Unsolved Murders

Emily Jane Charlesworth

Age: 69

Sex: female

Date: 22 Sep 1945

Place: 4 Ravendale Street, Scunthorpe, Lincolnshire

Source: www.nationalarchives.gov.uk

Emily Charlesworth was murdered at 4 Ravendale Street in Scunthorpe, Lincolnshire on 22 September 1945.

She had been strangled as well as assaulted with sharp and blunt instruments and her face had been left unrecognisable.

The man that she worked for as a housekeeper for the previous 27 years, a skip filler at the local steelworks, was tried for her murder but acquitted.

After the skip filler was acquitted the police said that they were making fresh inquiries and said that they were bearing in mind the possibility that her murderer was associated with other districts where similar mysterious murders had been committed and that they were visiting those areas to consult with their respected police forces. The police added that usually in cases of violent assault such as that committed against Emily Charlesworth, there was a history of similar attacks, either before or after, but no previous incidents of that kind had been reported in Scunthorpe and as such were bearing in mind the possibility that the person responsible might not be associated with the town.

It was heard that the skip filler had the mental age of a child of 11 years and 3 months and further noted that if he had gone into the witness-box at his trial that he might have given answers that were not in his own favour. It was also heard that he had made a confession, however, the judge said that it was not admissible as he was not satisfied that the relevant part of it flowed from hope or fear excited by the person that was in authority.

Following the refusal by the judge to allow the skip filler workers confession to be used in evidence the prosecution offered no evidence and the skip filler was acquitted.

Emily Charlesworth was found battered to death in the house on the morning of 23 September 1945 and it was thought that she had been murdered between 22 and 23 September 1945. When she was found it was said that she had been dead for some time. Her head had been battered in and was described as being unrecognisable. It was also noted that there were bloodstains on all four walls.

The skip filler was said to have been the last person to have seen Emily Charlesworth when he left for work at 9.30pm on the Saturday 22 September 1945. He said that when he later got home on the Sunday morning, 23 September 1945 at about 6am he found her dead.

The skip filler worked at John Lysaght Ltd at Normanby Park Steelworks in Scunthorpe as a skip filler. When his clock card was examined (clock-card No. 171) he was shown to have clocked in at the steelworks at 9.52pm on the Saturday 22 September 1945 and to have clocked out at 5.46am on the Sunday 23 September 1945. Nothing unusual was noted about him whilst he had been at work during that period.

Emily Charlesworth was last seen by a friend at the back door of 4 Ravendale Street at about 6.30pm on the Saturday 22 September 1945.

When the skip filler was first questioned, he denied murdering Emily Charlesworth, but it was noted that for the most part he had replied that he 'could not remember' to most questions that were put to him. He was questioned several times, including in the company of his brother-in-law who tried to encourage him to remember. During the questioning, the brother-in-law said to the skip filler, 'You can remember what happened before Auntie's death. You've got to be a man an not have the mind of a child'. However, when he was again questioned, he said, 'I can't remember. I did not kill her'.

When the inspector later suggested that they go back to 4 Ravendale Street to refresh his memory, the skip filler became excited and said, 'I left her in the best of spirits. I did not murder her. I did not touch her'. When the inspector told him that he didn't believe that he couldn't remember more, the skip filler became very agitated and said, 'You are going to charge me' and the inspector replied that he only wanted answers to questions so that he could get at the truth. The skip filler then made a statement that he signed and when he was going home he said, 'I wish it was all over. I did not touch her. I cannot remember, I could not help, I do not remember'.

However, the following morning on 2 October 1945, the skip filler was questioned again to clear up some points and they went upstairs at the police station where the skip filler then said, 'I am sorry I done it and all the trouble it has caused', and then said that he would write it all down if the inspector would help with the spelling. However, his statement was found inadmissible in court.

On 24 September 1945 a Chief Inspector of the Finger Print Branch at New Scotland Yard when to 4 Ravendale Street where he examined things for finger impressions. At the scene of the crime he examined a quantity of crockery that was on the table together with two empty milk bottles, an empty pint bottle, a candlestick, an alarm clock, a handbag and a purse that was on top of it and found certain finger impressions that he later compared with finger impressions from Emily Charlesworth and found to be identical. He said that he also examined the fender, two steel fire-irons, the doors and the sink in the scullery but found no decipherable finger prints.

He said that when he later went to Scunthorpe Police station he examined a bread knife, a brass poker, a pair of brass fire tongs minus the handle, the handle of the tongs, the handle of a brass shovel and the shovel and a half-pint Guinness bottle, noting that there was a quantity of blood on all of the items other than the Guinness bottle. He said that he found fragmentary finger marks on the handle of the bread knife and on one of the legs of the fire tongs and on the Guinness bottle he found a fragmentary blurred finger mark and a small blurred portion of what appeared to be a blurred palm print. He said that there were no decipherable marks on the brass poker, on any portion of the fire shovel or on the handle of the tongs. He photographed the marks that he did find and said that he was of the impression the marks on the bread knife and the leg of the fire tongs were insufficiently clear for the purposes of comparison with other finger impressions. He then said that the marks on the Guinness bottle were too blurred to enable him to arrive at a definite conclusion as to their ownership but noted that he was inclined to be of the opinion that they were not those of either Emily Charlesworth or of the skip filler.

During the investigation into Emily Charlesworth's murder the police had followed up on reports of a man that had been going about offering to sharpen peoples scissors and knives and acting strangely and abusively and after the skip filler was acquitted the police renewed their search for him and later questioned him and determined that he was not responsible for Emily Charlesworth's murder.

In 1951 it was reported that a man that was suspected of the murder of Fanny Tinker at West Stowell and who committed suicide was strongly suspected of three other murders including that of Emily Charlesworth although the police said that they found no evidence to connect him with her murder.

The police were first called at 6.55am on 23 September 1945 after a Police War Reserve Constable who was on duty at Scunthorpe Police Station  received a telephone call from a woman that lived at 14 Ethel Terrace in Scunthorpe saying that the skip filler had asked her to inform the police that his housekeeper, Emily Charlesworth, was laying on the floor with her face covered in blood and wanted a doctor. The Constable then asked if it had been an accident but the woman said that she didn't know whether it was an accident or not, and so the policeman told her that the police would attend and asked her to tell the skip filler to get a doctor.

At 7am the police went to 4 Ravendale Street and found the front door locked. They then went round to the rear of the house and entered the yard gate which was partly open and as they were going towards the back of the house they saw the skip filler, who was the tenant, coming out of the doorway. He was noted as being in a very nervous condition and to be crying, and he said, 'The doctor has been and he says it is a matter for the police. I spoke to her and she never answered'. The police then went into the house through the back door and into the scullery and then through the connecting door into the living room or kitchen.

The police said that they then saw Emily Charlesworth on the floor of the living room in front of and near to the fireplace lying on her back with her arms and legs outstretched. They said that she was fully dressed with the exception of her left shoe which was stuck in the curb between the rail and the top of the curb near her head in front of the fireplace.

Emily Charlesworth's head was towards the window of the room on the west side and her feet towards the east. Her head was badly battered and the police report stated that it was obvious that it was a case of murder.

When the police then went to see the skip filler who had stayed outside and asked him what happened, he said, 'I came in this morning and found her laid there, her face covered with blood. I spoke to her and she didn't speak. She was alright when I left her about twenty past nine last night to go to work. The yard gate was open and the back door unfastened with the key inside when I came home'.

The police said that owing to the agitated state that the skip filler was in they suggested that he went back with the woman from 14 Ethel Terrace to her place which he did. The police then locked the back door and took possession of the key and then looked around the house and saw that all the doors and windows were secure and then went to a police box and called for the inspector and some detectives.

When the police first examined the front and rear of the house, they found no signs of forcible entry or any signs of footprints or unusual marks in the rear yard. There were also no signs of disturbance or bloodstains in the scullery.

When the police first examined the living room kitchen they saw that Emily Charlesworth's head was battered and found her false teeth, both the upper and lower full sets, laid on the rug near her head and her spectacles, with their frame broken, partly under the left side of her face. They noted that her wounds were on the left side of her head. They also found blood on her stockinged knees as though she had knelt in blood and a piece of bone, apparently from her skull, laid near the curb on the rug near her right foot.

