name or alias as the maid who lived in the vicinity of Leinster Terrace had 'confessed to having taken part in the crime'. The author of the anonymous letter also stated that the maid was the author of the previous two anonymous letters referred to in the press. The following day the police received another letter giving the address of the maid. When the police went to see the maid she admitted having talked to several persons about the murder adding that some of them she thought she knew had committed it. When asked who she was referring to she gave three names of people that she had mentioned in her earlier statement. However, it was seen from her earlier statement that the names of the people were the people that she had quarrelled and fought with just after the date of the murder and it was thought that that was the source of her animus against them. However, the three people were brought to Paddington Green Police Station where they were interrogated and gave statements, but it was considered they could satisfactorily accounted for their movements for the night of 28 July 1926.
They police made diligent enquiries with a view to trace any person likely to bear animosity against Edward Creed but as far as they could ascertain he was on the best of terms with everyone with whom he came in contact. However, they did identify some local flower sellers who appeared to constantly cause Edward Creed and other tradesmen in the vicinity considerable annoyance and it was found that he had had words with some of them and that on in particular had threatened him. The flower seller that was alleged to have threatened Edward Creed was brought in for questioning and whilst he admitted to being in the vicinity of Leinster Terrace until 5pm on 28 July 1926 he said that he had then left at that time and proceeded to the Warrington hotel in Maida Vale where he had remained for the whole evening. He also denied ever threatening Edward Creed.
The police also made special enquiries throughout the metropolis to trace any cabmen who may have picked up or set down fares in the district during the evening of 28 July and as a consequence they interviewed a taxi cab driver who lived on Mann Street in Walworth who said that just after 8pm on 28 July 1926 he had been at the cab rank at Queens Gardens, about 80 yards from Leinster Terrace. He said that a man came out of 36 Leinster Terrace and hurried to his cab and jumped in and directed him to drive down Queens Gardens, Devonshire Terrace and then to Sutherland Avenue in Maida Vale where he had hurriedly left and walked off down Sutherland Avenue. The taxi cab driver said that the man was about 30 years old, nearly 6' in height, clean shaven, very fair, had a slim build, a dress grey suit and had been wearing a black trilby hat. However, the police noted that they had found that taxi cab driver had told different stories to other people including saying that there had been two men and that one had got into cab and the other into a cab behind him. That fact cast doubt on the veracity of his story and although there were supposed to be four other cabs at the rank at the time they were unable to find them and corroborate it. They were also unable to trace the man referred to.
Another cabman that the police questioned said that he had taken two men to Leinster Terrace at about 7pm who he had picked up outside St. Thomas' Hospital. However, after he had made his statement the police questioned him closely and found that he was unable to determine whether he had driven the men there on 27th, 28th or 29th July. He said that the first he had heard of the murder was on 1 August 1926 and admitted that he had been drinking quite heavily and that his memory was not too reliable and the police determined that his statement could not be relied upon.
On 19 August 1927 the police interviewed a woman chef who said that at about 8.39pm on 28 July she had left her place of employment at 11 Porchester Terrace, and noticed two men standing at the junction of Craven Hill Gardens and Porchester Terrace about 50 yards from 36 Leinster Terrace. She described the first man as about 30 to 35 years of age, 5'10'' tall, with a fresh complexion, clean shaven, blue eyes, slim build and dressed in grey and of a respectable manner. She said that the second man about 45 years of age, 5'7'' tall with a fresh complexion, large eyes, dressed in a dark blue suit and with a peak cap similar to a motor driver's uniform. She said that her attention was drawn to them because of the manner in which the man in grey was looking at the other and said that she noticed that the man in the blue suit had a large white patch on his left hip and that he was carrying a bunch of flowers that he repeatedly put to his face. She said that the man was unsteady of gait and that she thought that he had been drinking. She said that she had been in the street waiting for her two daughters aged 20 and 12 and another 14-year-old girl. The three girls were also questioned and had said that they had noticed the man in the blue suit and in particular the fact that he had what appeared to be whitewash on his suit and that one of the girls said that he also appeared to have had sawdust on the back of his jacket. They said that it was impossible to say whether the men were together as they didn't see them speak. They said that the man in the blue suit went off through Queensborough Passage into Queensborough Terrace and that the last that was seen of the man in the grey suit was at the junction of Craven Hill Gardens and Porchester Terrace.
The police noted that if the statements of the girls were reliable then they were important because it was almost certain that a person dragging Edward Creed on to the stairs would have brought his clothing into contact with a whitewashed wall and moreover because there was sawdust on the floors of the shop and the cellar.
It was noted that the police traced a motor driver who had previously worked for the shop had left in 1917. Edward Creed's wife said that about a fortnight before his murder Edward Creed had told her that a former employee who had left ten years earlier had come to see him and had asked him for a reference. Edward Creed had told his wife 'you know, the tall boy who used to come for my dinner'. Edward Creed's wife said that she could not remember him and that Edward Creed didn't mention the man's name. Edward Creed's wife said that Edward Creed said 'It is funny that he should come back after all these years. Of course I did not give him a reference'. The man was later located and found to have been in employment as a chauffeur for the previous six months elsewhere and was discounted from the investigation.
The police said that it was known that Edward Creed called at various pubic houses on his way home from his business but that they were all visited and no information of any value could be obtained from them.
The police also investigated the book-keeper who was married but living apart from her husband with another man. The police noted that it had been suggested that Edward Creed and the book-keeper had been on more friendly terms than their business association warranted and stated that having that in mind the motive could have been passion instead of robbery. However, she said that she had been at home all evening from 6.30pm which was corroborated by the man that she was living with.
It was also noted that two gloves found in the shop had not been identified even though photographs of them had been published in the press.
The murder of Edward Creed was never solved.
see Evening Telegraph - Thursday 12 August 1926
see Gloucester Citizen - Wednesday 01 September 1926
see Lancashire Evening Post - Thursday 12 August 1926
see Dundee Evening Telegraph - Thursday 12 August 1926
see National Archives - MEPO 3/1623A