Unsolved Murders

Catherine Mary Ogden

Age: 38

Sex: female

Date: 12 Jun 1953

Place: Bowling Park, Bradford, West Yorkshire

Catherine Mary Ogden was found dead in bushes in Bowling Park in Bradford on Friday 12 June 1953.

She had died from asphyxia.

Her unclothed body was found at about 6.55pm by a policeman following a telephone call hidden by a dense growth of bushes and was examined there by a pathologist from the North Eastern Forensic Science Laboratory at 8.30pm on 12 June 1953. When he saw her body, he said that he thought that she had died within three to six hours of that time.

The area that she was found in was also known as 'Lovers' Walk'. Her body was found within a few yards of a tennis court on which Bolling High School girls had been playing tennis. The tennis court attendant said that he had been on duty until 5pm after which he went for his tea, and then returned to the courts pavilion at about 5.35pm, but didn't hear any shouts or screams.

The police said that they thought that she had been killed in the afternoon and then dragged ten yards into the bushes. The police said that they had no reason to suspect that robbery had been a motive but said that no handbag or purse was found near her body.

Although the case was treated as a murder enquiry, the police said that they were not certain that she was murdered, and her inquest returned an open verdict.

Her inquest, which concluded on Thursday 13 August 1953 stated that her cause of death was asphyxia following pressure on the left side of her neck. The Coroner said, 'This could be a case of murder, manslaughter or accidental death. Until some further evidence is available, I cannot see how any jury could determine which it was'.

Her body was found shortly after a man called the police from a telephone box in Odsal to tell them where it was. However, the man gave a name, Alec, and address which was later found to be false and the man was never traced. The call was made from the Odsal telephone box between 5.30pm and 5.45pm on the Friday. One man came forward to say that he had given three pennies in exchange for a 3d piece to a man who asked for change outside the call box around that time, but the police were not able to take that further.

It was noted that the telephone box was on the Low Moor exchange and that a dialling system had not as yet been installed and pennies were needed to speak to the operator before a call could be made.

The police said that they were also looking to trace a man that was seen with Catherine Ogden at about 3pm on the Friday. The man was described as being:

  • Aged between 30 and 35.
  • Slimly built.
  • Brown hair.
  • Wearing a fawn raincoat and no hat.

The police said, 'This man can be identified by several people and an explanation of his movements from 3pm on Friday onwards will be of material assistance. The fact that this man has not come forward gives rise to suspicions which may prove to be unfounded if an explanation is given'. The police added, 'Members of the public are asked to inform us of any man who has been missing from his lodgings or employment since Friday'.

Shortly after Catherine Ogden's body was found the police said that they were seeking a fair-headed man aged about 28 who had been seen near the place about an hour before her body was found.

The police said that they had traced Catherine Ogden's movements during the day for Friday 12 June 1953 and said that they felt certain that the murderer was a local man or someone who had lived in the city for a considerable time.

She had earlier been drinking in a public house in the centre of Bradford and was later taken by taxi with the man to the vicinity of the park shortly before she was found dead. The man was seen by a park attendant running across the miniature golf course between 5.30pm and 6pm.

The police said, 'Inside the dense growth of bushes was a plot of grass and there was clear evidence that it was habitually used by courting couples. There is reason to think that the man who was with her in the afternoon has refrained from coming forward, due to some private reasons. The probability is that we shall find him in due course'.

A man was detained in Fulwood, Preston on Thursday 18 June 1953 in connection with her death, but released after he was questioned by CID officers from Bradford. He was spotted by police motor patrol officers with the Lancashire County police as he walked along the main Preston to Lancaster road at Fulwood and was picked up as he matched the description of the man wanted in connection with Catherine Ogden's death.

Catherine Ogden was married to a general labourer and the mother of five children and was also known as Kitty Bannon. She had separated from her husband shortly after the end of the second world war.

She was an unemployed textile worker.

Her father said that she was in good health when he last saw her five days before her death.

Her mother said, 'She never went out dancing, but she liked a drink and used to meet her friends in a public house in Bradford'.

She had previously lived in lodgings in Bowling Back Lane in Bradford until ten days before her death at which time she had moved to lodgings in Hubert Street off Leeds Road in Bradford with her 17-month-old daughter after saying that she was afraid of someone in the Bowling Back Lane area.

Her funeral took place on Thursday 18 June 1953 with the cortege leaving her father's house in Park Street at 1.40pm and her burial taking place in West Bowling Cemetery at 2pm.

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

see www.truecrimelibrary.com

see Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer - Wednesday 17 June 1953

see Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer - Tuesday 16 June 19532

see Nottingham Journal - Tuesday 16 June 1953

see Yorkshire Evening Post - Thursday 13 August 1953

see Sunderland Daily Echo and Shipping Gazette - Tuesday 16 June 1953

see Yorkshire Evening Post - Saturday 13 June 1953

see Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer - Monday 15 June 1953