The rug was covered with blood near her head and her hands were partly open with nothing in them or just near them. The front of the hearth was also covered in blood and a pair of blood-stained tongs were found stood up on the east side of the fireplace.

The police found that the walls of the room and articles on the table were spattered with blood.

They found a bent fire poker under the table near her body which was blood stained and an empty stout bottle also under the table.

The gas lamp which was suspended from a bracket above the table was found to be turned off, but it was later noted that there had been issues with the gas that meant that even when the money had run out in the meter that it still issued a small amount of gas that resulted in the lamp burning continually at a very low brightness even when the money had run out.

The table itself was laid and there was crockery on the table along with two milk bottles and a bread knife. The blade of the bread knife was bent right back and was bloodstained.

The doctor received a call at about 7am on Sunday 23 September 1945 stating that there had been an accident at 4 Ravendale Street and about ten minutes later he arrived. He said that when he arrived, he found the front door shut but saw two men standing at the corner of Ravendale Street and Robert Street and said that one of them approached him, the skip filler, and told him to go round to the back door. The skip filler then led the doctor round to the back into the ten-foot which was a passage to the back of the houses and showed him the doorway to 4 Ravendale Street. It was noted that the ten-foot was so named in Scunthorpe as all the back passages between houses of that type were ten feet wide and as such known as ten-foots.

When the doctor got to the back of the property, he walked in and then pushed open the kitchen door and saw Emily Charlesworth lying on the kitchen floor near the fireplace. He said that her face and head were battered beyond recognition and that she was obviously dead and a case of foul play and so he went to call the police. The doctor said that when he went off to call the police, he told the skip filler not to let anyone in. The doctor said that the skip filler was genuinely upset and mentioned to him that Emily Charlesworth had been his housekeeper for 27 years. However, when the doctor called the police, he was told that the police had already been informed and had already sent an officer to the scene.

A 69 year old engine driver who lived at 108 Ravendale Street said that he finished work at the Appleby Frodingham Steel Works in Scunthorpe at 6.02am and at about 6.10am he left in a bus that took him to Taylors, a chemists' shop in Robert Street where he alighted. He said that he then walked to Ravendale Street where he saw the skip filler come out of Robert Street. He said that the skip filler appeared to be crying and that he could not get a word out of him for a start but that the skip filler eventually said, 'My housekeeper is dead'. He said that the skip filler was trembling and could not light a cigarette. The engine driver said that he asked the skip filler 'Where do you live' and said that the skip filler replied, 'No.4 here'. The engine driver then said, 'If you are sure she is dead, you will have to get the police or a doctor. She might be in a fit'. The engine driver said that the skip filler then said, 'Who am I to get?' and the engine driver said, 'I told you'. The engine driver said that the skip filler then said, 'She has got some relations in Ethel Terrace' and the engine driver said, 'Well, go and call them up for a start and tell them to ring the police. We can't stand here like this'.

The skip filler then went off to Ethel Terrace whilst the engine driver stopped at the corner of Robert Street and waited for the skip filler to return and went he did he went home and called his son up for work and then went back to the corner of Robert Street where the skip filler was still standing, noting that he appeared more settled.

A moment later a woman from 8 Ravendale street came along and started talking to the skip filler about Emily Charlesworth's age, saying, 'Emily is 69'.

The doctor’s car then came up and stopped at the front of 4 Ravendale Street and the engine driver said that he then told the skip filler to tell the doctor that he would have to go round the back. He said that he told the skip filler that because when they had first met the skip filler had told him that Emily Charlesworth was lying in the back kitchen. The engine driver said that they then went round to the back of 4 Ravendale Street and that the doctor walked in first, followed by the skip filler who then started to roll up the blind in the kitchen room to give more light, stating that he rolled it up about half-way. He said that a few seconds later they both came out.

At about 6.05am on the Sunday 23 September the woman who lived at 8 Ravendale Street said that she was woken up by a workman's bus and that as she was laying there awake she heard the sound of the skip filler talking and heard him say, 'Something terrible has happened to my housekeeper'. She said that she heard him say that twice and then immediately got out of bed to look and saw the skip filler talking to a smaller man who was apparently deaf. She said that she then got back into bed and then a few minutes later got back out and looked out of her window and saw that the men had gone and then got back into bed. She said that she then heard the skip fillers voice again and then got up and got dressed and went to the front door and asked the skip filler what had happened and said that he replied, 'Emily has gone. Are you coming round?'. The woman said that she said yes and that the skip filler said, 'Shut the front door then', which she said she did and that by that time the doctor had arrived in his car outside 4 Ravensadle Street.

She said that all four of them then walked round the Ten Foot to the back of 4 Ravensdale Street and the skip filler opened the back door and that she and the doctor then entered. She said that there was no light on in the house and so the skip filler pulled up the blind a little so that the doctor could see. She said that a policeman then arrived shortly after and so she went off to 14 Ethel Terrace. She added that she had heard no unusual noises or screams coming from 4 Ravensdale street during the night.

At about 6.30am on the Sunday 23 September 1945, Emily Charlesworth's niece, who lived at 14 Ethel Terrace, said that she was awakened by somebody knocking at her back door and that when she got out of bed she found that it was the skip filler who then said to her, 'Oh, get up quick. Something awful has happened'. She said that whilst dressing , the skip filler kept shouting 'Hurry', and said that when she was dressed she went down and let him in. She said that he was very excited and upset, noting that he was wearing his working clothes and an old overcoat, and that she then asked him 'Whatever is the matter'.

She said that the skip filler was so upset that she could hardly get anything out of him, and said that he then said, 'Aunty is lying on the floor in a pool of blood, her face is disfigured'. She said that he sat in a chair moaning and then said, 'I don't like to say it, but it just looks as if she has been murdered'. The woman that lived with Emily Charlesworth's niece then came down the stairs and Emily Charlesworth's niece and the skip filler then went off to telephone the police and a doctor from a call box in Cole Street. She said that after calling the police she sent the skip filler back to Ravendale Street and then went back home for a drink of water and then went herself to 4 Ravendale Street.

She said that she saw the skip filler in the street and had a conversation with him about getting some first aid and then went off to Hinman Street where she thought a nurse lived but couldn't find her and so she went back to 4 Ravendale Street where she saw that the doctor had arrived. The woman said that she then decided to go into the house to see if she could do anything but said that the skip filler said, 'The doctor said it is a matter for the police' and so she didn't go into the house, and that a moment later the policeman arrived.

The woman that shared the house with Emily Charlesworth's niece, her sister, at 14 Ethel Terrace, said that at about 6.30pm on Sunday 23 September 1945 whilst in her front bedroom she heard her sister talking to someone at the back bedroom window and then recognised the voice as that of the skip filler, noting that he sounded distressed and agitated. She said that she slipped her dressing gown on and went downstairs and said that her sister then opened the back door and they saw the skip filler pacing about in the back yard. She said that he was so excited and upset that they could not tell what he was saying, but did hear him say, 'Emily is lying on the floor and there is blood all over. I'm sure she had gone, her face is in a terrible mess'. She said that he also said, 'Oh, I don't like to say it, but it looks as though she had been murdered'. She said that he also said, 'there's blood on the walls and curtains near the wireless. There's blood all over'.

She said that she and her sister then suggested that Emily Charlesworth might have had a stroke and knocked herself, noting that there was blood on the curtains and said that the skip filler replied, 'Oh, I don't know what to think'. She said that they suggested that the skip filler should then go and get a doctor but said that he said, 'No, I couldn't do it'. She said that she took that to mean that he wasn't in a state to go and telephone the police and then said, 'If you're not capable of phoning the police, my sister will do so', and said that her sister then left the house and then a few minutes after the skip filler also left, noting that before she left her sister had told the skip filler to go on to 4 Ravendale Street to be there when the doctor or police arrived.

The sister later added that Emily Charlesworth had told her that the skip filler had aggravated her by being so quiet in the house and said that she would leave him if he didn't 'buck himself up'.

