Unsolved Murders

Richard Arthur Smith

Age: 10

Sex: male

Date: 11 Oct 1923

Place: Ferrybridge

Source: www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk

Elizabeth Ann Smith and her two children Richard Arthur Smith 10 and Leslie Hall Smith 8 were found dead in a canal.

Elizabeth Smith had lived with her husband and children at Ferrybridge House, a mansion that had been divided up.

12 months earlier she had had a nervous breakdown and for the last 11 months had been under a doctor and suffered from bouts of acute depression. she had never openly threatened to take her own life but had whilst depressed said that she wished she could go to sleep and never wake up again.

Elizabeth Smith was seen walking past a glassblower’s house towards Pottery Field with two children, the younger one of who was crying but as she usually walked along that route he took no special notice.

At about 5pm Leslie Smith was seen by a woman who kept a sweetshop when he came in and bought three pennyworth of sweets. She said that he didn't appear to be crying at the time.

Later an 11 year old schoolgirl said she heard a cry when she was playing in a field alongside the canal and that when she went to have a look near the water's edge she saw a little boy's head sinking below the surface. She then ran off home and told her mother.

Elizabeth Smith's dog was also in the water but it had it had scrambled out and trotted off home.

When the police arrived they found a scarf belonging to Elizabeth Smith and a boy's cap on the bank and over the next couple of days the bodies were recovered.

The bank was about a foot above the water which was quite shallow for about 3 feet and then deepened abruptly.

The only marks of violence found were a bruise on Elizabeth Smith's left temple and a blackened eye.

It was noted that the canal path was open to the public and that it would be easy for a child to fall in but impossible for one to get out. The spot was 150 yards from the nearest public road and to get there would have required a person to trespass that distance.

The jury found that there was no evidence to show how they came to be in the canal and an open verdict was returned.

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

see Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer - Thursday 11 October 1923