Unsolved Murders

Mabel Church

Age: 19

Sex: female

Date: 13 Oct 1941

Place: 225 Hampstead Road, London

Mabel Church was found strangled in a bombed-out house at 225 Hampstead Road, NW1 on Monday 13 October 1941.

She had been a clerk in the Hackney Corporation's Electricity Department and had lived in Carleton Road in North London. She had also worked nights as a helper in a services canteen in the West End.

She had been friends with a girl who had lived in London but had recently moved with her parents to West Wickham in Kent. However, they would still meet up in London.

On the Saturday 11 October 1941 the girl had come to London to meet Mabel Church and they went to a theatre. The girl stayed that night with Mabel Church and her parents in London and on the Sunday 12 October 1941,  they went to the cinema and then at 9pm they went to Charing Cross Station where Mabel Church saw her friend off on a train.

A hour later, residents in the neighbourhood of 225 Hampstead Road and Mornington Crescent, heard screams, however, they thought that they were the cries of children.

When demolition workers entered 225 Hampstead Road, which was a bombed house, the following day they found the body of Mabel Church lying on the ground floor, practically nude, with a bruise on her jaw and an undergarment tied round her neck.

It was said that she had apparently died from strangulation. Her post-mortem stated that she had not been interfered with.

The police found a waitress's cap nearby as well as a handbag containing a number of letters and a gas mask.

Mabel Church had been wearing a black jacket, but no shoes or stockings. Later, a pair of shoes were found in the basement, and it was thought that they might have fallen through a hole from the ground floor.

Mabel Church was described as being slim, of a medium height, and with a mass of dark hair framing an attractive oval face. It was said that she invariably went about without her hat or stockings.

It was noted that her body bore clear impressions of fingerprints and that the police used a newly developed system for taking fingerprint impressions from dead bodies. However, it was also thought that it was unlikely that the prints would be of any assistance in the police enquiry.

The police said that they were focussing their investigation on a thirty-minute gap from the time that Mabel Church was last seen alive to the time that it was considered she died, 9pm to 9.30pm.

The friend that last saw Mabel Church said, 'Mabel and I were at school together at West Ham and often used to meet in London and have tea and outings. When I left her on Sunday night, I went to catch a train to West Wickham, and she, I understand, was going to catch a bus home'.

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

see discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk

see National Archives - MEPO 3/2193

see Dundee Courier - Tuesday 14 October 1941

see Western Morning News - Saturday 18 October 1941

see Daily Mirror - Wednesday 15 October 1941

see National Library of Scotland