Date: 21 Feb 1932
Place: 27 Lanark Villas, Maida Vale
Dora Alicia Lloyd was murdered at Lanark Villas, Maida Vale on 21 February 1932.
She was found strangled on the ground floor of an apartment house in Lanark Villas. She was found lying unconscious on the bed in the room.
When the pathologist came to examine the body he said that he came to the conclusion that death had occurred some ten or twelve hours before she was found dead.
Her body was found by the landlady of the Lanark Villas where Dora Lloyd lodged shortly after midday on 21 February 1932. The landlady and the landlord said that they heard no unusual sounds during the night although the man that occupied the room above Dora Lloyd had said that he had heard someone gurgling, as though they were being strangled. After discussing the strange gurgling sound in the morning they had then gone to have a look in Dora Lloyd's room and had found her there dead and then called the police at 1.55pm.
Dora Lloyd was said to have lived in the Maida Vale district for some time and had only recently, a month earlier, gone to live at Lanark Villas.
It was thought that she had gone home in a taxi with a man. The taxi was said then to have then been picked up by another woman and her companion at the corner of Air Street and Regent Street on the Sunday morning at 1am.
When the police arrived they found Dora Lloyd lying on her back on the bed with her face bruised and bloodstained, with blood and froth oozing from her mouth. The gas was alight in the room and there was also a gas ring in the fireplace and the blinds in every room were drawn.
When a doctor was first called he said that her body was rigid, and that death had apparently taken place some hours previously. As well as the facial injuries he said that she had bruising on her left shoulder and on both forearms and that she also had a bruise under her chin and lips. He said that her injuries were consistent with her having been subjected to severe punching with a fist and that they were not consistent with a weapon having been used. He said that there was also bruising and swelling of her neck and the fact that there had been froth oozing from her mouth indicated that pressure had been applied to her throat causing suffocation.
The police report stated that the room bore no signs of disorder other than the fact that her clothing was partly on the table and partly on the floor.
There was a small dressing table in the room of which the top drawer was open and inside which was Dora Lloyd's handbag which was open. On the floor near the dressing table there was a woman's handkerchief, handbag mirror, three pawn tickets in an envelope, a ten-shilling note and a sixpence which had the appearance of having been dropped out of the handbag which had the appearance of then having been thrown into the drawer,
On a couch nearby there was a pawnbroker’s contract note for a fur coat which was determined to be Dora Lloyd's property, and a copy of the Matrimonial Post and a small parcel containing a pot of face cream which had obviously been recently purchased and not undone.
It was said that from the appearance of her body it was evident that Dora Lloyd had undressed herself and laid on her back on the bed in the position that she was found in and then attacked with violence by blows being rained down on her face and pressure was then applied to her neck and that death had resulted before she had had an opportunity to defend herself.
The police report stated that the only clue which may have been left behind by the murderer were a pair of man's dark grey suede gloves that were found on a trunk in the room.
Fingerprints were taken from within the room, but the only article found to bear an impression was a glass on the mantlepiece and it was later found that the prints belonged to Dora Lloyd and to one of Dora Lloyd's female friends who was an elderly lady.
27 Lanark Villas was a nine-roomed house which included a basement and was occupied by the landlord, who was totally blind, his wife and their 23-year-old son. The rooms that were not occupied by them were all let out singly in a furnished state.
Dora Lloyd had taken the front room on the ground floor on the 28 January 1932 and had given her name as Mrs. Lloyd and had said that she was an actor's widow. She had also said that she had a 22-year-old son that had allowed her something each week. The landlady said that she had only known one person to visit Dora Lloyd during her time at Lanark Villas and that that was her elderly female friend.
The landlady said that Dora Lloyd used to go out either alone or with her elderly female friend at about 10pm. She said that she had her husband occupied a bedroom in the basement at the back and said that they would not hear anything that that went on in Dora Lloyd's room.
She said that she last saw Dora Lloyd alive on the day of Saturday 20 February 1932 when she came on to the landing for water. She said that she later let Dora Lloyd's elderly friend in at 5.30pm and said that she believed that she heard them both leave the house at about 9.30pm. She said that she didn't hear Dora Lloyd return or hear any unusual noises during the night.