At 8am on Sunday 23 September 1945, a detective went to 4 Ravendale Street with a constable and met the constable who was standing outside the premises and then went into the house by unlocking the backdoor with a key that the constable had given him. The detective said he then saw that the door leading from the scullery to the living room was open and that the gas tap of the gas bracket suspended from the centre of the ceiling in the living room was in the 'off' position. He said that there was a sharp hiss of escaping gas for a fraction of a second and that the sergeant that was with him then caused a penny to be placed in the gas meter to obtain a supply of gas to light the room.

After the police lit the gas, they made an examination of the room. The body of Emily Charlesworth was lying face upwards on the carpet lying parallel to the fender with her head pointing towards the window of the living room which looked out onto the back yard. Her feet were towards the wall of the opposite side of the living room and were 2ft 8in apart. Her left foot minus shoe was just underneath the sideboard and her right foot, which had it shoe on, was underneath an armchair and both feet were pointing outwards.

Her right arm was extended from her body with her palm upwards and her hand ten inches from her body. Her left upper arm was extended from her body, bent at the elbow, and the wrist was touching her body with the hand bent outwards.

He head was slightly inclined to the left and her face was mutilated beyond all recognition.

Her clothing was disarranged. She was wearing an overall that was ruffled up round her chest and her frock was ruffled up, the front of her dress at the bottom being level with her crutch and the sides level with her hips.

Her stocking tops were inside her knicker leg and showed no signs of disarrangement. She also had a garter on each leg, just above her knees.

A further examination after some photographs were taken revealed that the top of her knickers at the front were level with her groins and at the back they were about one inch lower. The police found a large patch of blood on each knee and on her right leg a patch of blood extended from the knee down the inside of her leg towards the calf.

The police found her left shoe, which was still fastened, trapped by the heel between the brass rail and the iron base of the fender. The left side of the shoe, with the fastening button, was uppermost and pointing towards the table.

The thick congealed blood and broken bone extended from the fender to her head and shoulders, where Emily Charlesworth was lying.

Emily Charlesworth's upper and lower dentures were found on the carpet unbroken.

A pair of spectacles, minus the lens, and one earpiece, were entangled in Emily Charlesworth's hair and the broken lens from the spectacles lay in the patch of concealed blood. The earpiece also laid on the rug near to Emily Charlesworth's head.

A brass poker was found on the floor beneath the table.

A pair of brass fire tongs, minus the handle were then found propped up on the left side of the fireplace.

The handle of a brass shovel was found in the fender with the handle resting on the brass end rail of the fender and the other end touching the hearth plate in a position indicating that it was attached to the shovel, however, when the police examined it, they found that they were detached.

The police found that the oven door was opened and turned completely back covering the aperture of the fireplace above the top bar. However, it was noted that the police later found out that Emily Charlesworth was in the habit of placing the oven door in that position before retiring to bed to prevent soot from dropping on to the hearth plate.

The police then found an empty 'Guinness' bottle beneath the table.

Small pieces of skull bone were found on the floor in the fender and one piece of skull was found stuck on the curtains.

A metal part of a suspender was found on the floor near to the door leading to the upstairs bedrooms.

On a table, the police found two milk bottles, an empty pint bottle, two knives, two cups and saucers, a teapot, a teapot stand, a clock laying face upwards, a sugar basin, a milk jug, two plates, a candlestick and a box of matches, a shopping bag with a purse on top, a spectacles case and a spoon and a bread knife.

The bread knife was bloodstained, and the blade was bent in the centre, almost at right angles.

The teapot contained what appeared to be a small quantity of cold tea and the cups and saucers had the appearance of having been washed, but there was a small amount of fluid with a dirty colour in one of the saucers.

When the police examined the clock, they found that it was going and that the alarm had been fixed for 6am.

The police found splashes of blood on all four walls at a height varying from ground level to the ceiling and there were also splashes of blood on the tablecloth, crockery, curtains, wireless set, cupboard doors, fireplace and on the inner side of the oven door.

When the police examined the carpet in front of the fireplace, they found that it was turned up in one corner under Emily Charlesworth. The police also found that the cloth on the table was ruffled slightly at the edge nearest to the fireplace.

There were considerable blood splashes on the enamelled hearth plate and some of the blood splashes had been smeared.

When the police moved Emily Charlesworth's body at 12.45pm on Sunday 23 September 1945, on the carpet in the space made by the crook of Emily Charlesworth's left elbow, they found the handle of the fire tongs.

Also, beneath her buttocks, the police found the brass bolt and screw from the handle of the tongs. The police noted that there were no signs of other disturbance in the room and that it appeared that Emily Charlesworth's body had obviously been moved.

It was noted that there were no signs that Emily Charlesworth had been raped and that no fingerprint impressions or other clues were found.

After searching the room, the police took possession of the following items for examination:

  1. Brass poker.
  2. Fire tongs.
  3. Fire tongs handle.
  4. Bolt and screw.
  5. Shovel, brass.
  6. Shovel handle.
  7. Left shoe of Emily Charlesworth.
  8. Bread knife.
  9. Shopping bag and purse.
  10. Duster, or piece of blood-stained cloth.
  11. Upper and lower dentures.
  12. Spectacles of Emily Charlesworth.
  13. Stout bottle.
  14. Empty pint bottle.
  15. Metal part of suspender.
  16. One wooden spill.
  17. Two pieces of suspender.

At 9.15pm that day, the police took possession of the skip fillers clothes which consisted of:

  • 1 Jacket.
  • 1 pair of trousers.
  • 1 pair of boots.
  • 1 pair of stockings.
  • 1 cap.
  • 1 overcoat.
  • 1 shirt.
  • 1 vest.
  • 1 pair of pants.
  • 1 waistcoat.
  • 1 handkerchief.

The carpet and some other items were later taken and at 11am on Saturday 29 September 1945, the police went back to 4 Ravendale Street and took possession of the following items:

  • 2 milk bottles.
  • 2 table knives.
  • 2 cups.
  • 2 saucers.
  • 1 teapot.
  • 1 teapot stand.
  • Clock.
  • Sugar basin.
  • Milk jug.
  • Two plates.
  • Candle stick and box of matches.
  • Two teaspoons.
  • Spectacles in case.
  • White tablecloth.
  • Six hair pins.

On Saturday 29 September 1945 the police took two samples of blood from the skip filler and later the same day received two samples of blood from the shopping bag and the purse.

The assistant manager to the Borough of Scunthorpe Gas Department gave evidence regarding the gas mantle in the living rrom. He said, 'At 10.15am Wednesday, 10th October, 1945, with the police, I visited No. 4 Ravendale Street, Scunthorpe. The gas mantle in the living room was lighted and gave a normal bright light. We left the house and returned at 2pm when we found that the gas was still burning but very low. We remained in the house for 15  minutes and although the gas tap was turned full on only a very dim light came from the mantle. This indicated to me that the meter was allowing gas to pass through to the internal supplies without any coins being inserted in the meter. I took the meter from the house on Tuesday, 23 October 1945, and examined it. I tested it and discovered that the prepayment valve was not properly closing thereby allowing a small amount of gas to pass through into the supply pipes. The amount of gas being passed by the meter is sufficient to give a dim light but not sufficient to illuminate the mantle on the burner. This small light would remain on for an indefiite period unless put out by an outside source, such as a strong draught'.

When a detective examined the lighting in the room where Emily Charlesworth was found dead, he said, 'At 10pm on Thursday, 18th October 1945, I visited 4, Ravendale Street, Scunthorpe. I turned on the tap of the gas bracket which was suspended from the ceiling in the living room and for about 5 seconds there was a hiss of escaping gas. I applied a light to the gas mantle and thereupon lit it. Almost immediately the intensity of the light decreased to a very dim blue light and then remained constant. It was dark at the time and with the blind drawn it was only possible to discern objects in the room when close to them. I left the house and returned at 9am on Friday, 19th October 1945. I entered the house and found that the gas light was still alight and that the intensity was the same as when I had left the house on the previous night. It was daylight and with the blind fully drawn it was possible to see objects in the room plainer than when it was dark outside. With the blind curled up about 6 inches at the bottom articles could be seen very plainly'.

At 11.30am on Thursday 4 October, at the request of the skip fillers defence solicitor, the police went back to 4 Ravendale Street and took possession of the oven door, a lower oven shelf and the fender.

