Unsolved Murders

Matthew Pitts

Age: 51

Sex: male

Date: 16 Feb 1955

Place: Shipton Street, York

Matthew Pitts was found upside down in a tea chest in a garage off Shipton Street at about 10.30pm on 16 February 1955.

He was a travelling grocer and had lived at 30 Crichton Avenue in York.

He had used the garage off Shipton Street as a store and warehouse.

A man that had lived at 11 Bede Avenue in York said that he had gone to his garage at about 6.55pm on 16 February 1955 and had noticed Matthew Pitts's barrow outside his store and that his garage was not locked. The man said that when he returned at about 10.30pm he saw the barrow and door was in the same position and decided to investigate. He said that when he went in and shone his torch about that he saw Matthew Pitts's legs sticking up in the air but said that he could not get to him because of the number of cartons surrounding him and so he informed the police.

The police said that when they arrived they found that there was no lighting in the garage and that they had had to move several cartons before they could get to him and the chest that he was in.

The police said that the chest was about 16 inches square and 23 inches deep and that his body was tightly wedged in it. They said that there was no sign of a struggle having taken place, noting that if there had have been that other cartons in the garage would have expected to have been knocked over. They added also that there were no outward signs of violence but found that the outside of both of his little fingers was scrubbed and that there were similar marks on his legs.

The police said that they didn't think that there was any evidence of foul play.

When he was pulled out he was found to have had £138 in cash on him.

His cause of death was given as being asphyxia due to the maintenance of an inverted position and restricted access to air. The pathologist said that he thought that injuries to Matthew Pitts hands and shins might have been caused when he fell into the chest or whilst he was struggling to get out.

The Coroner noted that there was no evidence to suggest murder or that Matthew Pitts had intended to commit suicide.

He said that it was possible that Matthew Pitts, who was a small man, had climbed on top of some of the other cartons and had a dizzy spell or trance and had then slipped head first into the chest and that the more he had struggled the more his clothing had become tightly wedged round him.

A verdict of accidental death was returned.

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

see www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk

see Bradford Observer - Saturday 12 March 1955