Date: 20 Sep 1956
Jean Beatrice Chalinder was found battered to death in a ditch by a field on Thursday 20 September 1956 near Birchgrove Wood in Llanedeyrn with head injuries.
She was last seen alive at 3.15pm on Saturday 15 September 1956 in Albany Road in Cardiff at which time she had been wearing a red raincoat and riding a lady's bicycle.
It was said that Jean Chalinder had gone out to pick blackberries on her bicycle which was later found where she had left it locked up. At the time she had only been married for three-months and had lived in Southminster Road, Roath, Cardiff.
It was later determined that she had been struck between a 12 and 20 times with a sharp instrument. When she was found she was fully clothed but her shoes were off. It was later suggested that the murder weapon might have been a bill hook.
Her body was found in a 2ft ditch by a bramble hedge in a field about a quarter of a mile from Llanedeyrn Road. The field had been part of Llwyn-y-Grant Farm. She was found by a 23-year-old hospital secretary as she was out picking blackberries. Jean Chalinder's plastic bag that she had been using to collect her blackberries was found a few yards away from her body. The police later noted that if the hospital secretary had not have gone out collecting blackberries when she did that Jean Chalinder might have remained in the ditch for weeks before she was discovered.
It was thought that she had gone along the Llanedeyrn Road on her bicycle to Peggy Giles fields which was noted as being a popular blackberry picking spot and had then gone through the gate there with her bicycle about 20 yards and locked it up. It was thought that she had then gone along hedge picking blackberries for about 150 yards and had then gone through another gate into an adjacent field and walked along towards Birchgrove Wood to the place where it was thought that she had been attacked.
It was noted that the nearest house to the location where Jean Chalinder was found was two miles away and that it was unoccupied and the police said that they had been unable to find anyone that had heard anything such as a scream.
After the hospital secretary found her body she informed the police and it was noted that because of the specific location, 150 yards over the city border, that the Glamorgan police were called in instead of the Cardiff police. It was also noted that the police later called in Scotland Yard as well.
The general timeline of certain events in the case is as follows:
Over 6,000 people were interviewed by the police in their search for her murderer.
A police detective said, 'I have made investigations into the background of Mrs Chalinder and I can say she was a quiet, inoffensive woman of the highest moral character'. They also said that they could determine no motive for her murder.
Jean Chalinder was described as:
It was also reported on 24 September 1956 that a youth had been seen near the crime seen around the time. The police said, 'We are still looking for him' and described his as:
The police said that they did not think that he was a local man.
It was reported on Thursday 27 September 1956 that a man's bloodstained clothing was found in bushes and fields by police dogs near to the spot where Jean Chalinder's was body was found.
It was also stated by the police that they also knew the owner of more bloodstained clothing that had been sent to a cleaners and said that all the clothing found was being examined at the Home Office Forensic Science Laboratory at Llanishen.
The police added at that time that they were confident about the way that the investigation was proceeding, noting that two more farming implements had been found along with some other farming implements that were found on the Tuesday 25 September 1956 and that they were all also being examined for bloodstains.
The police also later drained part of the Rhymney river nearby in a search for clues but without success. On 15 October 1956 it was also reported that the water at Penylan Quarry, about a quarter of a mile from the murder scene was drained in the hope of finding the 'heavy, sharp instrument' that was believed to have been used to kill Jean Chalinder. The water was drained by members of the Glamorgan Fire Service using pumps, pumping it into nearby drains after which detectives searched the bottom of the pond.
Following their initial investigations the police said that they were looking to trace the movements of a dark-haired man that was seen over the following weekend within a few hundred yards of where her body was found. The man's movements were reported to the police by the occupants of Llwyn-y-Grant Farm in Llanedeyrn, the back which was only 200 yards through the wood to the ditch. The police said that they were looking to trace the man and said, 'We shall hunt for this man until we find him or until the reports are disproved'. I was said that at about 9pm on the night of Sunday 23 September 1956 that a 17-year-old married woman and her 18-year-old husband had been sat in the kitchen of their farmhouse with a relatives two children when the woman said she saw a man peer through her window.
She said, 'Suddenly I thought I saw a man looking through the window. He saw me and the children, but he could not see my husband who was sitting beside the window. He must have thought I was alone with the children. I told my husband and we put the light on in the adjoining room'. Her husband said that he then lit a lantern and went out into the yard to get some wood. He said, 'My wife was very frightened. I held up the lantern, and I saw a man standing by the gate of the farmyard. I went closer and lifted the lantern high to have a good glimpse of him, but as I went towards him he ran into the direction of the woods'. He was also reported as having said, 'I saw a man standing near the hayrick. He could only have been about six yards away. THe lantern does not throw out a good beam of light and the man turned and ran away before I had a chance to take a good look at him'. He said that they did not chase the prowler because there was no-one else in the farmhouse to look after the two younger children there.
