Unsolved Murders

Violet Stella Arundel

Age: 64

Sex: female

Date: 28 Oct 1955

Place: Healey Lane, Batley, West Yorkshire

Violet Stella Arundel accused her husband of poisoning her on her death bed.

However, the Coroner said at her inquest that there was no doubt that she had died from natural causes, her cause of death later being given as colon cancer.

Violet Stella died at her home in Healey Lane, Batley on 26 October 1955.

Her funeral had been arranged for 29 October 1955 but it was postponed by the police after they heard that Violet Stella had accused her 77-year-old husband of poisoning her. Mourners who were unaware that Violet Stella's funeral had been stopped had arrived at her house on the Saturday morning with floral tributes for her and had had to then return home.

The police said that doubts had been expressed to them over the cause of Violet Stella's death on Friday 28 October 1955 at about 7.10pm when they had spoken to the doctor who had told them that he had issued Violet Stella's death certificate but that he then wanted to withdraw it. Arrangements were then made to stop the funeral and to have some of Violet Stella's organs sent away for analysis. However, at the time, it was heard that the pathologist that had examined Violet Stella's body said that he was quite satisfied that his findings at that stage were entirely compatible with the medical evidence and that there was no reason to suspect any suspicious circumstances so far as he was aware of.

The doctor said that he had issued Violet Stella's death certificate on 26 October 1955 but that after Violet Stella's sister had visited him and told him of her concerns that he had had no alternative other than to withdraw it.

It was heard that on 24 October 1955 Violet Stella's sister had been sat by Violet Stella's side as she lay ill in bed at her home when Violet Stella had said to her 'I accuse him of giving me some poison and also of poisoning his first wife'.

Violet Stella's sister said that when Violet Stella made the accusation she had been fully conscious and rational and appeared to be perfectly in her rational mind. She said that when she heard Violet Stella make the accusation that she told her 'not to be silly', or words to that effect, and said that Violet Stella then replied, 'What makes it funny is that he had some arsenic in the cupboard and he took it out and buried it. When he came back, he said, 'Well that has done with that', or something like that'.

Violet Stella's sister said that when she asked Violet Stella whether she was really sure about it, that Violet Stella told her that she knew what she was talking about and that she was perfectly sure.

When the Coroner asked Violet Stella's sister whether she mentioned what Violet Stella had told her with Violet Stella's husband, she said, 'No, sir. I was worried, but I thought the best thing to do was talk it over with my son. I went home and did this and he advised me to talk it over with my sister's doctor. I returned to Batley on October 28 and saw the doctor about 6.30pm and told him what my sister had said. He suggested I should go to the police.'.

When the Coroner asked Violet Stella's husband whether Violet Stella had expressed any fears of being poisoned to him, he said, 'No, sir'. The Coroner then asked him whether Violet Stella had ever asked him to remove any packet or tin from the house and again Violet Stella's husband replied, 'No, sir'.

Violet Stella's husband said that Violet Stella had undergone an operation on 11 May 1955 after which she had been taken to a convalescent home and that on her way there she had fallen from the ambulance and had developed an abscess. He noted that he had visited her in hospital 91 times. He said that Violet Stella had recently been suffering and experiencing considerable pain and had been vomiting at home and that she had been prescribed morphia tablets.

Violet Stella and her husband had been married for about two years and had both previously been married.

However, a senior scientific officer from the Home Office Forensic Science Laboratory in Harrogate said that when he examined Violet Stella's body that he found no evidence of poisoning.

A Home Office pathologist that carried out a post mortem on Violet Stella's body said that her death was due to the recurrence of cancer of the colon for which an earlier operation had been carried out. The pathologist added that hallucinations and delusions sometimes occurred in the later stages of the illness that Violet Stella had been suffering from.

After hearing the evidence, the Coroner said that he did not criticise Violet Stella's sister for her actions, stating that he was satisfied that she had been in an unenviable position and had done the right thing in reporting what her sister had told her to the doctor. The Coroner said, 'I do not think she should be criticised for the steps she took'. He went on to note that it was much better that her doubts and fears should have been raised, noting that if they had come up at a later stage they might have caused even more distress to Violet Stella's husband.

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

see www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk

see Lancashire Evening Post - Tuesday 15 November 1955

see Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer - Monday 31 October 1955

see Bradford Observer - Wednesday 16 November 1955

see Liverpool Echo - Monday 31 October 1955

see Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer - Wednesday 16 November 1955