Unsolved Murders

Katherine Peck

Age: 45

Sex: female

Date: 12 Mar 1929

Place: Flint Street, Camberwell

Katherine Peck was found in the street near where she lived with her throat cut and died five minutes after reaching the hospital.

She had a large cut across her neck, 5in. long and sloping slightly upwards from the left to the right, and upwards from the front of the neck towards the back. She also had a bruise around each eye with the bruise over the left eye being deeper. There were also bruises on the right side of her scalp and the left side of her lower jaw. There were no other marks of violence on her body or limbs.

The cause of death was given as shock and haemorrhage from a cut throat producing heart collapse.

A man was tried at the Old Bailey for her murder but acquitted on 10 June 1929.

She also known as Singing Rose and was a prostitute.

She was the wife of a hawker and had two sons, one aged 19.

Her husband said that Katherine Peck had gone out to the pictures and that he had stayed home all evening and knew nothing about her death. He said that for the last nine months or so Katherine Peck was often not home in the evenings saying that she would often go out at about 5.30pm saying she was going to the pictures of something and often got home about 11pm or 11.30pm. He said if she was later than that she wasn't let in. He said that she was not a sober woman and like to drink too much.

He said that on 11 March 1929 he had got home for dinner at 12 o'clock. He said that Katherine Peck was there and he gave her 2/s. He said that he then went out at 1 o'clock and got home again at 4.45pm and that his wife was at home them also, however, he said that she then went out to the pictures with her boy at 6.30pm and he didn't see her alive again.

He said that about a month or five weeks earlier he had seen Katherine Peck with two black eyes but said that she wouldn't say anything about it.

The man who was tried for her murder was a ship's fireman and lived in a lodging house on the Hackney Road. He said that he first met Katherine Peck in September or October 1928 when he was coming out of the Olympia Picture Palace in Shoreditch saying that she had stopped him and asked him for the best way to get to Stepney. He said that he told her and then went off. He said that he saw her again about a month later on Tower Bridge and he spoke to her and then left her but saw her again at about 10pm with another woman at the corner of Mansell Street and Aldgate and that they spoke and then went along with her to the corner of Tooley Street and Tower Bridge where he said he left her. He said that from then on he used to see her almost daily up until the Sunday before her death.

He said that on that Sunday he saw her at about 2.35pm at the corner of Mansell Street where he said she was talking with another woman and a man with a walking stick who he said he thought was the other woman's father.

He said that he then saw her again the following Monday night at about 11.20pm, the day before she was murdered at Gardners Corner at the coffee stall there. He said that she called him over and he went to talk to her. He said that she was with another man at the time, a man that lived at Pennyfields where he had a shop with automatic machines. He said he asked her 'Why don't you go home' and that he then tried to get her onto a number 40 bus but that she couldn't get on it and said that she wanted to take a number 42 bus at the Minories. He said that he then walked with her to the Ship and Billet at Minories where he said that she told him that she wanted to walk home.

He said that they then walked over Tower Bridge and that just as they got to the foot at Tooley Street Katherine Peck stopped and he told her that he wasn't going any further. He said that she asked him where he was going to go and that he told her that he was going to go back to Aldgate to see a friend and said that she then told him that she was going to go as well. He said that she made an attempt to go and after about 15 yards she was shouting 'Come on, come on' and that a policeman then came up to them and he said to him 'It's alright Gov'nor' and that Katherine Peck then went up to the policeman and laughed at him. He said that they then went to a coffee stall in Tower Bridge Road on the right hand side near Tooley Street where they each had a cup of tea. He said that by then it was about 11.40pm.

He said that they then went up Tower Bridge Road together and got as far as the corner of Grange Road when he told her that he didn't want to go any further and he left her. He said that that was at a bout 11.50pm and that she then went up the Tower Bridge Road towards Old Kent Road alone. He said that he turned and walked over the Tower Bridge and went round by the Mint, through Great Alie Street, turned up Leman Street, went to Gardners Corner and met one of his friends, by which time it was about 12.20am. He said that they had a cup of tea and then his friend told him that he could not stop any longer and jumped on a bus going for Poplar.

