Unsolved Murders

Cyril Ellis

Age: 24

Sex: male

Date: 13 Aug 1949

Place: Cannon Hill Park, Birmingham

Source: www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk

Cyril Ellis died after being attacked in Cannon Hill Park on 12 August 1949. He died the following day in hospital.

He had been in the park with his girlfriend at the time when he was attacked. They had been sitting together in a secluded part of the park on the Friday night in the moonlight at the time. His girlfriend received miner head injuries and left the hospital on the Saturday night.

The police said that the attack took place in the undeveloped part of the park near Pebble Mill Road, a spot known to be frequented by young men and women who wanted to be by themselves.

It was said that the attack came without warning and that after it the attacker had 'just dashed off'.

Cyril Ellis's girlfriend said that they had been on the ground when they were attacked but was not able to give particulars about the attacker that could be relied upon, but did say that she thought that the assailant had had something in his hand with which he had struck. She also said that the attacker 'had staring eyes'.

After the attack, Cyril Ellis's girlfriend spent the weekend with relatives in the city and on 15 August 1949 when she was interviewed by reporters she described her experience as 'terrible' and added, 'My one desire is to try  to forget the whole thing'.

The inquest heard that Cyril Ellis's girlfriend had told Cyril Ellis's father during a conversation that he had had with her that as they had gone through an opening into the park they had looked into a prefab, after which they had gone down a pathway and that they had only been in the park for a few minutes when they were assaulted. He said that Cyril Ellis's girlfriend told him that she had run back to the prefab, apparently thinking that Cyril Ellis was not badly hurt and that after a few minutes he had come in as well and sat down in a chair

The post-mortem stated that Cyril Ellis's wounds had been made by a heavy wooden fence support. A photograph of the wooden fence post was shown at cinemas along with an appeal for people that recognised it to come forwards. It was described as, 'a 5ft long three by two, Scottish pine baton found at the scene of the crime' and was accompanied by the notice 'Have you seen it before? The police are anxious to trace its origin'.

The police said that they took statements from courting couples that had been in the park at the time and said that they were building up a description of a man that they wished to interview.

The police said that they had two theories for the attack.

  1. That it was the work of a maniac.
  2. That there was a jealousy motive.

However, the police added 'Our inquiries lead us to think that it could have been the work of an insane person', although noted that the jealousy motive was still being considered.

The police also said that they had considered the theory that the attacker had been a Peeping Tom and appealed for courting couples to come forward if they thought that they had seen anyone spying on them.

Following the murder, the police kept watch on all local parks and police were put on duty in Cannon Hill Park and door-to-door checks were made in the Balsall Heath district.

Also, following the murder, the park attendants made a careful check to make sure that everyone was out of the park before closing the gates at about 9.30pm.

On 16 August 1949, a 22-year-old 'clippie' who was employed by the Corporation Transport Department was attacked near Cannon Hill Park, not far from where Cyril Ellis was murdered. She said that the man that attacked her had staring eyes. She was a native of Ireland and had been on her way to work at the Barford Street depot at the time. She said that as she was going along, she was molested by a man who struck her two or three times on the forehead with his fists. She said that the man caught hold of the shoulder strap of her uniform, but that she struggled and got away. She said that the man chased her for nearly half a mile before she approached the depot and had made off.

Later, on 10 September 1949 it was reported that Cyril Ellis's girlfriend had received a letter purporting to be signed by the murdered which threatened 'to do her in'. She said that the letter was one of several that she had received, all of which she had handed over to the police. She said, 'I think it is time these facts were revealed, because since the attack I have been persecuted and my name has been blackened and dragged in the dust. I want to clear my name'.

The police said that they were trying to trace the sender of the letters.

At his inquest a verdict of 'Murder by some person or persons unknown' was returned.

Cyril Ellis had been a law-student and had lived in Pershore Road in Birmingham.

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

see The Scotsman - Friday 09 September 1949

see Hartlepool Northern Daily Mail - Saturday 10 September 1949

see Daily Mirror - Friday 09 September 1949

see Coventry Evening Telegraph - Tuesday 16 August 1949

see Birmingham Daily Gazette - Thursday 18 August 1949

see Staffordshire Sentinel - Monday 15 August 1949

see Birmingham Daily Gazette - Saturday 01 July 1950