Unsolved Murders

Amy Davis

Age: 68

Sex: female

Date: 25 Oct 1945

Place: Ring of Bells, 51 Yardley Street, Coventry

Source: www.nationalarchives.gov.uk

Amy Davis was found dead upstairs in the Ring of Bells pub following a robbery.

She had been beaten about the head with a blunt instrument and strangled.

Cash and jewellery was missing and the hammer used to beat her to death was found nearby.

The pub had closed as usual at 10pm the night before and when a cleaner arrived the next morning, she found the building locked and so called for Amy Davis's nephew who came over and then forced an entry. They then went in and found Amy Davis dead in her bath.

She was found fully dressed, wearing a black dress, and the bath contained no water.

It was thought that Amy Davis had put up a brave fight and the pathologist described her as having been a strong, healthy and well-nourished woman for her age.

It was thought that she had been beaten to death with a blunt instrument. She was said to have had extensive head injuries and a blood-stained hammer was found nearby. It was noted that the hammer was not the property of Amy Davis and the police made an appeal for anyone in the district who had lost such a hammer or who knew that such a hammer was missing from a house in the district.

The hammer was described as claw headed, 12 3/8 inches long, with a homemade handle of deal which was thought to have probably come from part of a packing case. The handle had grey whiteish paint on one side and was bevelled at the end with a number of nail holes. The handle was 1 1/4 inches by 3/4 inches in dimension.

The police also found a handkerchief on the bar counter in the morning following the murder that had four laundry marks on it. Two of them were traced, but the police were still trying to trace the mark H.233 in mauve cotton and H.3.X in black and the police said that they were trying to trace where the handkerchief had been washed. They noted that the original owner of the handkerchief had been found and it was determined that he had lost it about six months earlier.

The pub had been ransacked. A police detective with Coventry CID said that the service bar was in disorder and that the cash register had been broken open but noted that the collecting boxs containing money had not been disturbed. He added that the kitchen was in disorder, with drawers and cupboards being open and that the upstairs bedroom was in a similar state and a bureau had been forced. However, he noted that two other bedrooms did not appear to have been disturbed.

He noted also that there were indistinct footprints on some stairs leading to an attic.

Amongst the missing items that were established to be amongst those missing were a gold wristlet watch and three rings.

  • The watch was described as a lady's 9ct wristlet watch about the size of a shilling, round in shape, fairly thick, Swiss lever movement, round dial, believed enamel, plain easy reading face, ordinary numerals, winder recently been tightened, about 20 years old but in very good condition, with 9ct gold expanding bracelet attached that was at least 1/4 inches wide.
  • A lady's gold dress ring, set circle of small diamonds with pearl in centre, 20 years old.
  • A Lady's gold dress ring, set with cluster of diamonds, shape of diamond with blue stone, probably a sapphire in the centre.
  • A Lady's gold dress ring, set with ten fairly large diamonds. The diamonds were graduated down from the centre stone in each row.

Clothing coupons were also found to have been missing.

It was noted that Amy Davis didn't keep a large sum of money on the premises. However, it was also said that there had been a local rumour that Amy Davis kept a large sum of money on the premises. Amy Davis's nephew said that Amy Davis had been in the habit of clearing the tills and taking money upstairs, which as then banked each Monday and said that there was always about £10 in small change kept on the premises.

During their investigation the police interviewed hundreds of people and examined bomb debris, air-raid shelters and premises over a wide area. It was noted that the Ring of Bells pub was in a heavily blitzed area of Coventry that was surrounded by demolished buildings that were covered by weeds and grass and the police were said to have cleared weeds and grass over a wide area in the search initially for the murder weapon and also for other clues.

Amy Davis was the pub landlord and ran the place alone after her husband’s death four years earlier.

A complete news blackout was imposed by Coventry city police immediately after the murder.

One theory put forward was that a man had entered the public house during the evening and gone upstairs and secreted himself in the bathroom with the intention of waiting there until the pub had shut and Amy Davis had gone to bed.

A barmaid that had worked at the Ring of Bells pub said that she left the pub at 10.30pm on 24 October 1945 after clearing up and said that it would have been possible for a person to get into the premises at night without being seen.

It was thought that after Amy Davis had locked up that she had gone upstairs with the days takings and gone straight into the bathroom where she was attacked and was either then pushed into the bath and strangled or fell in. It was then thought that after ransacking the premises, the murderer had then left through the front door. Her charwoman said that Amy Davis was always careful to secure all the doors before retiring but said that when she went in the following morning, the bolt on the front door had not been put on, leading to the conclusion that the murderer had left themselves out via the front door.

It was also noted that it had been a wild night on 24 October 1945 and that there were gale force winds and squalls of rain which meant that there would have been few people about at 11pm.

It was noted that on 17 October 1945, a typewriter was stolen from a shop in Coventry, and it was thought that the thief had used the same method as at the Ring of Bells pub, by concealing themselves on the premises until after they shut. The police made an appeal to trace the typewriter with the additional hope that they might trace the person that murdered Amy Davis. The typewriter was an Underwood portable typewriter No. 3/B/6952 and had been missing since 5.30am on 17 October 1945. It was noted for having the figure 0 running into the figure 9 and having a cloudy letter A.

At her inquest, her cause of death was given as being due to shock and haemorrhage following multiple head injuries coupled with asphyxiation due to strangulation. The pathologist noted that an astonishing feature of her injuries was that there was very little damage done to the brain tissue itself having regard to the very grave injuries to her scalp and skull.

A verdict of wilful murder against some person or persons at present unknown was returned at her inquest on Wednesday 12 December 1945.

The Ring of Bells pub was later demolished.

In 2013 a woman walked into Willenhall Police Station and told them that she had information about the case and the police reopened their investigation which included requesting files from the Metropolitan Police as well as files that had been on display at the Coventry Police Museum.

Amy Davis was the sister of a previous mayor of Coventry.

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

see Historic Coventry

see Coventry Telegraph

see National Archives - MEPO 3/2314

see Evening Despatch - Monday 29 October 1945

see Coventry Standard - Saturday 03 November 1945

see Coventry Evening Telegraph - Saturday 27 October 1945

see Coventry Evening Telegraph - Tuesday 30 October 1945

see Birmingham Daily Gazette - Thursday 13 December 1945

see Coventry Evening Telegraph - Friday 26 October 1945

see Coventry Evening Telegraph - Friday 01 February 1946

see Hull Daily Mail - Saturday 27 October 1945

see Hartlepool Northern Daily Mail - Saturday 27 October 1945

see Evening Despatch - Friday 26 October 1945

see Aberdeen Press and Journal - Saturday 27 October 1945

see Coventry Evening Telegraph - Saturday 03 November 1945

see Belfast News-Letter - Saturday 27 October 1945

see Western Daily Press - Saturday 27 October 1945