Unsolved Murders

Elizabeth L Shriefer

Age: 69

Sex: female

Date: 4 May 1906

Place: 171 Clapham Park Road, London

Elizabeth Shriefer was found dead at her newsagents shop at 171 Clapham Park Road, London on 4 May 1906.

Her cause of death was given as suffocation after a handkerchief had been put in her throat. The doctor said that in his opinion she could not have done that herself. The handkerchief had been wedged tightly at the back of her throat.

She also had wounds to her throat, two on the right and another on the left.

It was noted that the handkerchief appeared to be the only clue pointing to foul play, it being a circumstance that was not readily explained by a theory of suicide. however, it was also noted a well-filled bag of coppers that was lying on a shelf in the room in which the body was found had not been touched, even though it also contained as quantity of silver.

She was found in her shop on the Friday night, 4 May 1906 at about 6pm. It was noted that her shop had been in a particularly busy part of a much used thoroughfare and that if the theory of murder was admitted that it meant that the culprit must have carried out his terrible work in a particularly daring manner.

Elizabeth Shriefer had run her newsagents business for the previous 21 years and had lived there alone. It was reported that in the neighbourhood that she had been possessed of considerable means and that although there was no clear evidence on that point, she was known to have had relatives who were well to do.

She was last seen alive by neighbours at about midday on the Friday, and the fact that the first editions of the evening papers were found lying untouched on the shop counter showed that she had been dead for some hours when her body was discovered.

It was found that several customers had called at her shop at about 5.45pm, and being unable to obtain any answer to their repeated knocking on the counter, they called the man that kept the general shop next door and he went in through Elizabeth Shriefer 's back parlour and found her dead.

Police from Scotland Yard were called in who made a search of the premises and discovered a razor hear her body. It was reported that the razor was a very old one and that it was possible that it had been in the house since the death of her husband.

It was noted that Elizabeth Shriefer had had several cuts on her hands that pointed to her having put up a terrible struggle with her assailant or assailants.

It was reported that two men had been seen in her shop about an hour before she was found.

Two girls that had gone to the shop who said that they had heard noises from upstairs as though someone had been walking about in stockinged feet.

A 27-year-old sculleryman was charged with her murder after making a confession, but later withdrew his confession and was discharged.

The sculleryman, who was arrested in Iffley, said that he had been told that Elizabeth Shriefer had plenty of money and that he had entered her premises by the window to rob her. He said that whilst he was searching her premises for money he heard footsteps and that Elizabeth Shriefer then seized him by the collar of his coat, but said that he wrenched himself away from her and started cutting at her throat with a razor that he had found and that when she started screaming and that he then rammed a scarf down her throat.

He said that he then left by the window and had been tramping the country ever since. He said that he didn't know that he had killed her until he saw a report of the case in the newspaper on the Sunday.

He said that he had cut her throat in three or four places to make it look like she had inflicted the injuries herself.

When he was arrested, he had had a pocket book on him in which appeared the following entry in pencil: 'I, the undersigned, hereby confess that I am London's latest murderer, committed at 171 Park Road. Robbery was my intention. Three shillings I secured but expected to get more'.

He had also had blood stains on his clothes that he had said had come from Elizabeth Shriefer.

The sculleryman's confession was reported on 6 May 1906 but was revealed to have been a false confession on 21 May 1906 and he was discharged.

An open verdict was returned at her inquest.

171 Clapham Park Road has since been demolished and redeveloped, but it is thought that it was next to 173 Clapham Park Road, which is the Coach and Horses public house, which is still there today.

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

see www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk

see The Scotsman - Wednesday 16 May 1906

see Birmingham Daily Gazette - Thursday 10 May 1906

see Dundee Courier - Wednesday 16 May 1906

see Uttoxeter Advertiser and Ashbourne Times - Wednesday 09 May 1906

see Dublin Daily Express - Saturday 05 May 1906

see Leominster News and North West Herefordshire & Radnorshire Advertiser - Friday 18 May 1906