Unsolved Murders

Veronica Bondi

Age: 53

Sex: male

Date: 30 Aug 1963

Place: Fernleaf Street, Moss Side, Manchester

Veronica Bondi was found dead in an alleyway off Fernleaf Street, Moss Side, on 30 August 1962, with two roses beside her.

She was found by a coloured 12-year-old girl, the daughter of a local newsagent, whilst she was out doing a paper round.

Veronica Bondi had suffered head injuries. The alley she had been found in was also known as Tin Pan Alley.

The police said that the murder weapon had been found, a baton of timber, at the scene. The baton had been a piece of 1in by 1½in timber, 2ft 6in long. It was said to be a bit of timber a  joiner or packing case might use. The baton had been broken at both ends and had been bloodstained.

It was heard that her right hand glove had been pulled back as far as the knuckles, and noted that it was known that she had kept money in that glove.

The police said that they were satisfied that the murder had taken place where her body was found, adding that they thought that it had taken place after midnight.

She had lived in a lodging house in Cecil Street, Moss Side. Her husband, a Frenchman, had been a chef at Orly Airport in Paris, however, he had not seen her since 1941.

Her body was found less than a minute's walk from her home.

She had been wearing a brown mohair coat, brightly coloured dress and a multi-coloured cardigan. She also had brown hair that was turning grey.

A man that had lived in Darcy Street in Moss Side said that shortly after going to bed he heard a woman screaming and shouting at a man, who shouted back at her. He said:

There was a running of feet which appeared to come from the entry behind Fernleaf Street. I heard the woman give a long scream and then a long catlike moan. That was all I heard. Normally I would have gone out to see what the matter was, but people around here are so used to disturbances in the middle of the night, they take no notice of them.

The police also spoke to neighbours who said they had heard a disturbance in the alleyway during the night. It was noted that the street was mainly occupied by West Indian families who lived in small flats.

A Jamaican woman that lived in Darcy Street said:

I heard a woman screaming but took no notice. It was all over in a minute. I thought it was one of the many shouts and cries we always get round here.

It was initially thought that the red roses could have been a vital clue to her murder, but it was later found that she had a fondness for them. One rose was initially found by her body by the police and the second was found later. It was however, thought that she had had one pinned on the lapel of her coat whilst another had been fastened to the belt of her dress. However, the police added that they had reason to think that she might have had three roses with her.

A bus conductor that had lived next door to the lodging house Veronica Bondi had lived in said that Veronica Bondi had often admired his roses. He said:

Whenever she went out, she always plucked a flower from the bush in my front garden and put it in her lapel.

The police appealed for the driver of a grey Morris van or car to come forward, which later turned out to have been a Ford Anglia, but after the driver was traced he was found to be unable to help with the inquiry. The vehicle had been seen in Fernleaf Street, Moss Side between 2.30am and 2.45am.

The police also appeared for a man seen by a lorry driver running from Denmark Road into Oxford Road at about 3.50am on the Friday. He was described as:

  • Aged between 25 and 30.
  • 5ft 9in or 10in tall.
  • Fresh complexion.
  • Dark hair receding at the temples.
  • Wearing a dark shirt, blue turned-up denims, white shirt and no tie.

The police said they were also trying to trace a taxi-driver. The search for the taxi-driver followed a report that Veronica Bondi had been seen in a taxi in the Moss Side area only a few hours before she was found dead.

The police also appealed for anyone that might have seen Veronica Bondi alone or with someone else after 2am, Friday 30 August 1963. They said that they had already traced her movements through several Moss Side cafes up to 1.30am. They said they were also interested in her movements on the Thursday evening and night in general.

They also made enquiries at the docks, the airport and late night coffee bars. They said they were keeping a close watch on all ships leaving Liverpool in case the killer tried to leave the country by sea.

Veronica Bondi was an ex-music hall artist and was noted for having once played principal boy in pantomimes. Her stage name had been Dorothy Lynn and she had appeared with a sister, billed as the Dubarry sisters. Veronica Bondi had sung whilst her sister had played the piano.

The police said that they were getting more and more evidence that Veronica Bondi had been an 'absolute alcoholic'.

A 72-year-old West Indian man that lived in Cecil Street said that Veronica Bondi had been a housekeeper and that he last saw her on the Thursday evening when she went out saying she was looking for a man she claimed owed her some money. He said that he had first seen her on the Thursday afternoon on waste ground near his home and that she had told him that she had been waiting for a man that had owed her some money. He said that she later returned to the house, and then went out again saying that she was going to look for the same man.

He said that Veronica Bondi sometimes had heavy bouts of drinking and that she sometimes didn't come back to the house at night. He added:

She was passionately fond of flowers, particularly roses. She nearly always had a rose with her.

A shopkeeper of Upper Loyd Street in Moss Side said that shortly before her shop was due to close that Veronica Bondi walked in and bought a cheap bottle of sherry.

Veronica Bondi was later seen carrying a bottle and some red roses by a bus guard.

Other witnesses said that they saw Veronica Bondi talking with various people in a Denmark Road cafe until after 1am, where she asked one of them to pin a rose onto her coat.

The police said they interviewed 8,500 people after the murder, but that each of them had been eliminated.

A witness that had lived in St Bede's Street in Moss Side, said that Veronica Bondi had been talking with two Irishmen in the cafe and that they then started arguing.

When the consultant pathologist that carried out the post mortem gave evidence, he said that her cause of death had been injuries to her face, a fractured skull and jaw fractures.

Her inquest was held on 12 December 1963.

The inquest heard that she had gone to her death with wine and red roses.

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

see www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk

see Birmingham Daily Post - Monday 02 September 1963

see Liverpool Echo - Friday 06 September 1963

see Liverpool Echo - Thursday 05 September 1963

see Liverpool Echo - Friday 30 August 1963

see Manchester Evening News - Thursday 12 December 1963

see The Stage - Thursday 05 September 1963

see Liverpool Daily Post - Wednesday 04 September 1963

see Manchester Evening News - Friday 30 August 1963 (picture of murder scene)

see Daily Mirror - Saturday 31 August 1963

see Liverpool Echo - Monday 02 September 1963

see Liverpool Echo - Saturday 31 August 1963

see Birmingham Daily Post - Saturday 31 August 1963

see Birmingham Daily Post - Saturday 31 August 1963

see Aberdeen Press and Journal - Saturday 31 August 1963