Unsolved Murders

Leslie John Russell

Age: 30

Sex: male

Date: 7 May 1938

Place: 2 St James Parade, Bath

Leslie John Russell was found dead with a piece of wire down his throat.

The wire had pierced his lungs 14 inches below his mouth and throat. It was not known how the wire had come to be in his throat.

He was a labourer.

His wife said that Leslie Russell called her at about midnight and had a piece of wire sticking out of his throat. She said that he cried for her to fetch an ambulance but said that he seemed quite happy and was not worried.

He was taken to hospital but died within 24 hours on Saturday 7 May 1938, death being due to haemorrhage of the lung.

When the police searched his house, they found a pair of pliers.

The Coroner said that there was no evidence that the wire had been inserted by anyone else.

The house surgeon at Bath Royal United Hospital said that the wire had passed down Leslie Russell's windpipe and that an x-ray showed that the end of it was looped round the lung substance.

After he died an operation was carried out to remove the wire which was found to be 14 inches long and with a hook 2 3/8 inches long that had been cut to give it a sharp point.

The wire had gone down his larynx and through his windpipe and pierced his right lung to a depth of two inches. It was said that it had missed his heart by half an inch and a large blood vessel by a quarter of an inch. Doctors said that in order to remove the wire they had had to remove his chest wall, shift his heart to one side and his lung to the other side.

Doctors said that Leslie Russell had been in such a collapsed condition that he could not have possibly undergone an operation of that nature. It was noted that operations like that had been carried out once or twice before that but had so far always proved fatal.

His post-mortem revealed a very rare condition regarding the membrane surrounding his skull which had turned into a thin layer of bone that formed a second skull. However, the doctors said that after consulting two well-known neurologists, they were unable to say whether the condition would have increased Leslie Russell's suicidal tendencies.

Leslie Russell had had five children and had been a member of the Bristol Salvation Army Band and a member of the Bath branch of the British Legion.

He was buried in St James Cemetery.

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

see www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk

see Bath Chronicle and Weekly Gazette - Saturday 14 May 1938

see Bath Chronicle and Weekly Gazette - Saturday 21 May 1938

see Coventry Evening Telegraph - Wednesday 11 May 1938

see Hartlepool Northern Daily Mail - Wednesday 11 May 1938

see Western Daily Press - Wednesday 11 May 1938