He said that he stayed there until about 1.30am, during which, between 1am and 1.30am he met another man who worked at Morris's fish shop in Aldgate at the coffee stall. He said that the man asked him how he was doing and that he had told him that he was doing no good and was going to go down to Tilbury to look for a job. He said that the man gave him a shilling and left.

He said that from there he went down to Mansell Street and joined a crowd of men who were standing round a watchman’s fire where the road was up where he said he stayed until about 3.30pm.

He said then that at about 4am he went into Medcalf's coffee shop in Aldgate and joined five more fellows and that they all then went down to Tilbury Dock, leaving Fenchurch Street at about 6.50am. He said that when he got to Tilbury he went on board the Steam Ship Osterley, an Orient Liner with another man and said he saw the second engineer. He said that the second engineer said to him 'I am taking my old hands back if they come' and that he replied 'You told me last Thursday to come and see you on Tuesday. I have come all the way from London and you are making a fool of people coming all this way'. He said that he then returned to London on the 11.45am train from Tilbury on which he was joined by a fellow. He said that they got as far as Bromley when the man asked him how far he had booked his ticket and he told him Fenchurch Street and the man said that he had booked for Stepney and so they swapped tickets and he got off at Stepney and went to the Sailor's Home at the corner of Salmons Lane where he had a sit down.

When questioned in court he said that on the Monday night Katherine Peck had been drunk and he had a job to get rid of her. He said that on the night he had been wearing a check cap, blue scarf, blue shirt, mixture tweed trousers, slate coloured overcoat and a brown coat and waistcoat.

He said that he first heard about the murder of Katherine Peck on the Tuesday, 12 March in the evening when he was in Aldgate with a woman. He said that she said 'Do you know that Rose you generally get with, I've heard she's been murdered but I'm not sure whether it is her or not'. He said that he replied saying 'I don't think so as I left her about ten minutes to twelve at the corner of Grange Road last night. you will soon find out, her time's about seven o'clock she gets over here'.

He said that the following night, Wednesday, 13 March he was standing at the corner of Mansell Street at about 10pm when he saw a man that he knew and that the man said to him 'I have heard say that that woman who I have seen you with has been killed'. He said that he replied 'That's nothing to do with me'. He said that he first knew that she had been murdered when he read about it in the newspaper when the inquest opened.

He said that on the nights of Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, 12th, 13th and 14th March he had stayed at a lodging house on Hackney Road where he was known as Murphy and Taylor.

He said that he saw his photograph in the press between 5 and 12 April with the news that he was wanted for interview and said that he had talked to some friends and that they had advised him not to go. However, he said that on the day before he gave himself up, 26 April 1929 he spoke to another friend who told him that he was making it worse for himself and suggested that he gave up and so he went to Bethnal Green police station.

The body of Katherine Peck was found by a policeman who was patrolling through Elstead Street with another policeman at 12.35am 12 March 1929. He said that when he reached Herne Buildings they saw something lying in the roadway at the other end of  Herne Buildings, the buildings running from Elstead Street to Flint Street, about 70 yards away. He said that it was at the Flint Street end. He said that they went to have a look and found Katherine Peck lying on her back with her head on the roadway and her feet on the footpath. He said that she was still breathing stentoriously. He said that his colleague shone his lamp and they saw blood on the road under her head. They then opened her coat and saw that she was bleeding from a wound to her throat. They then sent for an ambulance but she was later found dead by 1am at the hospital. They had a look for a weapon but found none.

The police took certain measurements and stated that the Wheatsheaf pub, The Essex Tavern and the Three Tuns were all within a minutes walk of Gardiner's Corner. They also said that they timed the walk from Gardiner's Corner to Hearn's Buildings which was just over two miles and said that it took 40 minutes to walk. They also measured the distance from Gardiner's Corner to Grange Road which they found to be 1 mile, 3 furlongs and taking about 30 minutes to walk. They also stated that the distance from Hearn's Buildings to Grange Road was about half a mile and took about 10 minutes to walk. The distance between Hearn's Building and 147 Tooley street was given as one and a quarter miles and taking 20 minutes to walk.

