Unsolved Murders

Alice Allen Wood

Age: 63

Sex: female

Date: 9 Aug 1955

Place: Engine House Lake, Earlswood

Alice Allen Wood died after going into a lake.

Marks were found on her neck that could not be explained and an open verdict was returned. It was also heard that she had previously claimed that she was being followed about and that people were trying to injure her.

She was seen struggling in Enginehouse Lake on 9 August 1955 and an angler who saw her dived in fully clothed and brought her to the bank but attempts made to revive her failed and she died.

Her inquest heard that she had died from asphyxia 'at the time of or shortly after her intentional entry into the water'. However, the Coroner said that he was recording an open verdict because of the unusual evidence.

The Coroner said that he was of the opinion from the evidence that Alice Wood had been mentally unwell and had intended going into the water with 'no other object' than suicide. He noted that she had been brought out of the lake most expeditiously and that every assistance was given by a police constable, ambulance men and others to revive her but that she had died. However, he said 'there is evidence of doubt because of certain marks found on her throat. They might have been caused by the deceased herself in a frenzy, or during the treatment she had been receiving on the bank'.

The pathologist that examined her body said that he found bruising on her throat which was deep and that the marks had been cause whilst she was alive.

When the Coroner asked the pathologist whether the bruises on her throat might have been caused by Alice Wood herself, he said that it was 'probable', but noted that in order to bruise ordinary healthy tissues, a considerable injury was required, but noted that if a person was deprived of oxygen that bruising occurred more easily.

The pathologist then noted, after the Coroner submitted that it was difficult to account for the bruising, that he had knowledge of bruising in a previous case involving artificial respiration given to a woman of the same age by leading surgeons, noting that it was quite easy for bruising to occur when someone had their airway diminished.

He added that he did not think that Alice Wood could have survived after having been brought out of the water, but said that it was possible that her heart could have 'flickered' enough after she had been brought out of the water to have caused her bruising.

A policeman at the inquest stated that whilst Alice Wood was being given artificial respiration that a nurse arrived and an injection was given and that Alice Wood was later administered oxygen.

When the Coroner asked the policeman whether it was possible that her throat might have been pressed whilst efforts were made to revive her, he replied, 'I would not say pressed. When the oxygen mask was applied it was necessary to support the head and neck by hand'.

The inquest also heard evidence regarding Alice Wood's 'odd' behaviour prior to her death. Witnesses described her as having been nervous and upset and said that Alice Wood had said that she had had a feeling that she was being followed about and that someone was trying to injure her and that because of that she would not stay in the house by herself.

It was noted that the day before she died that Alice Wood had sent a note to Wythall police station. However, the note was not read out at the Coroner’s inquest. It was said that Alice Wood had been acting so strangely that the police had called her doctor and asked him to see her, and it was heard that he had arranged to visit her, but that that was not due to take place until the day after she died.

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

see www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk

see Birmingham Daily Post - Thursday 18 August 1955