Unsolved Murders

Child

Age: newborn

Sex: female

Date: 2 Apr 1901

Place: Cheltenham Station

Source: www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk

A female child was found done to death in the lavatory of Cheltenham Station.

The body of the infant was found in a paper parcel in a cupboard in the third class lavatory at the Great Western Railway Station on the Friday.

A widow who lived on St Georges Street who was an attendant at the waiting rooms of the GWR station said that at about 2pm on the Friday 29 March 1901 she went into the third class lavatory and saw in the cupboard under the wash basin a brown paper parcel.

She said that she moved it and thought it was a parcel of meat which someone had left and would call for later and so put the parcel back in the cupboard until 8pm and then when another woman came to help her clean up she took the parcel out of the cupboard and called her to see it. She said that she told her that the parcel had been there all afternoon and the other woman said, 'suppose it should be a babby' and she undid on end of the parcel and cried, 'So it is!'. The attendant said that she was surprised to see the head of a child and fetched the foreman porter who took the parcel into the stationmasters office. She said that she usually went to work at 6am but didn't look in the cupboard then and was not in the waiting room for long as she had to attend to the first class lavatory. She said that she didn't notice anyone going into the room with a parcel that day and added that ladies were frequently going into the room with parcels.

The other woman who lived on Park Street said that she cleaned out the waiting rooms every morning and at 7.15pm she had gone to the cupboard and again at 9am and said that there was no parcel then. She said that she later returned at 7pm but didn't look in the cupboard and was then called over by the other attendant at 8pm who said, 'I want to show you something', and took out the parcel from the cupboard. She said that she said, 'Suppose it's a baby and that the attendant then suggested opening it and she took the string off of one end of the parcel and disclosed to view the head of a baby. She also said that she hadn't seen anyone going in with a parcel.

The Foreman went to the police station at 8.20pm and the police went to the station to see the body which they found in a brown paper parcel. Inside they found the naked body of a newly born female child which was enclosed in a piece of white wrapping paper stained with blood. The brown paper was glazed and tied with ordinary twine. The Policeman then took the body to the Police Station where a Doctor examined the body the following morning.

Enquiries were made into who had placed the parcel in the cupboard but railway officials stated that there were an unusual number of females at the station on the Friday in consequence of the Domestic Exhibition at the Winter Garden that day and were unable to give any information to assist the enquiry. The doctor said that the baby was a mature and fully developed child and that she had been born within 36 hours of its being found and that the cord had been severed by some sharp instrument. He also said that she had not been washed or attended in any way.

On more closely examining the head he found over the left frontal bone a depression indicating a fracture and on removing the scalp found two spots, one on each side of the head. The spot to the right was the size of a two shilling piece and the other one was the size of a five shilling piece. He found over the left frontal bone there was an extensive effusion of blood with fracture of the bone and that when he opened the skull he found that the left frontal bone was split into three pieces and that there was a considerable amount of effusion over the brain. He said that the injuries must have been caused by direct violence and that the facts pointed to a blow having been made with some blunt instrument, adding that he did not think that the injuries were caused by the act of birth as the cord was not torn. He said that all the other organs were healthy and the lungs were inflated which showed that the child had breathed freely and had had an independent existence.

He also said that the fact that there was such an effusion of blood showed that the injury must have been sustained while the blood was in circulation and that it was his opinion that the cause of death was apoplexy from an effusion of blood on the brain caused by violence.

The Coroner said that the evidence left the jury no alternative but to return a verdict of wilful murder against some person or persons unknown.


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


see Dundee Evening Post - Tuesday 02 April 1901

see Cheltenham Chronicle - Saturday 06 April 1901