Unsolved Murders

Ethel Nina Louisa Fountain

Age: 23

Sex: female

Date: 14 May 1933

Place: Drury Lane, Houghton Regis, Bedfordshire

Source: www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk

Ethel Nina Louisa Fountain died from stab wounds.

Her husband was tried for her murder but acquitted. He said that she had committed suicide after he had stabbed her once.

Ethel Fountain was found at the top of Drury Lane near a stile, having been stabbed.

She had been living with her husband in Hambling Place in Dunstable until a month earlier after which she had gone to live with her parents in Bidwell Hill in Houghton Regis.

They had met up on 14 May 1933 and in the evening had gone out for a walk. They were later seen at the stile at 7.25pm by a man who said that when he looked out again 20 minutes later he saw the husband walking away from the stile.

The husband then went up to a man that was standing in the roadway and beckoned him to go with him and they went to the stile where they saw Ethel Fountain lying dead.

The husband then asked to be directed to a police station and went off with a man on a motorcycle to a police station in Dunstable.

When the husband went into the police station at 8.45pm he asked the policeman there if he had heard any news and then drew his hand out of his coat pocket and placed a dagger on the desk.

The husband was then said to have said, 'Will you break the news to my mother, because it will kill her, and to my father, too'. He then said, 'Do you know what has happened? It is no use denying it'.

When he was asked if he was married the husband said, 'I was, but I am not now'. It was heard that he then asked for the dagger to be moved as it 'drew his eyes'.

An undated letter was found on the husband which read, 'I have had a whole heap of trouble. My wife has turned out a bad woman, and is unfaithful to me. I had to tell her to pack her bags. Such is life I suppose. I have been on the sick list for five weeks. One must look on the bright side I suppose. If I was a man always drunk and knocked her about perhaps she would think more of me. You can be too kind to them sometimes'.

At his trial, the husband said that he had taken the dagger to the meeting in the hope that Ethel Fountain would commit suicide.

The husband had arrived in Houghton Regis at about 6.45pm. Ethel Fountain had earlier gone out to chapel and her husband waited for her to return at about 7.30pm and they then went out together.

He said that Ethel Fountain had repeatedly threatened to take her life and said that she had repeated her threat when she had asked him if he would return to her. He said that he had contracted a disease from her and that she had admitted to going with six or seven men, and said that he told her that he could never live with her again.

He said that she turned like a woman gone mad and screamed, 'If you don't have me you will never have another woman. I will wreck your whole life for ever. You will never have any happiness and I will get the boy away from you'.

He said that he then saw red and stabbed her with the dagger once. He said that Ethel Fountain then grasped her hands around his hands and the dagger and forced the weapon to herself with an almost mad plunge. He added that he had had no power to stop the blow.

A doctor that was called out said that when he found Ethel Fountain by the stile he found that Ethel Fountain had two wounds, noting that the fatal wound could have been self-inflicted, but not the non-fatal wound.

He said that when he first examined her body, it was still warm and said that her death had probably taken place about two hours earlier. He said that her clothing was deeply bloodstained over her chest and that there was also blood on her sleeve and the glove of her left forearm.

He said that there were two stab wounds to her chest and that she had two cuts to her left forearm.

The doctor said that he carried out a post-mortem the following day and said that the wound on the left side of her chest was three quarters of an inch long and that it was a punctured wound with clean cut inverted edges. He said that the other wound was to the front of the right shoulder joint which was an incised penetrating wound with clean edges and oval in shape. He said that further examination showed that the wound to the right of the chest had passed downwards through the upper lobe of the right lung and had severed the right pulmonary artery. He noted that the other wound to the left of the chest had passed between the first and second ribs in a nearly horizontal direction and had penetrated into the cavity of the chest and had punctured the right lung. He said that all the wounds were similar in character and could have been made by the same instrument such as the dagger which was shown in court.

The doctor said that Ethel Fountain's death was due to haemorrhage from the right pulmonary artery.

At the trial the jury retired for an hour before returning with a not guilty verdict.

The husband had formerly served with the Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire Regiment and worked as a gum-maker at Waterlow's Printing Works in Dunstable. He was also a member of the Dunstable Excelsior Band.


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


see Nottingham Journal - Saturday 01 July 1933

see Hartlepool Northern Daily Mail - Saturday 01 July 1933

see Gloucester Citizen - Monday 22 May 1933

see Western Daily Press - Saturday 01 July 1933

see Gloucester Citizen - Saturday 01 July 1933

see Derby Daily Telegraph - Monday 15 May 1933