Unsolved Murders

Francis Jeffers

Age: 4

Sex: male

Date: 13 Feb 1914

Place: Rochdale Canal, Ten Acre Lane, Newton Heath

Source: www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk

Francis Jeffers went missing from his home and was found dead in the canal some days later on 15 February 1914.

His mother said that she last saw him between 3.30pm and 4.00pm when he went out to play with his younger brother aged 2. Shortly after the mother said she looked through the window and saw them talking to a youth who was sat on the window ledge of a shop nearby. She said she heard the youth asked Francis Jeffers what his name was and she said she heard Francis Jeffers tell him and also tell him the name of his younger brother. The mother said that she left the window and went back into the kitchen for a moment and when she came back she said that the children had left the street.

She said that she went out and found the 2 year old on Oldham Street and when she asked him where Francis Jeffers was he said 'Gone down there with the kid' and pointed towards Manchester. the mother never saw Francis Jeffers again.

She said that the youth was a stranger to her and was about 14 years old, wore a brown coat with a muffler and had a dark cloth cap with a large peak drawn well over his eyes. She said that he was shabbily dressed and that she had never seen him before and hadn't seen him since.

His father thought that he had been lured away from his home by the 14-15 year old boy and taken to the canal. He said then that he thought that Francis Jeffers might have become frightened and screamed and the boy might have suddenly picked him up in a temper and thrown him into the canal.

A band of 300 Boy Scouts participated in the search for Francis Jeffers before his body was found.

It was thought that his body had been in the canal all the time and stuck in mud and had only just been brought to the surface by a passing boat the night before he was found.

Francis Jeffers had a bruise on his forehead.

to reach the spot where he was found Francis Jeffers would have had to have crossed several streets and make a number of turnings, but once he was there it would not have been difficult for him to have fallen in as the bank was steep and two bars from the rails protecting the canal side were missing.

A verdict of found drowned was returned at his inquest.

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

see Manchester Evening News - Friday 13 February 1914

see Manchester Courier and Lancashire General Advertiser - Monday 16 February 1914

see Manchester Courier and Lancashire General Advertiser - Tuesday 17 February 1914