The next day, Sunday 21 February 1932, at 1pm, the landlady said that she went to the room of a man that that occupied a room on the first floor over Dora Lloyd's room to give him some cake and said that when she did he asked her if she had heard anything unusual during the night and that when she replied that she had not he had told her that he had heard a peculiar gurgling noise as though someone was being strangled and that afterwards he had heard someone leaving the house, banging the front door behind them.
The landlady said that she then went to Dora Lloyd's room to see if she was all right with the man and found her door unlatched and said that when they went in they saw her dead body lying on the bed.
The lodger that had heard the gurgling sounds was a 28-year-old motor driver who had been lodging in the room above Dora Lloyd for about ten weeks. He was out of work and his wife was in service as a housekeeper. He said that he knew that the room below him had been let to a woman but said that he had had no conversation with her. He said that he had seen her getting water on the landing the day before, Saturday 20 February 1932 at about 12.30pm. He said that he later came back to his lodgings at about 11.50pm after having a meal and that he lay in bed reading until about 12.30am although that time was later altered in later statements to be about 1.30am, when he heard a taxi-cab pull up and said that he thought that another fellow lodger who occupied the back room on the same floor as him had come home. He said that he later heard a knock on the front street door which was answered by someone from below and that he then heard a man speaking in Dora Lloyd's room shortly after which he heard muffled screams and gurgling sounds coming from the room below. He said that he then heard a succession of thumps after about five minutes and then heard someone leave by the front door. He said that the door was banged very loudly and that he heard heavy footsteps along the street. He said that he didn't pay heed to what he had heard and therefore made no investigations. However, he said that when the landlady came to his room the next morning he told her what he had heard during the night and that when he accompanied her down to Dora Lloyd's room he saw her dead body on the bed and called the police.
The police said that from what the man told them there appeared to be no doubt that the sounds that he heard coming from the room below had taken place between 1.30am and 2am and that as such they had to assume that the murder had taken place at that time.
A music hall artist manager that occupied a room on the first floor at the back, next to the man's room that had heard the gurgling said that he had got home at about 1.30am on 21 February 1932, although the time was later ascertained to be nearer 2am and heard nothing unusual during the night. He said that he had come from his son-in-laws home in Bloomfield Road and had compared his watch with the church clock on his way home and was therefore able to check his time. He said that he had walked home and the police report stated therefore that the taxi heard had not been used by him.
The police report stated that the only other lodger in the house at the time of the murder had been a 29-year-old labourer who had occupied the back room on the ground floor which was next to Dora Lloyd's room and only separated by closed folding doors. He said that he had no knowledge of Dora Lloyd beyond knowing that a woman occupied the front room. He said that he was engaged in heavy work at the Electric Generating Station at St. Johns Wood and that on 20 February 1932 after having some drinks he had returned home at about 12 midnight and didn't wake up until 7am the following morning and had not been disturbed by any noise in the night. He said that owing to hard work and possibly to the drinks he had had that he had slept very soundly.
The landlady’s son was also questioned and said that he hadn't seen Dora Lloyd on the 20 February 1932 and was unable to throw any light on the matter. In his statement he said that he had been out with his sweetheart until 11.15pm and that he had then returned home and gone to bed and heard nothing untoward during the night.
When the police investigated Dora Lloyd's background after identifying her from her fingerprint, they said that they quickly identified her as being Dora Alicia Lloyd aged 44 and the widow of a music hall artist who had died in 1927. They said that she had a son who was then a probationer in the Bristol Police but determined that he had not seen her for some years and that he had been brought up by his uncle in Cardiff. The police report stated that she was identical to Dora Lloyd CRO No. 14713/19 and that she had been seventeen times convicted of soliciting prostitution. They said that her convictions commenced from August 1919, with the last being in July 1928, and that they were all at the Marlborough Street Police Court, which showed that she had for many years been living the life of a street prostitute.
The police report stated that she had for years been living at various addresses in furnished rooms and frequenting the vicinity of Piccadilly at night. The police report also noted that the only money found in her possession was a ten-shilling note and sixpence that was found in her room.
