Unsolved Murders

Herman Cohen

Age: 41

Sex: male

Date: 31 Mar 1909

Place: 24 Harold Street, Sunderland

Source: www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk

Herman Cohen was murdered in his office.

He was a Jewish money lender.

He was found in his office with his skull battered in, blood flowing from a wound in his head and his brains protruding. His skull was fractured in 5 to 6 places. When the doctor arrived he was still alive but died fifteen minutes later. There were no fewer than 8 incised wounds to his skull, any one of which could have been the cause of his death.

He was said to have had numerous visitors on the night he was murdered.

It was thought that robbery was the motive as there was no money found in his office and that he might have declined a loan to someone and that in a quarrel he was attacked and killed. A later theory considered that he had been watched through the blinds and a stealthy jump was made on him and the money he was handling taken with the wound to his head having been made with a stone although it was later thought that the weapon was a butcher's cleaver or heavy knife.

A theory that a woman that he had seen at 7pm was in fact a man in women's clothes was discounted. Also, the theory that he had recently had his life insured and that his murderer came from the Jewish community was also ruled out.

Two women had gone to pay Herman Cohen money ten minutes apart. The first had left him smilingly bidding her good night whilst the other who arrived 10 minutes later found him lying in a pool of blood.

A diamond ring was taken from a finger on his right hand and about £25 was missing.

The little finger of his left hand had been cut off, as if in a struggle against a man with a knife. it was thought that it was cut off when he had put his hand to his head to defend himself.

Bloodhounds were used to try and find a scent but with no results.

Later in November 1909 a small axe was found in a drain at the back of Rectory Terrace which was thought to have possibly been the murder weapon but when it was given to the police they ruled it out as a possible murder weapon as it was stated at the inquest that the murder weapon was probably something like a butcher's cleaver or a heavy knife with a long cutting edge because it had slashed clean through his skull and some of the cuts were the full length of the top of his head.

In March 1909 a man confessed to the murder of Herman Cohen saying that he had hit him on the head with an axe which he had then either thrown in the sea or given to a man in a pub. However, he said that he had cut off Herman Cohen's finger to get his ring but his statements didn't match up with the known facts in that the ring had been worn on the other hand than that which had the finger cut off.


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


see Manchester Courier and Lancashire General Advertiser - Wednesday 31 March 1909

see Sheffield Independent - Wednesday 10 March 1909

see The Scotsman - Tuesday 09 March 1909

see Aberdeen Journal - Monday 15 March 1909

see Dundee Evening Telegraph - Wednesday 17 March 1909

see Spartucus International