Unsolved Murders

Wilhelmina Crouchman

Age: 39

Sex: female

Date: 29 Dec 1913

Place: 18 Etham Street, Southwark

Wilhelmina Crouchman was found dead with face injuries in a room in Etham Street, Southwark.

She was also known as Scotch Dolly.

She had previously lived in the Robert Napier pub in New Inn Yard, Shoreditch with her husband who she married in 1892 in Hoxton. She had been the licensee of the pub but had taken to drinking and they had separated. After separating Wilhelmina Crouchman attempted suicide by jumping into the Regents Canal.

Her husband had supported her until he discovered that she had been associating with other men in 1907. He said that he thought his wife had recently been living with a man and that they had quarrels and that she drank a lot.

Wilhelmina Crouchman had taken a room in Etham Street, just off Tabard Street, in December 1912 around Christmas giving the name Dolly and paying 2s as a deposit. She had lived there with a man with whom she quarrelled with, mainly on Saturdays and was not a sober woman, drinking mainly gin and ale. The coroner noted that that was what they called a pennyworth and a ha'porth on which people can get drunk for less than a shilling.

Wilhelmina Crouchman was said to have been a hard drinker and it was heard that when she was drunk, she would come out of her house and scream for no apparent reason. A man that lived near her said that he had never known her to be sober.

The pathologist said that the wounds to her face were a most severe injury and appeared to have been made either by a fist or a blunt object. He said that her death was due to heart failure from shock following injuries. He also said that there were internal injuries indicating that she had been knelt on.

On her leg he found 38 small puncture wounds arranged in the shape of a half-moon but could not say how they were caused.

She was found by her landlady who had been out collecting rents and had gone to her room where she found her on the floor dead. She was fully dressed with her head towards the door. The right side of her face was swollen and blackened, and blood had been issuing from her nostrils. The room had been in a disorderly state with bedding scattered over the floor and the pictures on the wall smashed.

The landlady said that on the Saturday afternoon she had heard Wilhelmina Crouchman and her partner arguing and when she went to find out what was happening said that her partner had told her that he had caught a strange man in their room. The landlady said that she later went to collect the rent on the Sunday morning and found the door ajar and the room in disorder with a picture broken but did not see Wilhelmina Crouchman. However, when she returned on the Monday, she said she then saw Wilhelmina Crouchman lying dead on the floor.

The divisional surgeon examined the body at 10am on the Monday morning and determined that she had been dead for about 15 hours. However, he said that she might have met with her injuries earlier and lain there unconscious for some time.

It was heard that on the night of 27 December 1913, a Saturday, a man was looking out of his window when he saw Wilhelmina Crouchman run out into the street partly dressed. He said that he then saw her partner come to the door and shout, 'There will be murder done in this house tonight'. He said that Wilhelmina Crouchman then shouted that she would fetch 'a copper' and said that her partner replied, 'You can bring the police force if you like. I will do the same to the coppers as I will do to you'. The man said that he then saw Wilhelmina Crouchman run into another house and said that her partner then went off down the road.

The man said that later, at about 8.30pm, he saw Wilhelmina Crouchman standing outside her door. He said that about 15 minutes later he saw her partner renter the house and then saw a man running out, pursued by Wilhelmina Crouchman's partner.

Wilhelmina Crouchman's partner said that the last time that he saw Wilhelmina Crouchman was at 8.30pm on the Saturday night. He said that he then went to his friend’s house and that he was there until 3pm the following day.

It was heard that the evidence indicated that Wilhelmina Crouchman had been murdered between 10.30pm on the Saturday night, 27 December 1913 and 9am on the Sunday morning 28 December 1913. It was further stated that it was not possible to prove where Wilhelmina Crouchman's partner was between 1.30am and 6am on the Sunday morning.

The man that Wilhelmina Crouchman had been living with at the time was initially charged with her murder, but the charges were later dropped due to lack of evidence. The Director of Public Prosecutions said that they came to the conclusion that no jury would convict the man on either manslaughter or murder.

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

see www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk

see Birmingham Mail - Monday 19 January 1914

see Aberdeen Journal - Friday 02 January 1914

see Derby Daily Telegraph - Thursday 01 January 1914

see Manchester Evening News - Wednesday 07 January 1914

see Manchester Evening News - Wednesday 21 January 1914