Unsolved Murders

Walter Reeve

Age: 43

Sex: male

Date: 24 Feb 1911

Place: River Blackwater, Little Chase, Little Coggeshall

Source: www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk

Walter Reeve was found drowned in the River Blackwater, near Little Chase, Little Coggeshall.

He was a policeman and had been serving for 20 years.

He left home at 5.45pm on Thursday 16 February 1911 to go on duty and was said then to have been in his usual good health and spirits.

However, he didn't come home and the next morning at 8am his wife informed the police.

His wife said that he couldn't swim.

He had been at Coggeshall for a year and eight months, before which he had been at St. Osyth for 12 months and before that at Potter Street in Harlow.

He had gone on duty at 6pm on 16 February 1911 and had been ordered to go to a conference point at Kelvedon pump at 11pm but didn't return.

His body was later found in the water on the Sunday 19 February 1911.

He was in full uniform and his watch had stopped at a few minutes past 12 o'clock. His whistle, truncheon and handcuffs were all in their proper position and in his pockets he had some of the notices that he had been given to serve.

It was said to have been a very dark and windy night.

No marks were found on the river bank but it was said to have been very swollen and almost level with the meadow and it was said that he could have walked straight in.

There were no marks on his uniform or helmet which was found floating in the river and it was suggested that his helmet might have blown off and that he might have chased it. His fingernails were filled with mud.

It was said that the place where he was found was near on his beat and that it would have been his duty to have gone there if he had any suspicion there was anything wrong in the chase or if he saw a light or heard a noise.

He had been seen a few times before he disappeared. At 9.30pm he was seen by the landlady of the Toll House in Coggeshall who said that he called at her house and served a notice but that he had left without having a drink and said that he appeared in his usual health.

A wheelwright said that he met Walter Reeve at 10.05pm and said that he seemed quite sober and he was later seen by a man at 10.10pm who said that he saw him walking towards Kelvedon with his head down and said that Walter Reeve generally spoke but that on this occasion he said nothing.

The doctor that carried out the post-mortem said that death was due to asphyxia from drowning and that there was no indication of a struggle having taken place.

He was said to have lost a child from diphtheria about four months earlier which had upset but that he was described as a good all-round constable although he did have a little trouble with his leg that led him to swing his arm whilst walking.

The Coroner asked, 'you are quite certain he did not come to his death by violence?' and was told 'There is no evidence of that.'. An open verdict was then returned.


see Chelmsford Chronicle - Friday 24 February 1911