Unsolved Murders

Sarah Corlett

Age: 19

Sex: female

Date: 16 Oct 1928

Place: Lamplugh Reservoir, Whitehaven

Sarah Corlett was found dead in an underground reservoir with head injuries on 12 November 1928 a month after she went missing.

Her head had been battered and there was a blood-stained garment around her neck.

The doctor who examined her body said that there was evidence that she had been struck on the head with a blunt instrument and that the wound could not have been caused by her falling into the water. He also said that she didn't drown. Around her neck was a blood-stained camisole which had been twisted at the back

The fact that the entrance to the reservoir could only be obtained through manholes pointed to foul play. There were also spiked iron railings, five feet tall, surrounding it.

Access to the reservoir was through four manholes whose covers were secured by nuts and bolts. When workmen arrived to clean out the reservoir they found everything in order.

The reservoir itself was situation in the middle of a waste moorland a quarter of a mile from the nearest road along which she would have had to have passed on her way home to Asby from the farm where she worked on the night she vanished.

Her father said that when Sarah Corlett didn't come home on 16 October 1928 he thought that she had stayed the night at the farm on account of it being a dark and foggy night. He said that the next day the farmer’s wife told him that Sarah Corlett was missing and that he had been looking for her every day since. He said that he had been to the reservoir and said that he tried lifting up one of the manhole covers and said that he found that one of the bolts was loose but had no idea that she might have been in there. He said that he did have a look in but didn't see anything.

The Saturday after her body was discovered, her employer at Arlecdon Farm where she was a servant was found hanging dead in a barn on an adjoining farm. It was thought that he had been dead for some time.

It was said that it was obvious that the murderer would have had intimate knowledge of the locality as a stranger would have found it practically impossible to negotiate the difficult ground between the roadway and the reservoir.

When the farmers body was searched, they found letters to his wife as well as the police stating that he was innocent of any connection with the death of Sarah Corlett.

In the letter to his wife he wrote 'My dearest wife, I am writing to bid you good-bye, as I am going to end it all because of this unfortunate case. Whatever other people think, you know that I am innocent, and I thank you for your faith in me. It will all come out in the end. I am sorry to leave you like this, as we have been very happy together. I have looked forward to a long and happy life with you and the children. The statements that have been going about are easy to make but hard to refute, and the scandal-mongers will be satisfied now that they have been the cause of the loss of an innocent life. I think the children will be a joy and comfort to you, but for God's sake don't settle down in Arlecdon. I never thought when I married that I would leave you like this, but I am sick to death of the endless scandal, and I am taking the coward's way out. You must tell the superintendent anything he wants to know, and then perhaps I will get my name cleared. It would be better for you and the children. Good-bye, my dear, good-bye, your loving husband.'

The police had questioned the farmer on the Friday night about his use of a cottage on his farm for which he had the key and about whether he had been having clandestine meetings with Sarah Corlett there, however, he denied that.

The police said that they had been working on the theory that Sarah Corlett had been murdered indoors and had not been wearing her coat at the time, noting that her coat appeared to have been flung into the reservoir after her body.

At the farmer’s inquest where he was found to have committed suicide whilst of unsound mind the police announced that they were then working on a new clue after learning that Sarah Corlett had received a letter on the day before she vanished, 15 October 1928. However, there was no trace of the letter and the police said that they were very anxious to trace the writer.

The police said that they had found no one that had seen Sarah Corlett from the moment she vanished from the farm on 16 October 1928 to the time that her body was found.

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

see www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk

see Western Morning News - Thursday 15 November 1928

see Gloucester Journal - Saturday 17 November 1928

see Western Daily Press - Monday 19 November 1928

see Dundee Courier - Tuesday 20 November 1928

see Western Daily Press - Wednesday 14 November 1928