A thorough examination was made of 4 Ravendale Street for finger impressions on Tuesday 25 September 1945, but none were found.

On 24 September 1945 the police took the skip fillers fingerprints and at about 11.30pm on Tuesday 25 September 1945, the police took a palm impression from him for comparison purposes. Later that day the police took finger scrapings from the skip filler, with his consent.

On 25 September 1945, a doctor with the Forensic Science Laboratory in Nottingham who had examined the contents of Emily Charlesworth's stomach said that the contents consisted mainly of bread and butter and that the starch from the bread showed practically no trace of digestion. He reported that the bulkier elements from the lower end of the small intestines consisted of uncooked apple and apple peal and added that only a small portion was detected in the contents of her caecum.

On 1 October 1945, the doctor presented further findings as below:

  1. The blood of Emily Charlesworth belonged to Group O.
  2. All the bloodstains on the fire irons and carpet also belonged to group O.
  3. Small splashes of human blood on both purse and bag of Emily Charlesworth had been ringed by the doctor in red crayon.
  4. No bloodstains were detected on the skip fillers clothing. His blood belonged to Group O. His shirt and underclothing had been worn for some days.
  5. Vaginal smears from Emily Charlesworth - no seminal stains present.
  6. Fingernails from Emily Charlesworth - nothing of evidential value. Fingernail scrapings from the skip filler - nothing of evidential value.
  7. Ashes from fire - nothing of evidential value.

A professor carried out a post-mortem on Emily Charlesworth at 3,30pm on Sunday 23 September 1945.

When he examined Emily Charlesworth's clothing, he stated that her clothing was blood stained, dishevelled and torn, apparently the result of endeavours to expose or gain access to Emily Charlesworth's genitals. He said that her left shoe was missing, and that Emily Charlesworth had been wearing a pair of stockings that showed blood stains on the knees as though she had knelt in blood. He said that her stockings were supported by a pair of garters which were in position and that she had been wearing a pair of pink knickers which were bloodstained but not torn and which had been pulled down at the waist. He said that she had been wearing a pair of combinations that were blood stained and that had been ripped by force. Also, her corsets were grossly torn, and he said that considerable force must have been used. She also had on a green knitted jumper, a wine-coloured dress, and a wrap over pinafore.

Her clothing was removed without cutting and kept for examination.

Emily Charlesworth was described as a grey haired, rather frail old lady, about 70 years of age and her post-mortem revealed the following injuries:

General

  1. A large bruise over the back of her left shoulder blade.
  2. Ante-mortem abrasions due to the shoulder strap on her left shoulder being pulled and tugging of her under garments at a lower level then the shoulder.
  3. Bruising on the outer aspect of her left shoulder.
  4. A large area of bruising on the outer aspect of her left upper arm.
  5. Extensive bruising and abrasions on the back of her left hand and forearm. The bruising on the back of her hands involved practically all her fingers as well.
  6. Bruising in the left infra-clavicular fossa.
  7. Bruising in the right infra-clavicular fossa.
  8. A small punctured laceration of the right upper arm.
  9. A small bruise on the front of her right wrist. Abrasion and bruising on the inner aspect of her right hand.
  10. A small bruise on the inner aspect of her left lower leg, two inches above her ankle.

Face and Neck

  1. There were areas of bruising on the front right side of her neck.
  2. Bruises and two large abrasions on the left side of her neck, which could have been caused by fingernails. In addition to the two large abrasions there were several smaller abrasions on the left side and front of her neck.
  3. There was no face left. The region of her face was represented by a large cavity with strands of skin at intervals stretched across it. Not a single unfractured bone of her face remained and the fractures included multiple fractures of the lower jaw. In the mass of fragments bone, skin and muscle, the doctor recovered her two eyeballs, which were completely detached from the optic nerves and which retained only partially the eyelids. It was possible to see that at the time of death, her pupils were equal and dilated, and that there was some conjunctional petechiae in both eyes. The injuries to her face had obviously been caused by two different types of weapon. There were numerous clean-cut incised wounds, the majority of which appeared to run from right to left. In addition to these, however, there were injuries caused by a blunt instrument or instruments. On the last group, however, there were also injuries caused by blunt violence which in the doctor’s opinion had been caused post-mortem. In her mutilated face, the doctor said that he was able to distinguish Emily Charlesworth's tongue and partially to reconstruct the limits of her mouth. It was noted that it was clear that her tongue had been protruded, as shown by the congestion of the tip of her tongue and a bite bruise that was present. There were also bite bruises on the edge of her tongue. Lacerations on the floor of her mouth were consistent with having been caused by fingernails. There was a bruise on the dorsum of her tongue, such as could have been caused by pressure of the fingers, when thrust in the mouth. By passing the finger down the back of the throat, the doctor ascertained that there was a fracture of her hyoid bone.

Internal Examination

Dissection revealed bruises which could have been caused by finger pressure in the left omo-hyoid muscle and left sternomastoid muscle, and right infra hyoid muscles. The hyoid bone was fractured and as already noted, there was also a fracture of the hyoid cartilage.

Skull, Scalp, Brain and Meninges

The whole of the left side of her skull was fragmented. There were fractures of the right side of the frontal bone, but the damage was small compared with that of the left. The left half of her frontal bone, left parietal bone, left temporal bone and a portion of the left half of the occipital bone were badly comminuted. There was a large amount of bruising into the left temporal, bruising into the scalp on the top of her head and also into the scalp, back and right side of her head, pointing to the head having been hit, on the left side, whilst the right side and back of her head was in contact with the ground or some flat surface. Practically no damage to her brain had been done although there was great comminution of the floor of her scalp.

It was noted that considerable blood had been lost and that the blood that remained was fluid and unclotted.

There was also a considerable quantity of blood in the lower end of her trachea in the two main bronchi but it was the opinion of the doctor that that had entered post mortem, noting that it was unmixed and had froth.

Chest Wall

No abrasions or bruises were seen by the doctor on the skin of the chest wall, however, he said that there was gross damage and fracture of the ribs on the right side of her chest, with the factures being ante-mortem, noting that there were small extra vasations of blood into the soft tissues at the sites of the fractures.

Intestines

In the small intestines, the doctor found evidence of two meals. One pointing to the presence of some fat or butter and an earlier meal showing the presence of some vegetable material such as apple skin. He added that he could find no evidence of the vegetable matter having passed into her caecum.

It was noted that Emily Charlesworth had an unruptured hymen, and that there was no evidence that she had been interfered with.

Conclusions

The doctor stated that Emily Charlesworth had been healthy but that her system showed some senile change. He stated that in addition to the gross injuries inflicted on her head and face that could have been caused by a sharp cutting instrument such as a knife, together with some blunt instrument or instruments, that it was quite clear that Emily Charlesworth had suffered manual strangulation. He stated that it was also quite clear that she had received some of her injuries to her head and face prior to manual strangulation and had received further injuries to her head and face after she was dead.

Cause of Death

Her cause of death was stated as having been due to manual strangulation, accelerated by shock from gross injuries to her face and head. It was noted that Emily Charlesworth had put up a fight for her life and had endeavoured to ward off the blows directed at her, which was shown by the bruising on the back of her hands, more particularly her left hand. The conclusion noted that the injuries to her ribs were consistent with her assailant having fallen upon her.

In addition, the doctor informed the police superintendent that the injuries that he saw were the most brutal injuries that he had seen in the whole of his experience as a pathologist.

At 9.15am on Sunday 23 September 1945, the police saw the skip filler at 14 Ethel Terrace and said that he appeared to have been crying and was very distressed and nervous. The police introduced themselves and said that when they explained to him that they understood that he had found Emily Charlesworth in the house he said, 'Yes, it’s a great shock to me, she was alright when I left at 9.30pm last night'. The police then asked him how he found Emily Charlesworth and the skip filler said, 'I discovered it when I came home from work this morning about 6.15am. I called out 'Emily' then I saw her lying there'. The police then took a statement respecting the circumstances leading up to him finding Emily Charlesworth dead.

The police asked the skip filler whether the gate at the back of the house was locked when he left for work and the skip filler said, 'I can't say. I know I closed and bolted it when I came home from work yesterday morning.  The police then asked the skip filler whether the back gate was usually open in the daytime and the skip filler said, 'No, it is nearly always kept closed and locked'.

