Unsolved Murders

Henry Watson

Age: 57

Sex: male

Date: 27 Apr 1932

Place: Mouton, Newmarket

Source: www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk

Henry Watson died from cyanide of potassium poisoning.

He was a photographic artist.

He was found dead at 7.30pm on 27 April 1932 in his nightclothes at the house of a neighbour who did cooking for him. She said that he had come into her house with a steak to be cooked and then gone back to his house but then come back ten minutes later in his nightshirt with a bottle in his hand, rolling about and looking like a madman. She said that she then pushed him onto a bed and gave him some whisky but said that he died about seven-minutes later. She said that when he had come in like a madman she had asked him 'Good gracious, man, whatever is the matter?' and said that he replied 'I feel bad'. She said that his eyes were wild, and she thought that he was insane.

At the inquest she said, 'Although some people talk he was nothing to me'.

After it was determined that he had died from cyanide of potassium poisoning enquiries were made to see if he had bought any but nothing was found to indicate that he had.

His post-mortem revealed that he had two and a half grains of cyanide of potassium in his stomach.

The police said that they made exhaustive inquiries and found no evidence of either him or any unknown person having purchased cyanide of potassium in recent years. It was heard that it was not the custom for chemists to supply persons with cyanide of potassium unless they were personally known.

A public analyst said that cyanide of potassium was used in photography. However, Henry Watson's employer said that cyanide of potassium was never used in the business and said that he had not the slightest idea where Henry Watson could have got it.

It was heard that the neighbour had married a German in 1902 when the man was employed in Newmarket and that he had wanted her to live with him in Sarrbrucken in the Saar Valley in Germany but as she didn't like Germany he had let her return to England. It was heard that the German continued to live in Germany because he had a good job there and from time to time he would visit her in England and added that she had been to see him in Germany, bringing Henry Watson who he said was a friend to both of them. He said that he was quite friendly with Henry Watson and that he approved of his wife's friendship with him. He said that when the war broke out he had been interned.

A policeman said that he thoroughly examined Henry Watson's house on the night he died and said that he could not find his suit of clothes. However, they were found three days later hanging on a chair in the scullery and it was not known how they had got there. The policeman said that he had searched the neighbour’s house thoroughly but didn't find the clothes there either.

His neighbour said that she knew nothing about his clothes and said that she had no keys to his house.

The policeman said that he found a beef steak on the stove in the neighbours house and said that the neighbour informed him that she had been frying it for Henry Watson. It was heard that there was no evidence of a meal having been taken in the neighbours house.

The neighbour said that they had met in Bury St Edmunds during the afternoon prior to his death and had come home by train to Newmarket from where they had cycled separately home to Mouton.

At the inquest, three letters were produced that had been sent anonymously to Henry Watson. The first two were dated 1929 and were from a woman who had signed herself Phyllis and who had written from Southall in Middlesex in very affectionate terms. The third letter had arrived after his death and had come from Reading and was signed by a person calling themselves Elsie.

The first letter was said to have contained the following passage, 'I am sorry you are not well. I should simply love to be with you. Cheer up. I simply love you. If you suffer, remember that others suffer with you. Why not have a divorce? Why ruin your life when there are so many women who would be glad to help you? I simply live for you'.

The second letter which was sent by the same person four days later began, 'My dearest Harry' and stated 'My life, like yours, is empty, but I am living for your happiness'.

The third letter which arrived on 2 May 1932 began, 'Dear Harry, It is now a week since I wrote you. Why have you not answered my letters? You are surely not offended with me because I asked you if you were married. I do not mean that you were living with your wife. I thought you might be married and had some reason for living apart. Don't be cross with me, but tell me what is wrong with you. It seems strange to me that you have stopped writing all of a sudden. I am so very hurt about it. Now, dear boy, God bless you. From your girlie, Elsie.'

The Coroner told the jury that if they believed the neighbours story in full then they should return the verdict that Henry Watson had committed suicide. However, he said that if they disbelieved it then they could bring an open verdict.

An open verdict was returned. They stated that he had died from the effects of cyanide of potassium poisoning but that there was not sufficient evidence to show how it was obtained or how it was administered.


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


see Birmingham Daily Gazette - Friday 20 May 1932

see Western Daily Press - Friday 20 May 1932

see Gloucester Citizen - Friday 20 May 1932

see Dundee Courier - Friday 20 May 1932