Unsolved Murders

Brenda Edwards

Age: 5 months

Sex: female

Date: 28 Jun 1947

Place: Buttery Road, Smethwick, Birmingham

Brenda Edwards disappeared at about the end of June 1947.

Her father was later arrested for her murder but was acquitted at Trowbridge Magistrates Court.

The child had been born in February 1947 and her bones were later found in a cardboard box in a wood about two miles from Trowbridge.

The doctor that examined her remains said that the condition of her bones were consistent with her death having occurred about six months previously, as reported in February 1948. However, he said that there were no injuries to her bones and that he was quite unable to say what her cause of death was.

After the prosecution presented its evidence, the defence made a formal submission that there was no case on which a charge of murder or manslaughter should go before a jury, stating, 'Would any jury be likely to convict upon the evidence that has been called here today?'

The magistrates then ruled that there was not enough evidence to justify committing Brenda Edwards's father for trial and he was acquitted.

The coroner later said, 'I think that as far as we are concerned, there can never be any evidence that could find out what was the real cause of death' and the jury returned the finding that the bones discovered were those of the child Brenda Edwards, but that there was insufficient evidence to show how she had met her death.

At the court hearing, Brenda Edwards's attorney from Indianapolis, United States of America, flew in across the Atlantic to defend Brenda Edwards's father, his services being given freely after his trip was financed by Brenda Edwards's father's friends and former neighbours.

The court heard that Brenda Edwards's father had met Brenda Edwards's mother about three years earlier and that they had had two children and lodged in Southwick, but that Brenda Edwards had disappeared at about the end of June 1947.

Brenda Edwards's father was later arrested in Birmingham and in a statement said, 'I don't know what to say or think. I guess I go a bit insane at times. What causes it I don't know. I have been handicapped because of it, because of my wounds. My wounds are in my chest and I wonder sometimes if it affects my head. I think they do sometimes, and I don't know when. It must have been like that when I did it to Brenda. I am sorry I did it. She was always crying, and I didn't know what to do for her. I just go a little wild and I hit her with my hand. Then I came to my senses. It seems she cried all next day and all the next night. That is how it happened. I was in bed when my wife came upstairs and said the baby was dead, I could not believe it. I went downstairs and was hugging and kissing her. I didn't know what to do. Finally, I realised she was dead. I have never touched a dead person before. I faded out and then I took her. I guess, to where you found her in the woods'.

Further evidence was given stating that Brenda Edwards had been a healthy child and had weighed 7lbs 6oz when born in February 1947.

Although Brenda Edwards's father was acquitted of murder and manslaughter, the magistrates retired for 45 minutes to consider the charge of wilfully assaulting Brenda Edwards in a manner likely to cause unnecessary suffering and injury to health, but dismissed that charge also, stating that having regard to the evidence, the Bench did not feel justified in sending the case for trial.

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

see www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk

see Western Daily Press - Tuesday 17 February 1948