Unsolved Murders

Gerald Noah Griggs

Age: 11

Sex: male

Date: 5 Feb 1920

Place: Westerham, Kent

Source: www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk

Gerald Noah Griggs was found strangled near a reservoir with a lanyard around his neck.

He had earlier that evening been to a picture palace where he had seen, 'The Circus King' in which there was a hanging scene. One of his uncles had also hung himself ten years earlier.

Gerald Griggs had earlier before gone for a walk with a choir boy on the Sunday through a churchyard on 1 February 1920 and when they passed an unconstructed portion of the burial ground Gerald Griggs had pointed to the graves and said to the choir boy, 'That is where they bury people who strangle themselves.'.

The day before that another cadet had said that he thought that Gerald Griggs was worried.

The police said that when they examined the place where Gerald Griggs's body was found there were no marks of more than one person having been present and a cast taken corresponded to one of Gerald Griggs's boots.

However, the Coroner's jury returned the verdict that, 'Death was due to strangulation caused by a cord tied tightly round the neck by some person other than the deceased.' They also added that there was no evidence to show who that person was.

His strangulation had been accelerated by an enlarged thymus gland.

Evidence at the Coroner's inquest also stated that a 17 year old cadet had been attacked in the woods near the village on the Saturday night by a man wearing a khaki jacket.

Gerald Griggs's father said that he had not missed any cords from his house.

A policeman produced Gerald Griggs's uniform and cap. There was dirt on the back of the coat and the badge of the cap was found about 15ft. from his body. The police found marks suggesting that a person had been kneeling on the ground but could discover only traces of one person and no signs of a struggle.

The police also found a mark on the sole of one of his boots that could have been made by an iron bar on the reservoir railings and also marks on the railings indicating that someone had been climbing them.

A doctor said that there were marks under the cord around Gerald Griggs's neck which might have been made by a hand and that there was an abrasion on his forehead which might have been caused by a fall to the ground. He said that there were also one or two marks on his face that could have been caused by a blunt instrument which could not have been caused by a fall onto gravel. The doctor also said that there were scratches on him that could not have been caused by Gerald Griggs's nails which were cut very short.

The doctor said that he did not think that the cord had been put around Gerald Griggs's neck by Gerald Griggs and said that he considered it improbable that Gerald Griggs had taken his own life.

Another doctor said that Gerald Griggs might have put the rope around his own neck and hooked it to some railings near the spot and then become frightened and staggered to the spot where his body was found and fallen and then owing to the presence of the thymus gland, had suffocated.

Gerald Griggs had lived on London Road, Westerham.

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

see Sheffield Evening Telegraph - Monday 16 February 1920

see The Scotsman - Tuesday 17 February 1920

see Whitstable Times and Herne Bay Herald - Saturday 21 February 1920