Unsolved Murders

Laura Pretoria Coleman

Age: 25

Sex: female

Date: 12 Oct 1927

Place: 17 Laurel Street, Church Warsop

Laura Pretoria Coleman died from an illegal operation.

Her cause of death was given as being due to blood poisoning following an illegal operation.

She had lived at 17 Laurel Street in Church Warsop.

Her husband said that on the morning of 24 June 1927 that Laura Coleman complained of feeling ill and that later in the afternoon she lay on the couch and asked him to fetch a neighbour. He said that the neighbour came but didn't stay long and that at about 10.30pm he sent for a doctor but that before the doctor arrived that Laura Coleman gave birth to a child.

Laura Coleman's husband added that about a month earlier, on a Friday evening, that Laura Coleman had asked him to fill the copper with water as she wanted a bath and that after he did that he went out. He said that when he returned two hours later he saw Laura Coleman come out of the bathroom partly dressed and that afterwards he went into the bathroom and found a piece of wood.

He noted that he could not remember the exact day but said that it was a Friday evening and that he thought it was about the end of May 1927.

He said that the wood was about 1½ inches long, pointed at one end, broad at the other and that he saw a spot of blood on it. He said that he didn't know at the time what the wood was for, but noted that he had since then heard what it was called. He said that Laura Coleman then asked him for the wood and that when he gave it to her that she immediately burned it.

When Laura Coleman's husband was questioned at the inquest by the police the following took place:

Police: Were you present in your wife's room on Saturday night last, October 8th, with myself and others?

Laura Coleman's husband: Yes.

Police: Did you hear your wife say to me, 'My husband is a bad man, a very bad man?'.

Laura Coleman's husband: Yes.

Police: 'And he wants me to get out of his sight?'.

Laura Coleman's husband: Yes.

Police: Did you hear her say she had taken some pills and that someone gave them to her?

Laura Coleman's husband: Yes.

Police: Did you know the person who gave them to her?

Laura Coleman's husband: I know now (he mentioned the name of a woman).

Police: When did you first hear or have any idea what the piece of wood mentioned was for?

Laura Coleman's husband: About a month or two ago. (He added that he found a herbalist's book in the house).

Police: Have you lived happily with your wife?

Laura Coleman's husband: Yes. We have had a few words and little bothers now and then.

Police: Have you any children?

Laura Coleman's husband: One.

Police: Was there anyone else in the house at the time your wife was in the bathroom?

Laura Coleman's husband: Not to my knowledge.

The inquest went on to hear from the doctor that was called to the house by the nurse to see Laura Coleman. He said that when he arrived he found that Laura Coleman had had a miscarriage and that she had a temperature of 99. The doctor said that he and his partner attended Laura Coleman until she was sent to Mansfield Hospital on 4 July 1927.

He said that Laura Coleman later left Mansfield Hospital at her own request on 22 September 1927 at which time she was still suffering from inflammation in the lower part of the body but that she died on 12 October 1927.

He said that he and his partner carried out a post mortem on 13 October 1927 and that they found abscesses in the lower part of the abdomen and evidence of a perforation and concluded that her death was due to blood poisoning following an illegal operation.

Laura Coleman's husband was later shown a piece of wood and a piece was then broken off which was about the same size as the piece that he had described found and he said that it was similar to the piece that he had earlier found in the bathroom.

The doctor then said that the perforations that he found could have been inflicted by Laura Coleman herself, but said that to do so the piece would have had to have been larger than the piece shown.

He added that a wound made by such a piece of wood would have been likely to set up a septic condition.

Another doctor that had seen Laura Coleman on 26 June 1927 said that the inflammatory condition had at that time been commencing and that by 4 July 1927 she was seriously ill and removed to the hospital. He said that he suspected that an illegal operation had been performed but had no definite proof and that he agreed with the other doctor regarding her cause of death.

He noted that three or four days before Laura Coleman died that the district nurse who had been visiting her made a statement to him and that he then informed the police.

After hearing the evidence at the inquest the Coroner said that he could call the nurses but didn't think that they would be able to carry the matter any further. He said, 'I suggest that the jury should return a verdict in accordance with the medical evidence. That will leave the matter open and if the police get any further evidence they can take it up again. All that the jury is concerned about is the cause of death. If we knew that criminal proceedings would be taken against anyone, we should adjourn the investigation, as provided by the new Act, until after these proceedings. If there had been sufficient evidence today to make anyone responsible you could have returned a verdict against the person, but I cannot see that there is, however much we may suspect someone or some people'.

The jury then returned an open verdict.

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

see www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk

see Mansfield Reporter - Friday 21 October 1927

see Nottingham Evening Post - Saturday 15 October 1927