Date: 27 Jan 1926
Florence Hargreaves was strangled. She was found dead in her shop on Attercliffe Road with a stocking tied round her neck.
She was found lying behind her counter.
She had six fractured ribs and two wounds to her head that had penetrated to the bone although not fractured the skull. She also had numerous bruises on her arms about the size of thumb impressions and there was blood on her clothing and hands. There was also blood about the shop including one place where there was blood found running down the wall. There was also blood found on a table that ran across the shop beneath a loose oil cloth. The blood appeared to have been formed from drops that had then been wiped with a wet cloth.
One leg of the table had a piece of coarse blood stained cloth tied around it and on the floor near it there was another cloth that looked like a floor cloth which was damp and bloodstained and had a number of grey hairs entangled in it.
It was noted at the Coroner's inquest that the bloodstains were fairly recent and not more than two or three days old and that Florence Hargreaves would have had to have lost a good deal of blood to account for the amount of stains. It was also noted that her two head wounds would have been sufficient to have accounted for the amount of blood found.
The distance between the two scalp wounds was five inches and it was noted that the distance between the two spikes of the iron grate in the shop was also five inches. The top of the grate which was leaning against a showcase was 4ft. 11in. from the floor. It was said that the injuries could not have all been caused after she had become unconscious and fallen although her head injuries could have been caused by a fall.
She also had some of her own hair in her fingers and a lens from her glasses was found amongst her clothing by her right breast.
Her death was stated as being primarily due to strangulation and the injuries to her head could not have been accidental. It was also stated that the injuries to her head had been caused before she had been strangled. A doctor said that her injuries could have been suicidal or homicidal but not accidental although it was noted that she could not have strangled herself after receiving her head injuries due to her hand being seriously maimed.
However, there was no evidence of any struggle in the shop, or any interference with her clothing and no evidence of any sexual crime.
Florence Hargreaves was seen by a woman who was collecting on 25 January 1926 between 10.00am and 10.30am sweeping in front of her shop. the woman said that she had known Florence Hargreaves for 20 years and was sure that it was the Monday morning that she had seen her.
She was later seen by another woman about 6.30pm on the same day. she said that she saw Florence Hargreaves look up and down the road and then go back into her shop which was in darkness.
The next day Florence Hargreaves's father reported to the police at 3pm that Florence Hargreaves had been found at her shop and the police went to investigate. The police constable that went to the shop said that there appeared to be suspicious circumstances and said 'I saw the stocking round the neck and the two ends protruding under the cardigan jacket she was wearing and I formed the opinion that probably the woman had committed suicide'.
An inspector who later went to the shop said 'I made a thorough search but failed to find any weapon which might have caused the wound at the back of her head'. He went on to say 'I found a small quantity of what appeared to be disinfectant in a bottle, which was uncorked. The liquid had run on the floor. On a ledge near the body was a small leather money-bag, neatly folded. It was empty. I did not see any food on the premises'.
A detective said 'There were bloodstains on the counter, on the floor, and on the drawers near to where the body was found lying fully extended. The left hand was reaching up to the head, which was covered with her clothing.'. He also said that he examined Florence Hargreaves's papers but found nothing of any monetary value other than a 5s. postal order issued on 14 January.
She was 5ft. 4in. tall.
An open verdict was returned.
A £50 reward was offered for information showing how Florence Hargreaves had met her death.
see Sheffield Independent - Friday 26 February 1926 (includes photo of Florence Hargreaves)
see Gloucester Citizen - Friday 29 January 1926
see Portsmouth Evening News - Monday 08 February 1926