Unsolved Murders


Age: unknown

Sex: male

Date: 2 Aug 1912

Place: Bedford

Source: www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk

Cooper was found dead in the river at Bedford between Cauldwell Bridge and Hitchin Bridge.

He had been out with two friends to celebrate his birthday on Saturday 27 July 1912. It was noted that one of the two friends that had been out with him was also missing, and it wasn't known if he had gone off or whether he too had gone into the river.

A man said that he rowed out about 15 yards and saw Cooper floating in the river about 15 yards from the Cauldwell Bridge. He said that he then took hold of Cooper's waistcoat and pulled him to the bank and then covered him with a sack.

He said that the water was very warm at that spot on account of the hot water from the electric light works, and said that as soon as he laid Cooper out on the bank, blood came from his nose.

He said that Cooper was fully dressed other than his hat and coat which were both missing as well as half a shoelace. He said that his shirt sleeves were rolled up.

Cooper had gone out on the Saturday to celebrate his birthday with two friends and had visited a number of pubs in the area.

One of the friends was found asleep on the river bank early on the Sunday morning with Cooper's jacket over him but said that he could not say how it got there. The friend said tha he had left Cooper in the town early on the Saturday evening with the other man, by way of Honey Hills, but had not got far before he lay down to sleep. He said that when he woke up at about dawn, he found the coat beside him and covered himself over with it and went back to sleep.

The other friend was not seen following the night out.

It was heard that Cooper was an excellent swimmer.

A doctor that examined Cooper's body said that he found two small wounds on his ears but said that they were not sufficient to have caused death and said that he had no injuries on his hands. He said that Cooper's eyes were swollen, but not injured and concluded that his death had been due to drowning, and not injury.

He said that he thought that Cooper's body had been in the river for about two or three days.

Cooper's brother said that he last saw Cooper on the Saturday evening, 27 July 1912 at the Cherry Tree pub in Cauldwell just after 7pm, saying that he was with the man that had vanished. He said that he was in the pub, but he didn't speak to his brother. He said that he didn't know if there had been a row or not at the pub but said that the police arrived and turned everybody out and that that was the last he saw of Cooper.

The brother said that Cooper and the man that vanished were very good friends and said that he had never known them to row. He noted that six men from Wooton, including Cooper and the man that vanished were going down to the Fens harvesting, as they did every year. He also noted that both Cooper and the man that vanished had both been before the magistrates for fighting before, but not for fighting together. He also noted that he had never known the other man that had been out with Cooper to quarrel with Cooper.

A man that had been on night duty on the Saturday night at the electric light works said that at 4.15am he had gone down to move the weeds from the suction pipe and saw a green cap on the river bank which he picked up and said that he then saw the other friend of Cooper's lying on the bank about 20 yards away, saying that he appeared to be nice and comfortable, with a jacket over him and so he left  him lying there. He said that when he went back to move the weeds at 6am, the second friend was still sleeping on the bank.

The second friend said that he saw Cooper and the missing man at the Golden Lion pub between 7 and 8pm on the Saturday evening at the top of River Street, saying that they had certainly had beer, but said that they were not drunk. He said that he could not remember whether they had gone to the Cherry Tree pub and said that they last he saw of Cooper and the missing man was when they left the Golden Lion pub together, saying that nobody else was with them and that he could not say which way they went and that that was the last he saw of them. The second friend noted that they had all been in the Saracen's Head in St John's earlier in the evening, saying that they had seemed all right then.

The second friend said that he went off down Honey Hills between 8pm and 9pm and slept there until after 7am on the Sunday morning.

At the inquest, when the second friend was questioned about having the jacket, and was asked whether or not he thought that it was strange that he had Cooper's jacket, the friend said that he found it there and thought that Cooper must have come along whilst he was sleeping and lain down, and to have then gone off without taking it.

The second friend said that he had made no arrangements to meet Cooper where he had gone to sleep and said that Cooper would have had no reason to know that he had gone that way. He noted that he had gone to sleep almost straight after he laid down.

The Coroner noted in his summing up that it was unsatisfactory that the other friend was missing and asked why the missing friend had gone so soon and asked why he had not been seen since, although he suggested that he might have just gone of to the Fens.

An open verdict was then returned of Found Drowned, noting that there was not sufficient evidence to show how Cooper had got into the water.

see Bedfordshire Mercury - Friday 02 August 1912, p7