When the police made enquiries with Dora Lloyd's friends and associates they found several prostitutes in the Maida Vale district who knew her and said that she had been soliciting prostitution in Clifton Road, Maida Vale, near Lanark Villas and in the vicinity of Air Street in Piccadilly for some time. They said that they also found a 56-year-old man who had lived on Porchester Terrace in Bayswater who said that he had been associating with Dora Lloyd for some time and had been giving her small sums of money. The man was married and he had his wife had been employed as a butler and housekeeper respectively to an elderly lady at Porchester Terrace since 1909. He was noted as being of a poor physique.
The man said that he had met her in the summer of 1930 in Piccadilly and said that she had told him that her name was Mrs Lloyd. He said that he had accompanied her to her address at the time, 8 Delamere Terrace in Paddington where she had a room and that he visited her on subsequent occasions for the purpose of sexual intercourse at that address and at other addresses, and for three months had paid her rent of £1 a week. He said that he ceased his association with her at Christmas 1930 but that in consequence of her writing to him he again met her in March 1931 and paid her occasional visits as well as paying her small sums of money until June 1931 when he said that he came to the conclusion that it was morally wrong to associate with her and also said that the expense had to be considered.
The man said that they met at infrequent intervals and had drinks together and said that whilst he was seeing her he occasionally came out after he was supposed to have gone to bed and had remained with her until 2am, noting that his wife slept in the room of her employer and that he occupied a separate room there, and as such it was possible for him to occasionally leave the house and return unknown to his wife. He said that his wife was older and that he was not able to have sexual intercourse with her and noted that when he had first met Dora Lloyd she had invited him to bugger her but that he had not done so.
He said that he met her at infrequent intervals until 28 January 1932 when he said he called and saw her at 27 Lanark Villas, saying that he went to local public houses and that he had left her at 10pm and that from that date he had not seen or heard of her.
The police report stated that the man was closely interrogated but that they came to the conclusion that although he had been a foolish old man in associating with Dora Lloyd, it was not possible to associate him with committing such an assault on her as had caused her death. They said that it was also reasonable to suppose that the assailant's hands would have born some indication on the knuckles and possibly scratches as a result of the attack. They also said that it thought that the mans clothes would have been soiled with filth with which the bed was covered and noted that the 56-years old man's had none. They also stated that it didn't appear that the man was physically capable of causing the injuries found on Dora Lloyd.
The police said that the man told them that on the night of 20 February 1932 he had gone for a walk and returned home at 8pm and then remained indoors until 10.30pm to 11pm when he had gone to bed, which was corroborated by his wife who said that she had seen him in his bed when she had returned to her own room opposite. His wife also said that she would have heard him if he had got up and gone out.
The police said that the man was the only man that they traced who had had a continued relationship with Dora Lloyd and that they had no reason to believe that there had been others. However, they noted that her mode of living of course brought her into contact with many men who she had probably not seen again after promiscuous intercourse.
The police said that only two other men gave statements, the first being a man that had lived with Dora Lloyd for a few weeks at Randolph Road prior to 1931 and a man that had recently visited her to discuss the possibility of obtaining for her a pension from the Freemasons which her late husband had been a member of.
However, the man that had lived with her in 1931 said that the last time he had seen her was in April 1931. He was a 56-yerars-old and a retired engineer.
The man that had called on her regarding the widow’s pension who was a 61-year-old barrister at law said that he had met her on 7 February 1932 at Clifton Gardens at 11pm and had then accompanied her to 27 Lanark Villas where he said that she told him that she was desperately hard up. He said that he had told her that he would consider whether he could interest himself on her behalf with a view to obtaining for her a Freemasons Pension, but said that upon further consideration, he felt that he could not do so and called on her again on 13 February 1932 and that that was the last time he saw her.
Dora Lloyd's elderly friend who was 46 years old said that she frequently visited Dora Lloyd and said that she had called on her on the evening of 20 February 1932 at Lanark Villas at about 6pm and that she remained with her until about 10.30pm during which time port was purchased and consumed. She said that they left at about 10.30pm which was an hour after the landlady said they left but the police report said that the elderly woman’s time was probably correct. The elderly woman said that she then left Dora Lloyd at the corner of Clifton Road and that she didn't see her again. She said that when she called again the next day the police were in possession of Dora Lloyd's room.