The skip filler was then asked whether Emily Charlesworth locked up at the back before or after he left for work and the skip filler said, 'Sometimes before and sometimes after. I sometimes lock up, but I didn't last night. I wished I had now'.

The police said that they then asked the skip filler whether he or Emily Charlesworth drank beer or stout or anything like it and the skip filler said, 'Oh no, she never drank, the last I had would be about three weeks ago'. He also said that he never brought any home and when asked what kind of drink he drank when he did drink, he said, 'Mild or bitter'. The skip filler was then asked if he ever went to the Oswald public house, but he said 'No'.

When the skip filler was asked whether Emily Charlesworth had had any supper, he said, 'Just a cup of tea'. When he was then asked whether Emily Charlesworth had had any dinner or tea he said, 'I don't know. I wasn't up, I suppose she would have the same as me for dinner and a bit of bread and butter for tea'.

When he was asked whether Emily Charlesworth had washed up the supper things before he had left for work, the skip filler said, 'Sometimes. I don't remember if she did last night'.

The skip filler was then asked whether Emily Charlesworth had had the candle and clock ready to take upstairs when he had left and he said, 'No'.

He was then asked whether the clothes he was wearing at the time were the clothes that he had worn to work, and the skip filler said 'Yes'.

After the police finished questioning the skip filler, they left him at 14 Ethel Terrace and Emily Charlesworth's niece then went to identify Emily Charlesworth's body, or rather her dress, right shoe and green woollen jumper and other items, noting that at that time Emily Charlesworth's face was bandaged owing to her injuries. Emily Charlesworth's niece said that Emily Charlesworth had been employed as a housekeeper to the skip filler for as long as she could remember.

Emily Charlesworth's body was also identified by a woman who lived at 37 Newland Avenue in Scunthorpe at about 8.30pm on Sunday 23 September 1945. She had identified her by her dress and clothes as her face was bandaged as a result of her injuries.

The police later spoke to a 29-year-old spinster who lived at 81 West Street in Scunthorpe who said that she last saw Emily Charlesworth at 4 Ravendale street when she called there between 3pm and 4pm. She said that Emily Charlesworth spoke to her about selling tickets for a harvest festival supper and told her that the skip filler had called downstairs at dinner time for a cup of tea whilst and that she had taken him up a cup of tea and a piece of apple pie, noting that she didn't take him up his dinner up and that what she had taken up to him was sufficient to last him till tea time. The woman noted that the alarm clock was on the table when she was there, lying on its back.

The woman noted that Emily Charlesworth always locked up the back door before the skip filler left for work when he was on night shift. She said that she stayed there for a week and said that it was always left locked and that the garden gate was always bolted and had a brick placed behind it.

A 79-year-old bed ridden elderly lady who had lived at 1 Ravendale street said that Emily Charlesworth came to see her at 4.15pm on Saturday 22 September 1945 and spoke to her for a few minutes before leaving.

Another woman, aged 49, who lived at 24 Newland Drive in Scunthorpe said that at 6pm on Saturday 22 September 1945 that she saw Emily Charlesworth standing at her front door and passed the time of day with her.

The police report states that after the discovery of Emily Charlesworth's murdered body, that immediate house to house enquiries were made in the vicinity by local police officers, as well as at coach stations, licensed premises, bus and railway stations, military units, Italian prisoner of war camps, Irish hostels, common lodging houses and other likely places to trace any person likely to have bloodstained clothing.

The report also noted that workmates and relatives of the skip filler were also contacted but that no tangible information was received.

The police report noted that the assailant must have been a homicidal maniac in view of the multiple injuries he inflicted upon Emily Charlesworth.

The inquest into Emily Charlesworth's death was opened at 2.30pm on 24 September 1945 and after evidence ws given by some people, including the skip filler who spoke of finding her body, the inquest was adjourned until 2pm on Monday 22 October 1945.

The police noted that there was no clear motive as no money had been stolen and there had been no attempt to steal any. The report noted that it was obvious that Emily Charlesworth's body had been moved after her death and that it was thought that that had been done in order to suggest that an attempt had been made to rape her.

It was noted that Emily Charlesworth was known locally as a harmless old lady who had looked after the skip filler as a housekeeper for the past 27 years and it was said that there was no reason to believe that any person was vindictive towards her.

The report stated that the brutal injuries that had been inflicted were such as to suggest that either the assailant was a homicidal maniac or a person who had suddenly gone mad and was bereft of their senses.

The report also suggested that the absence of a motive suggested that Emily Charlesworth might have been murdered by someone in mistake for some other woman who had gone into the back entrance of 4 Ravendale Street sometime between 9pm and 11pm on Saturday 22 September 1945.

The report noted that at the onset there was no reason to suspect the skip filler as he had gone to work on the evening, Saturday 22 September 1945 and had found the body of Emily Charlesworth when he had arrived home the following morning shortly after 6pm.

It was noted that hundreds of persons were interviewed and enquiries were made by all local officers at hospitals, doctors, lodging houses, military camps, RAF camps, Irish hostels, prisoner of war camps, railway stations, taxi-cab proprietors, bus and coach stations, clubs, factories, salvage dumps and incinerators, public houses, hotels, barbers, Ministry of Food offices, National Registration Offices, laundries and dry cleaners.

The report added that all houses in Scunthorpe were being pursued and all known local thieves were brought in and interrogated as to their movements and their clothing examined but stated that no evidence was obtained to implicate any particular person.

The report added that sight was not lost of the fact that the murder might have been committed by a frenzied woman and a check-up in that direction was made without result.

The report stated that various articles of soldiers' clothing, obtained from soldiers who visited the town and bearing what appeared to be bloodstains were sent off for analysis, but that no evidence was obtained to implicate any particular person and the police said that the suggestion that Emily Charlesworth's murderer was a stranger was gradually eliminated.

The police report noted that all of the blood stains were Group O and that no bloodstains were found on the skip fillers clothing, with the doctor that examined them stating that he was satisfied that the shirt and underclothing that the skip filler had been wearing, he had been wearing for some days.

It was also considered that the skip filler might have committed the murder in his pyjamas, but the police said that they examined two pairs of his pyjamas and found no bloodstains on them.

The police report considered the possibility that the skip filler might have destroyed any bloodstained clothes but said that he strongly denied that and the police said that they had no evidence to the contrary. The report also considered that he might not have got blood on his clothes, but noted that the fact that there was blood on all four walls made that unlikely and additionally noted that that was a point that the defence would pick up on and added that they were continuing their search to find any bloodstained clothes.

The police said that they went to 4 Ravendale Street again on 27 September 1945 at about 10.25am and saw the skip filler and some of Emily Charlesworth's relatives and asked the skip filler whether Emily Charlesworth always locked up the back door before he went on night duty and the skip filler replied, 'She always locked up the back door before I went, but I cannot remember if she locked it up when I left last Saturday night (22 September 1945)'. The police then said, 'I want you to remember if you can because it is very important. There is no doubt you were greatly upset, but you were the last person to see her alive and the first person to discover the body, and I shall have to get more particulars from you. When you came in last Saturday morning (23 September 1945) and discovered the body, will you tell me exactly what you did?'. The skip filler then said, 'I found the gate open and the back door unlocked. The gas light was on but going down, so I turned it out. I looked down and saw Emily was dead'.

The police then asked, 'How could you see her if you put the light out first?', and the skip filler said, I saw her alright, and it upset me, so I ran and stopped a man in the street. I've told you all I know, and I cannot remember anything else'.

The police then asked the skip filler where the back-door key was and he said, 'On the lock on the inside'. The skip filler then started crying and said that he could not remember anymore and then he stopped crying.

The police then said, 'Why don't you see a doctor who may prescribe a tonic?', and the skip filler said, 'I don't want to see a doctor, because I want to go to work'. The police then said, 'It would be better if you did see a doctor before you went to work. I should like you to make a few notes as to what you saw before I see you. This may help you to remember what happened, because I only want the truth'. The skip filler then replied, 'I can't write very well', and the police said, 'It does not matter about the writing so long as you put down everything that comes to you. I think it would help you to remember what happened. The skip filler then said, 'I want to get to work and get cracking'. The police then said, 'Well, I have told you what I think and it is in the interests of everyone that you should remember everything as such a terrible sight is bound to impress on your mind'.

