Unsolved Murders

Winifred Beatrice Baker

Age: 12

Sex: female

Date: 6 Dec 1912

Place: Walton Road, Woking, Surrey

Winifred Beatrice Baker was a girl scout and was murdered in Woking.

She had been strangled in a passage just off of Walton Road.

She was a twin and had lived with her family on Goldsworth Road. She was a Girl Nightingale, a sort of scout movement named after Florence Nightingale, and had left home at 5.45pm to attend drill at the Mission Hall in Walton Road, Woking, taking her scout pole with her.

It was noted that although she had lived in Goldsworth Road on the other side of Worthing that she had been strangled a few doors away from the house that she was born in in Walton Road.

After leaving the scout meeting she had been abducted by a man who had accosted a group of Girl Nightingales with whom Winifred Baker was with and who had singled her out. He then took her off in the pretence of going off to see her temperance class teacher, going off with her in the direction of pine woods.

After the man took Winifred Baker off, her friends became alarmed and told the police after which constables, Boy Scouts and cyclists joined in a systematic search of miles of common with the aid of lanterns until she was found the following morning by a greengrocers' assistant in a passage in Walton Road not far from the road and not far from where she had been abducted.

One of the friends that had been with Winifred Baker said that they had left the Mission Hall just after 7pm carrying their scout poles. She said that Winifred Baker was carrying a piece of paper with pictures of flags on it, and that just after they stopped at a sweet shop a man came up behind them at the corner of Courtenay Road and Monument Road and touched the her on the shoulder and said, 'Your temperance teacher wants to see you'. The girl said they replied, 'We are not Band of Hope girls, we are Nightingales', and said that the man then said, 'That is right' and then asked the girl to come with him again.

The girl said that she refused to go with the man, as did another girl, but said that Winifred Baker said, 'I will go and see what she wants. You wait here, I won't be a minute'. However, they didn't wait and followed behind but lost sight of them at the mission hall. They said that when they had started to run after Winifred Baker the man had pulled Winifred Baker along.

They said that when the man spoke he put his hand to his mouth and stuttered. They said that they had also met the man on the preceding Tuesday but had not spoken to him, noting that he had then been with another man. She said that he looked 'like a gentleman'.

It was noted that Winifred Baker was always very keen in her attention to training and after saying that she would go, asked the man where their lieutenant (temperance teacher) was and that the man told her that she was at a house, indication the direction with the wave of his hand. It was later reported that the other two children offered to accompany Winifred Baker with the man but said that the man had told them that their lieutenant had only wanted one of them, before running off, followed by Winifred Baker.

The girls said that when the man took Winifred Baker there had been plenty of people about but said that no one took any notice.

The girls then told the caretaker at the hall what had happened, but he said that he hadn't seen Winifred Baker and they then told a policeman.

Winifred Baker's body was found by a grocer the following morning at about 7am between two houses close to the Christ Church Mission Hall. The grocer said that after he and another man satisfied themselves that she was dead they covered her body with some sacks and sent for the police.

A doctor that was called out said that he saw her body at about 8am lying on its back with its feet towards the gate. He said that her boots were not laced up but that the laces were twisted round her boots. He said that he formed the opinion that her boots had been removed and replaced on her feet by a second person, presumably after her death.

He said that there were mud stains on her jacket and that her scarf was doubled tightly round her neck and tied with a single knot in front. However, it was noted that her clothing was otherwise unsoiled and that her boots were not muddy and nor was she wet, even though it had been raining through the night and early morning.

The police said that the condition of her clothing indicated that she had not been taken far away and that they thought that she had been enticed into a house locally where she was murdered. It was thought that after she had been murdered that her murderer had then carried her to the gat and then dumped her over, with her head pointing up the alley way and her feet against the gate.

He added that he felt quite sure that her body had been thrown over the gate into the passage.

He said that when he later examined her body at the mortuary that he found mud stains on her left cheek and the chin and some minute scratches, and said that her nose was slightly deflected to the right. He added that there was evidence pointing to the fact that Winifred Baker had been outraged and that he had formed the impression that she had been dead for at least six hours and that her cause of death was strangulation.

Winifred Baker had been wearing a red scarf at the time.

Her brown felt hat was later discovered not far from where her body was found by a man at about 6.45am. He said that when he saw it he picked it up and put it in his pocket and later handed it in to the police.

Her staff, which her father had written her name on  was not found.

Winifred Baker's inquest, which concluded on Thursday 19 December 1912, returned a verdict of 'Wilful murder against some person or persons unknown'.

It was noted that 60-year-old Thomas Jasper Harris Reid was later found dead in the porch of an empty house in Horsell, Woking on 11 December 1912. He was from Wootton on the Isle of Wight and had never been to Woking before and it was a mystery as to why he was there. However, it was reported that his death, although unsolved itself, was not connected in any way with the murder of Winifred Baker.

It was further reported on Sunday 26 January 1913 that a boy who had been playing on the sea wall at Queenborough in Kent found a sealed message in a bottle that had been washed up by the tide in  which contained the following message: 'I, E Lorimore, recently murdered a girl Scout. Don't look. I have drowned myself'.

The message was handed in to the Kent police who forwarded it to the Surrey police for examination.

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

see www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk

see Bellshill Speaker - Friday 20 December 1912

see The Scotsman - Thursday 19 December 1912

see Portsmouth Evening News - Friday 06 December 1912

see Hull Daily Mail - Wednesday 18 December 1912

see Illustrated Police News - Thursday 19 December 1912

see Nottingham Journal - Thursday 19 December 1912

see Reynolds's Newspaper - Sunday 26 January 1913

see Illustrated Police News - Thursday 12 December 1912