The woman added that she was sure that the man that she saw was the same man that she had seen by the farmyard gate on the Saturday afternoon. It was additionally noted that as the man's movements were being observed by the family that the police were searching a few hundred yards away on the other side of the wood for the weapon used to kill Jean Chalinder.
They described the man as being about 5ft 11in tall and having worn a darkish grey suit.
When they described the man that they had seen on the Saturday near the farm gate they said that he was a tall man, about 5ft 11in and had not been wearing an overcoat or hat. They said that he had black bushy hair and that when they first saw him they thought that he might have been one of the police detectives but said that when he was spotted that he moved away quite quickly. The man said, 'I went after him, but failed to find him'.
During the investigation appeals for information were made at over 100 cinemas around South Wales. The cinemas, which were in Glamorganshire and Monmouthshire, said, 'On Thursday, September 20 1956, the body of Mrs Jean Beatrice Chalinder aged 33, of Cardiff, was found near Birchgrove Wood, Llanedeyrn, near Cardiff, with head injuries. She was last seen alive at 3.15pm on Saturday, September 12, in Albany Road, Cardiff, wearing a red raincoat and riding a lady's bicycle. Anyone who can give any information regarding her movements on Saturday, September 15, or who was in the vicinity of Birchgrove Wood that day and who can give any information, please communicate with the Chief Constable of Glamorgan'.
On 16 October 1956 it was reported that two people had come forward to say that they recalled seeing a young man 'cycling furiously' away from the field where Jean Chalinder was murdered. The description of the man was given as being:
The bicycle he was said to have been wearing had upturned handlebars and appeared to have been too small for him and he was said to have fled hurriedly off, turning into Llanedeyrn Road and pedalling off towards Cyncoed Road.
On 16 Octoner 1956 the police noted that they thought that important information regarding Jean Chalinder's murder was being withheld.
On 14 November 1956 it was reported that evening church services at the parish church in Llanedeyrn were stopped after local women who had previously attended regularly had become afraid to leave their isolate and scattered cottages and farmhouses to walk there along the unlit lanes for fear that the murderer might strike again. The Reverand of the church said that he was stopping the Sunday evening services until Easter, saying, 'This year the position was made much worse by the murder and some women expressed their uneasiness at coming to church during the darker nights. We had a meeting and decided to hold morning services only'.
It as also reported at the same time that the police had received reported of a man buying a billhook from a second hand shop. They said that they didn't know the man's name and were trying to trace him, and another man that was seen in a wood near Countisbury Road in Rumney with a billhook at the time. The police said that they had received reports that a man had bought the billhook from a second-hand dealer in Cowbridge Road, Canton in Cardiff for 3s. They said, 'Although the tool was sold as a billhook, it was in fact a slightly curved billhook, or sickle, with a blade one and a half inches wide and about 12 inches long. Another man of similar description, who has not come forward, was seen on the day of the murder in a wood near Countisbury Road, Rumney, with a billhook. We are anxious to trace both men, who may be able to give information'.
Jean Chalinder's inquest, which was held on Friday 18 January 1957 returned a verdict of murder by some person or persons unknown.
On 27 June 1957 it was reported that two further implements were recovered from the River Rhymney, less than a quarter of a mile from the murder scene. They were found after water levels went down during the summer period.
It was also reported that the police were following up another new line of inquiry in the Port Talbot area.
Later in July 1957 it was reported that Scotland Yard received an anonymous letter from someone that indicated that a worker employed by the Forestry Commission in the area could tell them something that could help them and it was said that the letter was considered to have bene so important that it led the police to questioning more than 100 employees of the Forestry Commission employed between Pontrhydfen near Port Talbot and Maesteg. The police said that the letter had been written intelligently, but that they thought that it had been 'dashed off' in a hurry and added that it was difficult to say whether or not it had been written by a man or a woman. The police said, 'The letter indicated that a worker employed by the Forestry Commission in the area could tell us something which could help us. It is the best tip we have had since the main inquiry into the murder died down. The letter came out of the blue. If the writer came forward it would narrow down our work but as it is now we will not complete interviewing every employee of the Commission in this area until next Monday'.
Jean Chalinder parents ran a newsagents shop in Llanishen. She was buried on Wednesday 26 September 1956 in Pantmawr, Whitchurch and her funeral service was held at the same church that she had been married in three months earlier, St Teilo Church in Cardiff.
see Wales Online
see "News in Brief." Times [London, England] 19 Jan. 1957: 3. The Times Digital Archive. Web. 30 May 2016.
see Halifax Evening Courier - Friday 18 January 1957
see Birmingham Daily Post - Saturday 06 July 1957
see Western Mail - Thursday 27 June 1957
see Western Mail - Wednesday 14 November 1956
see Western Mail - Wednesday 14 November 1956
see Western Mail - Tuesday 16 October 1956
see Coventry Evening Telegraph - Monday 24 September 1956
see Western Mail - Monday 24 September 1956
see Lancashire Evening Post - Friday 21 September 1956
see Western Mail - Thursday 27 September 1956