Unsolved Murders

William Ditchfield Morris

Age: 28

Sex: male

Date: 14 Oct 1931

Place: Dunford Bridge, Cheshire

Source: www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk

William Ditchfield Morris was found dead in a stream.

His body was found near a car that had been driven down a 160/200 foot ravine and set on fire.

He had gone out on the Friday night after leaving his business and telling his brother that he was going to give a test drive to a prospective buyer of his car. Before leaving he had filled his tank and two petrol tins with petrol.

Later that night his car was found blazing furiously in a deep ravine halfway between Manchester and Sheffield. After an hour, the car was burnt out and sometime after William Morris was found slightly burned in a river about 40 yards from his car.

The two petrol tins were found nearby, one of which had had the cap removed and was nearly empty. Also, a dirty box of cigarettes was found some distance away.

A verdict was returned that he had died from drowning but that there was insufficient evidence to show how the car came to be on fire.

However, it was suggested that he had not been in his car when it had gone down the ravine and that it had been prepared to catch on fire when pushed over the verge but that when it didn't he had climbed down to either set it alight or to pour the petrol on it and that he had then become startled by a passing vehicle and stumbled and fallen into the stream.

It was said that if he had been in the vehicle when it had gone over the ravine he would have died.

It was also heard that on the Friday he had been served with a summons for arrears in connection with a court maintenance order in respect of a child. However, it was said that he had only come into arrears through carelessness because he did have the money to pay.

He was an ironmonger and had lived on Rainford Road in St. Helens. It was said that he had been hoping to get married in 18 months’ time and that his fiancee knew about his problems and had forgiven him.

The Coroner noted that there was no evidence that the summons had had any effect on his mind and said that he didn't think that he had intended to commit suicide.


see Hartlepool Northern Daily Mail - Wednesday 14 October 1931

see Western Morning News - Wednesday 14 October 1931

see Northern Whig - Wednesday 14 October 1931