The police report stated that the skip filler again started, or tried, to cry, and said, 'I would tell you if I could remember'.

A relative who was there then said, 'Why, you can remember what happened before Aunty's death. You want to be a man and not have the mind of a child'. The police then left.

Later, on 1 October 1945, at about 2.10pm, the police saw the skip filler and took him to an office on the first floor and asked him a number of questions, and said that all he would say was that he could not remember ad that he didn't kill her. The police then asked him if it would refresh his memory if they all went back to Ravendale Street which they then all did and the skip filler showed the police how he entered the house on the Sunday morning, 23 September 1945. They said that he became very excited and kept saying, 'I left her in the best of spirits. I didn't murder her. I didn't even touch her'. The police then said, 'No one has said you did murder her. I only want the truth, and you must remember. You keep saying 'I don't remember' and, frankly, I don't believe you. I want you to come back to the police station so that I can take a statement from you'.

The police said that they then left the house and went by car back to the police station noting that the skip filler became very agitated and said, 'I did not murder her. Are you going to charge me?'.  The police said that they replied, 'I am not going to charge you. I only want you to tell me the truth'.

They got back to the police station at 3.30pm and they went into the inspectors office where the skip filler made a statement which he finished at about 12 midnight, having refreshments between 7.30pm and 8pm. The police noted that at times the skip filler became very distressed and kept saying, 'I did not kill her. why do you accuse me?'.

The police said that they told the skip filler repeatedly that he was not being accused but questioned, and noted that as he left the police station after being questioned and was about to get into a police car, he said, ''Shake hands sir, you have been very kind to me, but I did not do it'. The policeman shook hands with him and said, 'I shall see you tomorrow after you have had a night's rest, as I still have a number of questions to ask you'. The skip filler then said, 'I wish it was all over and I could remember. I can't remember touching her. I couldn’t help it. I don't remember'.

At about 11.30am on Tuesday 2 October 1945, the police saw the skip filler again at Scunthorpe police station and they went upstirs and the skip filler then said, 'I don't want to go down the line or get a life sentence for it. I can't remember what I've done. The policeman then said, 'I have grave suspicions that you know more about it than what you told us yesterday. I am going to question you on matters that want clearing up. Before I do so, I am going to caution you that you are not obliged to say anything, but anything you do say will be taken down and may be given in evidence'.

The skip filler then said, 'I'll write it down myself and I would like you to spell some of the words for me. I am sorry I done it and all the trouble that has been caused'. The skip filler then wrote down his statement, which commenced at 11.55am and finished at 2.58pm with a break for lunch between 1.30pm and 2pm.

After writing his statement the skip filler said, 'Can I go home now. I won't hurt anyone and I won't hurt myself. I want to go home and start work. I've got me job to go to', but the police told him that he would be detained.

When he was later charged with murder he said, 'I told the inspector all I know. It was the truth'.

The skip fillers statement read [with spelling errors]:

I am very sorry as to what has happened and all the trouble which has been caused. When I came downstairs she said something wich upset. She thought I was not going to work but I told her I was. I don't think she believed me. I became mad and my mind became blank. She picked up a knife and I thought she was going to strike me. This made me mad and I don't remember what I did then. When I saw her lying on the floor it came to me what I had done. I became very frightened has to what would happened to me and I started crying and became upset. I was wearing my working clothes. I could not touch her because I was to frightened so I put my overcoat and cap on. I picked up my bottle of tea and my snap and put them in my pocket. I wanted to get out of the place as quick as I could. I did not meet anybody. I got on a bus someone on the bus passed the time of night. I clocked in about five minutes to ten. If I had not gone to work I knew they would be after me. I clocked off about quarter to six. I did not tell my friend, my work mate or the other workmates. I was to freightened. I did not burn anything in the furnace. I got home on Sunday morning about ten past six and I went indoors by the Ten foot. The yard gate was open and I walked up the yard to the back door. It was unlocked and I walked in. The gas was still on. I must have left it on when I went out. I was freightened and wanted to get out of the place. I turned the gas off and then saw poor Emily lying on the carpet by the fireplace on the floor. Her face was covered in blood. I could see by the light from the window. This upset me and made me sob and cry as I knew what I had done. I went out saw a man. I told him what I had seen. The niece phoned the police and the doctor. I was to freightened to go to the police station as I knew they would keep me. The doctor Police came and I was so upset that I did not know what I was doing. Even now I cannot understand why I done it. She loved me and I loved her. I never stole anything and I have hurt a hair on her head the whole time I have lived with her poor Emily I must have been mad when I done it as I Honestly don't know what happened and I have suffered ever since it must be my head I know nothing about the stout bottle. It may have been about But I have never seen it and I've never taken any bottle beer indoors. It is about three weeks since I had a drink. The Chief Inspector told me before I wrote this that I was not obliged to write anything But anything I did write may be given in evidence. I understand this and I only Wanted to tell the whole truth as it has worried me and I had to tell someone or else I would have gone mad. I feel better for telling the truth and I cannot say what made me do it. Poor Emily she was good to me and the last ne I wanted to hurt. I have never hurt a fly or anyone. Why I done it I don't know. she was like a mother to me and I was a good son to her'.

When the police went to Messrs. John Lysaght Ltd, Normanby Park Steelworks in Scunthorpe and spoke to the skip fillers work mate, another skip filler, the work mate said that the skip filler arrived at work at about 9.55pm on Saturday 22 September 1945 and that he appeared to be normal and was in his sight during the night and still there when he left at 5.40am the following morning.

The chief timekeeper employed at the steelworks produced the skip fillers clock cards which showed that he had clocked in at 9.52pm on Saturday 22 September 1945 and then clocked out again at 5.45am the following morning.

Another employee at the steelworks said that he saw the skip filler working there on the Saturday night, but said that he noticed nothing unusual.

The man that the skip filler mentioned seeing on the bus said that he didn't notice the skip filler on the bus, but said that he was on the bus.

The police also questioned a 30 year old woman who lived in North End in Keadby who said that she had been in the Ten Foot at the rear of 4 Ravendale Street from about 10.45pm until about midnight and said that she didn't notice anyone enter or leave the back yard of 4 Ravendale Street. Her story was corroborated by a man who said that they left at about 11pm. An 18-year-old girl from 25 Avenue said that she saw a couple outside the gate of 4 Ravendale Street just after 10.30pm on Saturday 22 September 1945 as she passed by.

In a further statement Emily Charlesworth's niece said that the skip filler stayed with her at 14 Ethel Terrace on the nights of 23 and 24 September 1945 and said that on the Monday morning, 24 September 1945, at about 8am, whilst the skip filler was apparently asleep, she heard him talking and distinctly heard him say, 'I'll get you this time'.

The police report stated that at the onset of the enquiry, it appeared that he assailant had entered 4 Ravendale Street by the unlocked back door sometime after the skip filler had left the premises on the Saturday night and that although there was no evidence of damage to the private parts of Emily Charlesworth, from the condition of her clothing and the gross mutilation of her face, that it appeared that the assailant had a sex motive and that Emily Charlesworth had resisted and attempted to scream and as a result had received some injury to her head and face prior to manual strangulation and had received further injuries to her head and face, after she was dead and was lying on the floor.

However, the report stated that on closer examination, it was revealed that there was not a great deal of disorder in the room and that Emily Charlesworth's body had been moved and so arranged as to suggest an attempt had been made to interfere with her and that the brass shovel had been place in the fender in such a position as to indicate it had been attached to the brass rod. It was noted that examination of the brass rod revealed that it had undoubtedly been used to cause some of the injuries to Emily Charlesworth's head as there was blood etc., adhering to the broken end and its appearance suggested it had been broken off from the shovel for some considerable time.

