Unsolved Murders

Maria Reinharten

Age: 45

Sex: male

Date: 1 Feb 1963

Place: Camelford Road, North Kensington

Maria Reinharten died from burns nearly a month after receiving them.

Before she died in St Charles Hospital, she accused the coloured man that she had been living with of trying to murder her. However, he denied the allegations.

Maria Reinharten had been walking around their flat in Camelford Road, North Kensington in a pair of panties, t-shirt and scarf at the time she received her burns.

Whilst in hospital she claimed that the man had thrown the base of a lighted oil-fire at her and in a later statement claimed that he poured paraffin on her and set light to it.

A police sergeant said that he went with the man to Camelford Road and that when Maria Reinharten saw him at the door, she said:

That man did it. He tried to kill me. We fell out, he threw the fire at me.

However, the man replied:

We were having an argument about some money and she knocked the fire over.

The police sergeant said that Maria Reinharten had been very badly burnt and that her hands and face were bleeding. He said the oil stove was still alight and that there were pieces of charred paper on the floor.

He said that the man then told her about the argument he had had with Maria Reinharten over money, noting that Maria Reinharten was in her underwear and was slightly tipsy.

The man said:

She started walking up and down, and then knocked over the top of the stove. She bent down to put it back and the scarf around her neck caught fire. All her clothes were burning, so I went to the basin for some water and poured it over her. Her hair was burnt and she was black.

The pathologist that examined her body said that she had 60% burns. He added that whilst he found that she suffered from heart disease, that her cause of death was bronchial pneumonia due to extensive burns.

A police sergeant from Scotland Yard said that the stove had been an old type and that the top was not very secure and could easily fall off.

He added that he found no traces of paraffin on the floor, although he did find water.

The man that let the flat in Camelford Road to Maria Reinharten and the man said that they quarrelled constantly and that Maria Reinharten drank heavily.

When the Coroner summed up he said that there was no evidence to substantiate the allegations made by Maria Reinharten whilst she was in hospital and added that whilst her clothes had been burning that she might have thought that the man had been pouring paraffin over her, instead of water.

The jury spent 20 minutes considering their verdict before returning with an open verdict.

see www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk

see Kensington Post - Friday 01 February 1963