Unsolved Murders

Florence Smith

Age: unknown

Sex: female

Date: 1 May 1913

Place: Stainton, River Eden, Carlisle

Source: www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk

Florence Smith was found decapitated in the River Eden in Carlisle.

She had disappeared from the tobacconist where she had worked on Botchergate, Carlisle, in May 1913 and was found dead in the river in February 1914.

Another girl who had previously been employed in the tobacconist store said that she saw Florence Smith on the Thursday night, 8 May 1913 at about 9.30pm, as she was going around the Crescent towards Botchergate. She said that Florence Smith seemed rather excited and, in a hurry, and they spoke for about 3 minutes but she didn't tell her where she was going. The girl said that the next day the owner of the tobacconist store came to see her to ask if she would come back to the shop and help her as Florence Smith had not turned up for work.

Another girl who at the time had been working at another tobacconist store on Scotch Street said that on the 7 May 1913 she had shut up the shop at 10pm and then gone to the Botchergate where she had met Florence Smith and said that together they went to the corner of Court Square where Florence Smith met a man who she introduced to the girl but the girl said that she didn't remember the man's name. She said that they then went to the post office and then walked down Warwick Road to Warwick Square where the tobacconist lived. She said that Florence Smith talked to the man all the time, but she didn't remember what was said. She said that when they walked down Warwick Road the man had walked between her and Florence Smith and the man had put his arm around her but she said that she then went to walk on the other side of Florence Smith. When they arrived at Warwick Square Florence Smith went in to see the tobacconist leaving the girl to speak to the man who then asked her if she would like to go for a walk with her the next night but the girl said no and then went into the tobacconist's house and said that Florence Smith then came out and that she never saw her again.

The girl said she would not be able to recognise the man again as she had only seen him by the light of a streetlamp.

The coroner stated that Florence Smith was found dead in the river and that there was no evidence to show how she had met her death. The medical evidence was to the effect that the body had been in such a state of decomposition that any internal examination was impossible.

Her male friend never came forward. A name of the man had been put forward but it was later demonstrated to be false and the person whose name it was and who had been in Carlisle at the time after having stayed there in a hotel with his wife, wrote to the coroner after hearing his name associated with the crime and attended the inquest where he gave details of his movements and was cleared of any involvement.

It was first thought that at the time she had disappeared that she had actually eloped with the man that she had earlier met.


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


see Dundee Evening Telegraph - Wednesday 11 February 1914

see Hull Daily Mail - Saturday 14 February 1914

see Leeds Mercury - Wednesday 11 February 1914 - includes 4 pictures.

see Daily Record - Wednesday 11 February 1914

see Dundee People's Journal - Saturday 14 February 1914