The police report stated that in addition to those observations, the following was discovered:

  1. The carpet may have been turned up at the corner when the body was moved after death.
  2. The handle of the fire tongs was found under the crook of Emily Charlesworth's left elbow after her body had been removed.
  3. Emily Charlesworth's left shoe may have been placed by her assailant between the brass rail and iron base of fender. It was considered doubtful that it could have become wedged in that position during the course of a struggle.
  4. The brass bolt and screw were found under Emily Charlesworth's buttocks.
  5. The blow to Emily Charlesworth's scalp pointed to her head being struck when the right side and back of her head had been lying on the floor.
  6. That the skip filler did not tread on bottle, tongs or false teeth by the table when he alleged he turned off the gas. It was thought that if he had not known that Emily Charlesworth's body was there that he would probably had trodden on some of those articles and his boots would have become bloodstained.
  7. That the skip filler, according to his own statement, discovered Emily Charlesworth's body shortly after 6am, yet the police were not informed by telephone via Emily Charlesworth's niece until a few minutes before 7am.
  8. That when questioned by the police about the finding of Emily Charlesworth's body, the skip filler had kept saying, 'I can't remember'.
  9. That the skip filler first saw the gas light on when he entered the room and then immediately turned it off and then afterwards saw Emily Charlesworth's body lying on the floor, covered with blood. The police report stated that that was extremely doubtful as at that hour of the morning it would have been just breaking daylight and that even if a small amount of light was coming from the bottom of the window and the paper blind, it would hardly be sufficient to see Emily Charlesworth's face covered with blood. The police report noted that it might have been that the skip filler had forgotten to turn out the light when he had left on the Saturday night.
  10. That the skip filler had had a conversation with Emily Charlesworth's niece about first aid treatment even though he already knew that Emily Charlesworth was dead.
  11. That the skip filler told the police that he closed and bolted the garden gate when he came home from work on the Saturday morning, as was his habit but did not do it on the Sunday morning. The police report questioned whether that was because he knew that the body was there?
  12. That the skip filler did not lock the back door an bolt the garden gate when he left on the Saturday night, as was his usual practice.

The police report noted that the points caused them to suspect the skip filler, particularly as no finger impressions or other clues were found at the scene of the crime.

The police report stated that the skip filler would have had ample time between 8pm and 9.20pm on the Saturday night to have committed  the murder and to have then carefully re-arrange Emily Charlesworth's body so as to suggest that it had been done by a stranger.  The report further noted that the absence of finger impressions and the fact that, so far, they could not trace any blood stained clothing to the skip filler, could have been accounted by him having got rid of them before he left the house as it was thought that he had certainly had time.

The police report noted that they could not imagine any stranger committing the murder and then re-arranging the body, brass shovel etc., before leaving the house.

The report also noted that Emily Charlesworth was 69 years old and as far as was known had no enemies and that her age and appearance rather discounted the possibility of sex being the motive.

The police report noted that enquiries were still being pursued to discover as to how the empty Guinness bottle came to be on the premises, but also thought that it was unlikely that any progress would be made in that direction. The report further stated that it was a possibility that the skip filler had picked it up in the street and placed it there. to suggest that a stranger was responsible for the murder. The report noted that it was a common occurrence for beer bottles to be left in the Ten Foot passages on Saturday nights and noted that it was unfortunate that the skip fillers finger or palm prints were not found on the bottle.

The skip filler was tried, but after his statement was disallowed as evidence, he was acquitted.

After the skip filler was acquitted, the police turned their attention to another man that had been seen in the area offering to sharpen knives, but after questioning him, he was ruled out.

It was noted that in the early stages of the investigation into the murder of Emily Charlesworth, that at about 3.30pm on or about 20 or 21 September 1945, a scissor grinder called at a shop in Mary Street, Scunthorpe and asked if there were any scissors or knives to be sharpened. He was described as being between 5ft 8in to 5ft 9in tall, 45 years of age, with a slim build, a fresh complexion, a thin face with a small fair moustache and dressed in a soiled fawn raincoat, dirty brown tweed cap and dirty black shoes. It was heard that when he was told that there were no scissors to be sharpened, he left the shop.

Later, at about 3pm on 21 September 1945, a similar person called at the residence of the steward of the Highfield House Club in Francis Street in Scunthorpe, and walked straight into the scullery through the open door and said to the stewardess, 'Have you any scissors or knives to grind?'. It was heard that when he received a negative reply, he said, 'It's not knives I want to grind, it's food', and he then left the house.

It was noted that in both of those instances the man had not had a scissor grinding machine and that further more, both of the houses where he called at were in close proximity to Ravendale Street.

It was noted that enquiries to trace the man ceased upon the arrest of the skip filler, but that after he was acquitted and the enquiry re-opened, it was considered desirable that he should be traced and interviewed with a view to establishing whether or not he had any connection with the murder.

The police then later determined that a similarly described man had been in the habit of visiting shop-keepers in Scunthorpe during the day-time asking for scissors to grind and that upon being informed in the negative, he had become abusive and adopted a threatening attitude, and had, in some instances had to be ejected from the premises.

It was also found out that when the man had consumed intoxicating drink that he had become more abusive and that in one instance he had been refused service in The Bluebell Hotel and on that occasion was heard to say that he would strangle the barmaid, using the phrase, 'If you come round to this side I will bloody well throttle you'.

It was found that on another occasion he had visited a confectioners' shop and restaurant and that when he was asked what he wanted he had said, 'Nothing. I can stop here as long as I like. I thought this was a cake shop not a bloody restaurant. I'm an old soldier you know'. He then refused to leave the shop and was in possession of part of a pair of fire-tongs which he waved about but did not attempt to strike anyone. He was eventually ejected by one of the male employees.

The police later identified the man as a 58-year-old who was 5ft 4in tall and with a thin build and of no fixed abode. He was determined to have been a casual visitor to the lodging house at 2 Manley Street in Scunthorpe.

By the time he was identified by the police he had left the district, but it was found that he was known to the police in Darlington.

It was then determined that from 6 December 1945 to 24 August 1945 that he was employed as a spare boiler man at the Memorial Hospital at Darlington but had been dismissed for being found drunk at work. It was then found that he had been residing at Airdale House lodgings where he was often found in the company of a scissor grinder. When the police questioned the wife of the lodging proprietor, she informed them that that prior to the scissor grinder leaving Darlington on or about 14 September 1945 that he had been well behaved and respectable, but that when he had returned on 3 December 1945 his conduct was so offensive and threatening that she was obliged to order him out of the lodging house on or about 12 or 13 December 1945 and said that she was of the opinion that he was mentally unbalanced.

The scissor grinder was then traced to York where he slept the night of 3 January 1946 at a common lodging house at 11 Walmgate. It was heard that on that particular evening he had obviously consumed too much intoxicating drink and the lodging house proprietor, who the police said was a very reliable person, said that he had shouted out in his sleep, 'The old buggar wanted killing'. When the lodging house proprietor was warned of the serious consequences that evidence like that might have, the lodging house proprietor persisted and stated that in fact he had heard the scissor grinder use the expression on two occasions. The lodging house proprietor added that the scissor grinder had also told him that he had had considerable mental worry for the past nine or ten weeks and that as a result he had lost one and a half stones in weight.

As such, the police determined that it was most desirable that the scissor grinder be traced and on 7 January 1946, information was received to the effect that the scissor grinder was staying that the Darlington Public Institution and he was brought to the police station for interview.

The police said that in the first instance they made no mention of the murder in Scunthorpe as it as their intention to first of all to get some idea of his mentality with a view to ascertaining what reliance and value could be placed on his answers to their questions regarding the murder.

The police said that by talking to him respecting his conduct whilst in Scunthorpe they found that he was erratic and that it was difficult to keep him on the topic of conversation. However, the police added that they were certain that he did not intentionally deviate from the line of questioning although he often did so, bringing in topics of conversation relating to things that happened years ago.

The police added that it was plain to see that the scissor grinder was mentally unstable and that it was obvious that great pains would have to be taken over his interrogation to satisfy themselves whether or not he was connected with the murder.

The police said that they eventually told him that they wished to question him respecting his movements in the view of numerous complaints they had received respecting his abusive, threatening and menacing attitude and the fact that he had been calling from house to house for scissors and knives to grind in the Ravendale Street district at the time of the Scunthorpe murder.

The police then asked whether he had any objection to them taking his fingerprints which he did not.

The police said that they then thoroughly examined him on the following lines:

  1. The date of his arrival at Scunthorpe.
  2. Where he stayed.
  3. What he did.
  4. His habits.
  5. His associates.
  6. Livelihood.

