Date: 10 Sep 1961
Jean Jacobs was found dead on the bank of the River Blyth near Bedlington Station on Sunday 10 September 1961.
She had been living with her parents at the time in Tomlea Avenue, Bedlington Station but had been hoping to move into a house of her own in a few weeks.
She was last seen at about 10pm on the Saturday, 9 September 1961 by a relative. It was thought that she had gone down to the river to watch the rats.
Her body was found by a miner that had lived in Melrose Avenue, Bedlington Station as he was walking his dog. Her body was found lying on the west bank among mud and rocks near Bedlington Furnace Bridge. He said that after finding her body he ran 200 yards up to the Bank Top Hotel where the manager then called the police.
When her body was found she was wearing a spotted dress, a light blue coat and light blue slip-on shoes.
It was noted that she had a severe wound on the left side of her head.
The police said, 'We believe she was drowned. Crime is not suspected'. However, an open verdict was returned at her inquest on Friday 24 November 1961.
Jean Jacobs's 23-year-old husband was a plasterer. When Jean Jacobs left home her husband was thought to have been out playing bingo at a club.
Jean Jacobs had been married for three years and had a 9-month-old daughter.
It was said that they had saved £200 with the intention of buying a house of their own and had been hoping to move out in about six weeks. A relative said, 'It would have been the first home of their own since they were married'. It was said that they had both been working away from home day and night to raise the deposit for the house and that Jean Jacobs rarely went out on her own. The relative said, 'She had no real interests beside her husband and baby'.
Jean Jacobs was said to have been bitten by a water rat when she was a child and to have since developed a strong fascination for the creatures.
A 17-year-old shop assistant who had lived in Third Street, Netherton Colliery, said that Jean Jacobs had invited her to go down to the riverside with her to watch the rats, stating that Jean Jacobs was fond of watching the rats from the river bank, but that she had declined the invitation. She said, 'I knew she used to go down to the river to watch the rats'. She said that after leaving Jean Jacobs by herself Jean Jacobs came back and asked if she could borrow a torch 'to see the rats better'. However, the shop assistant said that she persuaded a neighbour not to lend Jean Jacobs a torch. She said, 'I thought it would stop Jean from going back as it was after midnight. But when she was determined to go, I agreed to wait up for her'.
Jean Jacobs's brother said that Jean Jacobs had loved to play by the river as a child. However, he said, 'Then one day she was bitten by a rat and was scared to go back. But recently her fear of the water rats and the River Blyth turned into a strong fascination. She loved to stand and watch the rats'. However, it was said that the river then became an obsession with her and she had to visit her doctor for nervous trouble and that an appointment was made for her to see a specialist, but she died before she could go.
After hearing the evidence the Coroner returned an open verdict. He said, 'Clearly Mrs Jacobs had an unusual and perhaps incomprehensible outlook, wanting to watch these rats in the river. This was something she had done many times'.
see Newcastle Journal - Monday 11 September 1961
see Newcastle Journal - Friday 24 November 1961
see Newcastle Evening Chronicle - Wednesday 13 September 1961