Unsolved Murders

Kathleen Violet Mansfield

Age: 14

Sex: female

Date: 30 Oct 1921

Place: Highlands, Shortheath, Farnham, Surrey

Source: www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk

Kathleen Mansfield was found suffocated in a garden behind a fence.

She had also been outraged.

Her body was found soon after 9am on the Sunday morning under a hedge by a milkman on his rounds. The scene was in Shortheath, a suburb of Farnham on the road that connected Farnham with the main Portsmouth Road that ran right through the town centre. It was said to have been a motor-bus route and that it would have been crowded with people returning from shopping at Farnham. The milkman had gone through the gate and had been returning down the path and whilst he was unlatching the gate he saw Kathleen Mansfield’s body within the gateway behind an oak paling, within a yard of the road.

The milkman then ran for the house owner who came out. They saw that Kathleen Mansfield's clothes were disarranged but said that there were no marks of blood. They said that although the carriage drive was hard gravel, there were marks of a violent struggle all around the spot that appeared to have been made by heavy nailed boots and that several stones, two or three inches in diameter had been kicked from the path. It was also said that the bushes above the spot were broken and torn. The house next door was an untenanted mansion but had a caretaker who called for the police.

The caretaker said 'It was a terribly sad sight. The girl lay flat on her back with her head under a bush. Her hat was on the ground near her body. I touched her hand and it was cold, and I said, 'She is dead'. I then telephoned for the police. The girl was fully dressed, but her clothing was disarranged. I put a cloth over her and waited for the police and doctor.'.

Kathleen Mansfield lived with her parents in a cottage that was about 250 yards from where she was found.

Police searched for two soldiers that she had been seen talking to on the Saturday evening as they had walked through the Castle Street in the town with a friend. They were heard to have said 'Good evening' to her and she was heard to have replied. When they saw them for the fourth time Kathleen Mansfield told her friend that she would leave her there and go with the soldiers as they might see her home. Her friend had noted that Kathleen Mansfield was afraid to go home by herself as the road was dark and lonely.

Another woman said that she saw Kathleen Mansfield at about 8.50pm in Downing Street which was a little further along Kathleen Mansfield's way home and said that only one soldier was with her at the time.

Kathleen Mansfield was seen a little later at 9pm with a soldier in Station Road. It was noted that the soldier had worn spurs which were mostly worn by soldiers in the RE units.

At the scene, heavy marks, such as might have been caused by Army boots were found in the shrubbery.

Kathleen Mansfield's father, a gardener, said that she was 14 years and 10 months old. He said that she was employed in daily service at Broomleaf Farm in Farnham and that she usually left home at about 8am and returned around 6pm to 7pm. He said that she left home at as usual on the Saturday morning. He said that she had no male friends that he knew of and had never caused them an anxiety. Kathleen Mansfield had recently left school and was working as a day girl.

Her employer said that Kathleen Mansfield left work as usual on the Saturday evening shortly after 6pm. Her father said that if she had gone home after work he would have seen her as he was at home until 7.45pm. He said that he got home at 10.30pm and after finding out that she was not at home went out looking for her at about 11.15pm.

After leaving work she had gone to a church bazaar in the Assembly Rooms in Farnham.

When she didn't return home on the Saturday night, her parents interrogated their neighbours and made a search for her but eventually made up their minds that she must have been staying with friends.

A doctor that examined the place where her body was found said that there was some disturbance on the ground just behind the fence but no sign of any serious struggle.

A police surgeon said that Kathleen Mansfield had been virgo intacto up until the Saturday evening. He said that there was evidence in her lungs of asphyxiation and that in his opinion she had died from suffocation which might have been caused by a weight upon her body. The police surgeon said that he thought that Kathleen Mansfield had been a consenting party.

Kathleen Mansfield's father was in tears at the inquest and asked the Coroner to ask the doctor whether it might have been possible that Kathleen Mansfield had been in a fit at the time and that the act was carried out whilst she was helpless and without her consent. However, the Coroner refused to pass that question on for the Doctor to answer. Kathleen Mansfield's father persisted with his question exclaiming 'Why blast my girl's character?', but the Coroner still declined. However, while the jury retired the doctor told Kathleen Mansfield's father what he had suggested was quite possible.

Three young men that had been seen near the garden where Kathleen Mansfield was found later came forward and established their innocence with the police and said that they knew nothing of the matter.

Kathleen Mansfield's funeral was held on Thursday 3 November 1921. One of the wreaths there was inscribed 'With our faith in her unshaken. From Dad and Mum'.

Kathleen Mansfield was the fifth of eleven children, three of whom had died.


see Shepton Mallet Journal - Friday 04 November 1921

see Lancashire Evening Post - Monday 31 October 1921

see Western Times - Saturday 05 November 1921

see Hull Daily Mail - Monday 31 October 1921

see Nottingham Evening Post - Tuesday 01 November 1921