Unsolved Murders

Bertha Zerdin

Age: 22

Sex: female

Date: 8 Apr 1927

Place: 129 Oxford Street, London

Bertha Zerdin died in a fire at 129 Oxford Street in London on 8 April 1927.

She was the wife of a Russian furrier and had lived in Sandringham Avenue in Merton Park.

She had been at 129 Oxford Street at the time of the fire which had suddenly burst out of the first, second and third storey windows. She and another woman were seen shortly before two o'clock standing in an open window on the second floor frantically calling for help.

Attempts were made to rescue the people in the building by some workmen that had been working on a building across the street who came over with a ladder. As one of the workmen was climbing the ladder Bertha Zerdin jumped from the second floor and as she fell she turned a somersault in the air. Her fall was broken first by the man that had climbed a ladder to rescue her who caught hold of her clothing and then by a group of workmen below. When she reached the ground her clothes were on fire.

The other woman who survived had also left the building in the same way and had burnt her stockings whilst climbing out over the window sill.

Bertha Zerdin later died in Middlesex Hospital.

Before she died her husband had been to see her at the hospital and he said that she told him several times, 'I am sure it was a put-up job', and had later said, 'It was no accident, it was too sudden'. Her husband said that he formed the opinion that the fire had started in a cupboard where a dustbin was kept on the first floor.

The Coroner summed up by saying that the origin of the fire had not been satisfactorily cleared up and that if any person could be convicted of causing fire by incendiarism that that person would be guilty of murder and liable to be executed.

An open verdict was returned.

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

see www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk

see The Scotsman - Wednesday 27 April 1927

see Derby Daily Telegraph - Saturday 16 April 1927

see Gloucestershire Echo - Monday 18 April 1927

see Shields Daily News - Saturday 09 April 1927

see Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer - Wednesday 27 April 1927