Dora Lloyd was next seen by another woman that had seen the elderly woman leave her. The woman said that she referred to the elderly woman as woman that used to work for her and said that Dora Lloyd told her that she was going up West and that she saw her then board a No. 6 bus.
Another prostitute was also questioned and said that she had known Dora Lloyd for the past 20 years and said that she had been in the Noah's Ark pub in Oxford Street at about 10.15pm on 20 February 1932 when Dora Lloyd had come in. The police report noted that she was like most of the people interviewed, a low type prostitute and sodden with drink and pick -me-ups and that their statements were none too reliable. It was noted that another prostitute had given the time as 10.45pm that Dora Lloyd was said to have walked into the Noah's Ark pub.
The prostitute said that they had port together before closing time and then bought a small bottle that they consumed outside after the pub closed at 11pm and then went by bus to Piccadilly and Haymarket. She said that they then went into Heppells Chemist Shop where they had pick-me-ups and then went on to Oxford Circus where Dora Lloyd bought a copy of the Matrimonial Post and told her that she was going to write to all the old bachelors as she couldn't get any more money from the old man that she had been seeing and added that she couldn't make no money on the game. The prostitute said that they then returned to Heppells and had more pick-me-ups and said that Dora Lloyd bought a pot of face cream. The prostitute said that whilst in Heppells, Dora Lloyd became unwell and they rested a while and that they then went on to the Continental Cafe in Shaftsbury Avenue and had coffee and then later walked to Swan and Edgars corner at Piccadilly where they parted with Dora Lloyd, going off towards Air Street at about 1am.
The police noted that in corroboration of her story the copy of the Matrimonial Times was found on the couch in Dora Lloyd's room and the pot of cream was also found there still wrapped up.
The police said that they also interviewed an assistant at Heppells who said that he remembered two women entering the shop at about 11.30pm on 20 February 1932 noting that one of them was known to him as Mad Maggie which was the name that the prostitute that they had interviewed was known by by her associates. He also described the other woman that had been with her as very stout and it was said that it was undoubtedly Dora Lloyd. He also identified the pot of cream found in Dora Lloyd's room as the pot that he had sold her. He said that she had also become faint in the shop and had had to sit down and said that whilst she did so he saw her with a copy of the Matrimonial Post. He said that the woman left the shop at about 12.20am on 21 February 1932.
The police report stated that there could be little doubt that Dora Lloyd was in Piccadilly at that hour and noted that four other prostitutes who had said that they had seen her in Clifton Road at times between 11pm and 12.30am must have been mistaken.
The police said that after the prostitute had left Dora Lloyd, Dora Lloyd had gone into Air Street which was said to have been her usual nightly haunt where she was seen by five other prostitutes.
The first prostitute said that she was standing at the bottom of Air Street near the Piccadilly Hotel at about 1am when a man spoke to her, but she said that she didn't reply. She said that the man then spoke to the second prostitute who he also left. She said that she then walked into Regent Street and stood outside the Piccadilly Hotel and that as she did so she saw the man that had spoken to her and the second prostitute come round the corner from Air Street with a short stout woman who she said she later learnt was Dora Lloyd. She said that the man then hailed a taxi and then the man and the short stout woman both got in and went off towards Oxford Circus. She described the man as being aged 30-35, 5ft 11in, with a slim build, a thin face, clean shaven, wearing glasses, a dark overcoat and a dark trilby hat.
The second prostitute said that she had been walking in Piccadilly and Air Street at about 1am on Sunday 21 February 1932 when a man spoke to her and offered her 15/- which she said she refused and told the man to go home. She said that she then saw him speaking to other women but did not see him with Dora Lloyd or get in to a taxi. She described the man in the same way as the first prostitute but said that he had been wearing horn rimmed thick glasses.
