Unsolved Murders

William George Earl

Age: 54

Sex: male

Date: 5 Apr 1954

Place: Southport

William George Earl was found on the foreshore at Southport on Tuesday 5 April 1954.

He had gone missing from the Blue Funnel liner Deucalion whilst it was at sea, bound for Liverpool. He was employed by Alfred Holt and Company.

He was a sailor and had lived in Henderton Road in Birkenhead and had been the chief steward on the Deucalion.

His wife said that William Earl had telephoned her from Glasgow where his ship had been docked at the time on 20 February 1954. She said that he did not seem unduly worried but had told her that he had had a cold and was full of catarrh. She said that he told her that he was looking forward to arriving home on 22 February 1954, but that that was the last time she heard from him.

William Earl was reported missing from his ship on 22 February 1954.

A second officer on the Deucalion who had lived in Gladsmuir Road in Glasgow, said that on 22 February 1954 at 6.45am whilst the ship was on the high seas, William Earl's personal steward told him that he could not find William Earl. He said that a search was then made but without success and that when they went to William Earl's cabin, they found a letter on his desk. The letter, which was written on notepaper, read, 'We passed the Bar lightship at 4.25am. The letter was sealed and addressed to his wife and on the envelope it as written 'To be opened by my wife only and 'Don't forget to apply for wages and superannuation'.

The second officer said that when he had seen William Earl at 7pm the previous day that his condition was quite normal.

His wife later identified a merchant navy identity card that was found on his body as his.

The pathologist that carried out his post mortem said that there was a strong presumption that death was due to drowning, but noted that he could not give an exact cause of death because of the advanced state of decomposition of his body.

An open verdict was returned. When the Coroner summed up he said that he could not presume that William Earl had taken his own life or that his death was the result of an accident. The Coroner added that due to the state of decomposition of William Earl's body that the cause of death was unascertainable.

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

see www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk

see Liverpool Echo - Thursday 05 August 1954

see Lancashire Evening Post - Thursday 05 August 1954

see Liverpool Echo - Wednesday 07 April 1954

see Lancashire Evening Post - Wednesday 07 April 1954