A woman that said she had know the man tried for Katherine Peck's murder said that she had known him for about 5 or 6 years as Tim Murphy. she said that she also knew Katherine Peck and said that she had seen them together for over two years in a number of pubs including Mann's which was really named The Three Tuns, in Aldgate, the Essex, also in Aldgate which was also called the Half Past Ten House as well as the Red Lion and the Wheatsheaf nearby. She said that they were there in the evenings, never the day, and were there every evening of the week.

She said that she knew Katherine Peck used to go cleaning for the Jews and also the picture palaces but that lately she had been on the streets.

She said that she once went to The Hercules pub just after Christmas where they were drinking and said that Katherine Peck started to laugh hearty and that when the man that was tried for her murder, who was in another bar with a friend of his heard, he came round and punched her in the eye and kicked her on the body and then ran away. She said that she then helped Katherine Peck to bathe her eye and that the next day she saw that Katherine Peck was much marked about the face.

She said that she saw Katherine Peck and the man that was charged with her murder together very often after that and that on Monday 11 March she had been down to Aldgate at about 5.45pm and went into the Wheatsheaf at about 6.45pm where she saw Katherine Peck with two other young women and two young chaps all drinking together. She said that she knew the girls but not the chaps who she said were paying for the drinks with 10/- notes. She said that they also paid for drinks all round the bar. She said that when they did that she saw Katherine Peck pick up the change and put it in her bag. She said that she stayed in the Wheatsheaf until about 9.55pm when she went to the Half Past Ten House. She said that when she got there she looked behind and saw Katherine Peck and saw her go to the corner of Mansell Street just opposite the Essex pub where she met the man that was tried for her murder. she said that she saw them having a conversation and then go into the Essex and that was the last time she saw them.

She said that the next day she saw the man that was tried for Katherine Peck's murder and said that she said 'I've heard some terrible news, I've heard some news that your young lady got murdered last night'. She said that the man replied saying 'No, it was not her, it was another girl'. She said that she asked the man what time he had left Katherine Peck and said that he told her 'Half-past twelve'. She said that she then told him that she wouldn't be long and would see him later but said that when she got back he was gone and that she didn't see him again.

By the time the man was arrested for Katherine Peck's murder he said he had given away his coat and did not know where the clothes that he had been wearing on the day had gone and as such there was no way of find out whether there had been blood on them or not.

In court there was little evidence against him although one man was said to have spoken to him and said that he had told him, 'I have done the old woman in. I am on the run' but the man denied that he had had a conversation with the man and said that he didn't know him. The judge agreed that it would be dangerous to convict on the evidence and the man was discharged.

In February 1935, the man that was acquitted of her murder was arrested for throwing a lump of concrete through a Home Office window, stating that he had a grievance for being fitted up for the murder. When questioned he said, 'I have a grievance. That is why I did it'. When he was brought before the magistrates he said, 'In 1929 I was on a capital charge at the Old Bailey. I was tried for murder and acquitted. Nine witnesses came forward and swore my life away. It was a frame-up charge. A man I did not know came and charged me in the name of ----, after that I found out his name was ----. He had been doing nothing else but frame up charges on people and working with the police. I have made lots of complaints against ----. I think something should be done. I have written to the Home Office and to a Lord, who sent his secretary to see me. I have also written to the Director of Public Prosecutions'.

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

see find.galegroup.com

see "Murder Verdict At Inquest." Times [London, England] 12 June 1929: 13. The Times Digital Archive. Web. 24 Feb. 2013.

see Gloucester Journal - Saturday 06 April 1929

see Hartlepool Northern Daily Mail - Friday 05 April 1929

see Aberdeen Press and Journal - Tuesday 11 June 1929

see Western Daily Press - Friday 26 April 1929

see Dundee Evening Telegraph - Monday 11 February 1935

see National Archives - MEPO 3/1647, CRIM 1/465