The police said that as a result they determined several facts.

The scissor grinder said that he had gone to Scunthorpe after the York Races that took place on 5 and 6 September 1945. It was also determined that records at the lodging house at 2 Manley Street, Scunthorpe, revealed that he first went there on 17 September 1945 and that he said he was living there when Emily Charlesworth was murdered.

The scissor grinder said that for the first fortnight he had been engaged in scissor and knife sharpening and that he used to carry files about for the sharpening and had no grinding machine. The scissor grinder said that he went house to house and shop to shop asking for scissors and knives to grind and remembered visiting Highfield House Club on 21 September 1945. He also admitted that he did a considerable amount of begging at the houses and shops, and that, when feeling the effects of intoxicating liquors, he often became abusive and adopted a threatening attitude.

The scissor grinder also admitted that he was a habitual visitor at the Bluebell Hotel and Oswald Hotel and boasted that he could drink twenty pints of beer without getting drunk. The police noted that there was no doubt in their minds that the scissor grinder consumed large quantities of drink which was purchased for him by other customers as he was the type of person that could induce persons to buy him drink.

When the police asked the scissor grinder if he had ever consumed Guinness in the Oswald Hotel, he said, 'Yes' and quoted the price of a bottle as 1/1d. The police noted that Guinness stout, in bottles similar to that found at the scene of the murder were 1/-d in the saloon bar and 1/1d in the smoke room bar at the hotel.

When the scissor grinder was shown a photograph of Emily Charlesworth and asked if he knew who it was, he said, 'I've seen her somewhere. Is that the woman who was murdered?'. The police answered 'Yes' and then asked him whether he had ever called at her house in Ravendale Street and he said, 'If I did, I don't know. I know Ravendale Street'.

When he was asked whether he knew where the Toc H was, he said, 'Yes, I got a paper from there'. The scissor grinder was then told that Emily Charlesworth lived next door to the Toc H and asked whether he remembered going to her house, but he said, 'I didn't'. When the police asked, 'Didn't you go there about sharpening scissors?', the scissor grinder said, 'I don't know, I might have done'.

The police then asked the scissor grinder, 'What made you say 'is that the woman that was murdered' if you don't know her?' and the scissor grinder said, 'I've seen her photograph in the paper'.

When he was asked what he knew about the murder, the scissor grinder said, 'Only we talked about it in the lodging house. The chap got off that did it'.

The police said that by that time they were satisfied that questions could be put to the scissor grinder in such a manner as to receive answers which where most probably incorrect. For example, when they said 'I believe you were in the Oswald Hotel the first day or two you came to Scunthorpe', he replied, 'Oh, was I, that may be'.  And then later, when they said, 'You were in the Oswald Hotel the night of the murder weren't you?', the scissor grinder replied, 'Yes, I was'.

The police added that later, when they asked 'When did you first go in the Oswald Hotel' he had replied, 'Only a few weeks before Christmas', which the police determined was consistent with what the bar attendants at the hotel said, saying that their first knowledge of him was a few weeks before Christmas.

The police said that when they said to the scissor grinder, 'You called at the old lady's house for some scissors to grind', he replied, 'Did I. I must have done'.

The police noted his answers to the following questions:

  • Have you called at houses in Scunthorpe late at night?: 'Well yes'.
  • You have gone begging?: 'Yes'.
  • When did you go to these houses in Scunthorpe?: 'Never after dark, always in the day-time.
  • When you are drunk you are violent, aren't you?; 'Well, yes'.
  • You threaten women then?: 'I always was of that nature'.
  • You don't remember what you've done?: I can prove all I've done at any time. I know nothing about it, that's that'.
  • Do you know anything about the murder?: 'I don't remember, I'm a lunatic at large. Do you think I don't know what I do?'.
  • I don't believe you know what you're doing when you're drunk: I admit I'm a mad man when I've had some drink'.
  • What happens when you've had some drink?: 'I don't know. I know my brain wouldn't let me touch the old woman, or any woman'.
  • Can you remember?: 'No, I don't remember'.

The police then determined to test the scissor grinder by putting facts to him that they knew to be incorrect:

  • A soldier bought you a bottle of Guinness on the night of the murder in the Oswald Hotel: 'Did he? The police then said, 'Yes, don't you remember?: 'Yes'.
  • A similar Guinness bottle was found at the scene of the murder and its the one you had at the Oswald Hotel: 'Was it? That's funny'.
  • Don't you remember going to the house now?: 'I must have done'.
  • You were seen at the back door of the old lady's house talking to her: 'Yes, I may have been'.
  • You were threatening her because she had no scissors to grind: 'I do get like that'.
  • If you had done this murder, would you remember it?: 'Of course I should'.
  • But you say you don't remember what you do when you are in drink: 'No, I don't'.
  • Well, what if you committed this murder whilst you were in drink?: 'Well, perhaps I didn't remember'.
  • Isn't it possible you committed this murder whilst you were in drink and now you don't know anything about it?: 'If I did, I don't remember'.
  • I am satisfied you can remember if you want to: I cannot remember. I know my mentality wouldn't allow me to do a murder. I didn't know anything about it until three days later'.
  • You can remember that, why can't you remember what you did on the 22 September?: 'I can't remember, I know nothing about it, I might have been sharpening there'.

When the scissor sharpener was then examined respecting the allegation that he had said in his sleep, 'The old bugger wanted murdering', he said that the only explanation he had was that he was often threatening people. The police noted that an expression that he often used throughout the interview was, 'It's the subconscious mind not having control over the conscious mind'.

When the police questioned the scissor grinder about his mental condition deteriorating since about September 1945, he went on to make a rambling statement about being discharged from his situation in Darlington for being drunk and for being turned out of his lodging house at Darlington. In addition he stated that he had had a lot of mental worry in connection with his dismissal from Messrs Holst and Company at Scunthorpe from which it appeared he had been dismissed from in November 1945 for general misconduct  and which he had appealed to the Scunthorpe Appeals Board against the dismissal. He had been given notice to attend the Appeals Board on a certain date but did not attend and his appeal was thereby quashed.

The police added that many more questions were asked, but that at about 1 midday they formed the following conclusions:

  1. When asked a question in a straightforward manner, he would reply to the best of his ability likewise, and the answers received were consistent with him having no connection with the murder.
  2. When a question was put to him in a manner which invited a reply in the negative, such a reply would be received and vice versa.
  3. If he was told a certain thing had taken place of which there was no proof or evidence and, in some instances, which the police had concocted and knew to be incorrect, he agreed that it was true, but later when asked whether or not it had taken place, in a straightforward question, he would reply to the contrary.
  4. He believed everything they told him was true, irrespective of whether it was nor not.
  5. At no time did he actually admit to the police that he might have killed Emily Charlesworth. However, the police stated that if they had so desired, they could have obtained from him answers to their questions that were so damaging to him that on paper it would have appeared obvious that he was concerned in the matter.
  6. His clothing was examined and found to be in a filthy greasy condition but that nothing was found suggestive of blood stains.
  7. At no time did he disclose any information that added to their knowledge of the murder, and as already stated, unless led into making certain replies, he said nothing whatever to connect himself with the murder, or whereby suspicion could be attached to him.

The police added that enquiries at the lodging house at Scunthorpe and other likely places revealed no information other than that already recorded in the police investigation and that at no time had any report been received indicating that the scissor grinder had visited a house during the hours of darkness.

The police stated that after their thorough and lengthy interview, and after discussing all the points, they came to the conclusion that the scissor grinder was in no way connected with the murder and that further, he could throw no light on the matter whatsoever.

Some years later, around December 1951, a man suspected of another murder, that of Fanny Tinker at West Stowell, was put forward as a possible suspect in the press, but he committed suicide shortly after becoming the suspect in Fanny Tinker's murder. It was reported in the press that he was strongly suspected for several other murders, as well as that of Emily Charlesworth, so much so that Scotland Yard had closed the files on them. However, the police stated that they had no knowledge of the matter. When they looked into it they found that the man was convicted on 3 December 1947 at the Winchester Assizes for rape but that there was nothing to connect him with Emily Charlesworth's murder.


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


see National Archives - MEPO 3/2311