The third prostitute said that she knew Dora Lloyd as a frequenter of Air Street and remembered seeing her in the vicinity of Piccadilly at about 12.30am on 21 February 1932 in the company of Mad Maggie. She said that she later saw Dora Lloyd alone in Air Street and also saw the man that the other prostitutes had described and said that she saw him leave the second prostitute and then come over and offer her 15/- but she said that she couldn't accept that and told him that a pound was her price. She said that he told her that he was out of work and that he intended spending his last bit of money. She said that she then left the man but noted that when she looked back she saw him speaking to Dora Lloyd but said that she didn't see them go away together. The police report said that the description of the man that she gave tallied with that given by the other prostitutes.
The last two prostitutes said that they had been in Air Street between 1am and 1.30am on 21 February 1932 and the fith prostitute said that she saw Dora Lloyd talking to a man who she got in to a taxi with, however, they said that they only saw the back of the man.
The fifth prostitute also said that she had seen a man and a woman get into a taxi in the early hours of 26 February 1932 and said that the man was identical to the one that she had seen on the 21 February 1932 but wearing different clothes. It was also noted that the woman that she had seen the man getting into the cab with on 26 February was traced. The traced woman said that she recognised a photo shown her of Dora Lloyd and said that she had seen her in the vicinity of the Eagle pub and in Clifton Road. She said that on 26 February she was accosted by a man in Piccadilly at about 2am and said that she asked him to giver her a ride to Maida Vale. He said that he suggested that they should go and try and obtain some drink and a cab was called and said that as they were getting into the cab several women ran towards the cab and one of them spoke to the driver. The woman said that she had been drunk at the time and that en-route to Romanos in the Strand the man stopped the cab and gave the driver 2/- to take her back to Piccadilly. The woman said that when the man left the cab she asked the driver what the women had said and said that the driver told her that they had told him that the man knew something about the Maida Vale murder. She said that the driver then followed the man for a way until they lost sight of him in Wardour Street.
When the driver was found he said that when the woman had got into his cab with the man some women had come up to him and said, 'I think he is the murderer'. He said that he then drove off and then later the man stopped the cab in the Strand, got out, and gave him 2/- to take the woman back to Piccadilly. The driver noted that the woman was drunk.
The taxi driver said that after losing site of the man near Leicester Square, he met him again in Regent Street and said that he stopped and asked him what all the bother and excitement was about and said that he told him that it was thought that he was the murderer. The driver said that the man replied that it wouldn't be the first time that he had been in a police station and that the woman in the cab had taken him for a mug. The police report stated that it was more likely that it was the woman's drunken state that had caused him to leave the taxi and possibly because she had tried to rob him noting that it was the practice of the girls to take a wallet off of a man when they could.
The police report stated that the woman that had told the taxi driver that the man that had got into his taxi was the murderer was the third prostitute who later told the police that she thought that he was the same man that she had seen get in with Dora Lloyd on 21 February. However, the fourth prostitute who had also seen Dora Lloyd get into the taxi with the man on 21 February said that she was unable to say whether the man she had later seen on 26 February was the same man.
The police report stated that the description of the second man was not the same as the first and noted that there was considerable doubt that they were identical.
The police said that they made a special enquiry at all ranks, garages, shelters and other likely places for the cab man that had picked up Dora Lloyd on 21 February as well as making an appeal in the press, but their efforts proved abortive. The police said that they also made an appeal through the cabman’s guild in their weekly journal, but he was still not found.
The police report noted that from the forgoing there was little doubt that the man who murdered Dora Lloyd was the man that had got into the taxi with her at about 1am on Sunday 21 February 1932 and that that man had also spoken to several of the other prostitutes that gave statements. It also stated that the arrival at Lanark Villas and the gurgling sounds heard by the lodger above Dora Lloyd's room compared to Dora Lloyd having left Piccadilly at about 1am in the taxi.
The police also noted that all effort was made to trace any person that had seen Dora Lloyd alight from the cab near Lanark Villas or anyone who saw the man leave Lanark Villas but no one was found that could assist with the investigation.
As such, the murder of Dora Lloyd remained unsolved.
see National Archives - MEPO 3/1672
see Cornishman - Thursday 25 February 1932
see Nottingham Evening Post - Monday 22 February 1932
see Portsmouth Evening News - Thursday 25 February 1932