Unsolved Murders

Bessie Burrows

Age: 62

Sex: female

Date: 6 May 1940

Place: Broadlands Pit, North Petherton

Source: www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk

Bessie Burrows was found face downward in Broadlands Pit covered by a foot of water.

Her body was found by a man that had lived in Butts Corner, North Petherton as he was walking across some fields to the allotments. He said that as he passed the pit he glanced into it and saw her body, fully clothed, lying face down in about a foot of water covering her.

When the police arrived, they found that Bessie Burrows still had her hat, gloves and coat on.

It was noted that when the policeman had arrived, Bessie Burrows had already been moved by other people that had thought that she might have still been alive. However, they had left her after seeing blood on her face and slight bruises.

It was noted that the point where her body was found was about 20 feet below the bank at which point there was a rough way down to the water which was described as being very steep and slippery. Further, it was noted that owing to the smell and some stagnant water, it was a place to avoid.

It was suggested that the scratches on Bessie Burrows's face might have been caused by bushes and said that there was no sign of a struggle.

Her brother who lived in Chepstow said that Bessie Burrows was of a cheerful and talkative disposition but very reticent in regard to her own affairs. He said that she had stayed with him in Newport in November 1940 and during that time had told him that she was perfectly comfortable in her lodgings and getting on all right. He added that to his knowledge, she had not suffered mentally and said that he didn't think that she had been worried over financial matters.

The niece of Bessie Burrows's landlady, a schoolgirl from North Petherton said that she saw Bessie Burrows on the Wednesday at about 1.30pm going along Fore Street and turn down Cann's Lane which was noted led off towards Broadlands Pit. She said that when Bessie Burrows saw her, Bessie Burrows hurried on faster.

Bessie Burrows's landlady said that Bessie Burrows was usually bright but said that she had become dull and moody during the previous fortnight. However, the landlady said that Bessie Burrows told her that there was nothing the matter with her and said that she thought that it was a passing mood.

The landlady said that on the Wednesday Bessie Burrows had lunch with them and then left to catch the 1.30pm bus to Bridgwater saying that she would not be long. The landlady said that when Bessie Burrows didn't return by the last bus, she was alarmed but thought that she must have stayed the night with friends.

She said that Bessie Burrows had never threatened to take her own life.

The pathologist that carried out her post-mortem said that he found her cause of death to have been asphyxia due to drowning. He said that there were no marks of violence.

The pathologist said that the pond was a gloomy, dangerous place that would repel a normal person, but said that it might attract anyone abnormal.

Her inquest found that there was insufficient evidence to show how she had come to be in the water and an open verdict of found drowned was returned.

She had lived in Elm House, North Street in North Petherton.


see Western Daily Press - Monday 06 May 1940

see Taunton Courier, and Western Advertiser - Saturday 11 May 1940