Unsolved Murders

Sylvia Styles

Age: 26

Sex: female

Date: 27 Jan 1948

Place: Syon Lane, Brentford, Middlesex

Sylvia Styles was strangled after she had been to the cinema at about 11pm on Tuesday 27 January 1948. She was found dead the following morning.

Her body was found on a dimly-lit footpath that ran between the Thames and Brentford High Street near Syon House in Isleworth. Her body was identified by her brother who lived in Harthorn Hatch in Brentford.

She was last seen getting off a trolley-bus in Brentford, near where she lived, with a 'tall man' as well as with a 'big man' near a footpath. It was thought that she had gone out with an Irishman called 'Danny', who was a sailor, but he was never traced, and the police later suggested that there was no such person as 'Danny'.

She was said to have gone to the Broadway Cinema in Hammersmith with the man on the night she was murdered.

When she was found she was still fully dressed except for one of her gloves that was found nearby lying against a wall. The police said that her wristwatch was missing and had not been traced. Her handbag was also missing, and the police said that they thought that she had been attacked and robbed.

She was found by a cleaner who worked at the West Middlesex Hospital nurses' hostel which was in Syon Park.

The police said that she was fully dressed when found and that there were signs of a struggle having taken place on the wall and on the ground near the wall by where she was found.

A woman who lived in Syon Terrace who lived a short distance from where Sylvia Styles's body was found said, 'I went to bed just after 11 last night and about half an hour later I heard a woman cry out repeatedly, 'Let go of my arm', she sounded agitated and a bit frightened'. However, she said that she didn't take much notice because the place was a favourite meeting spot for couples.

The medical evidence fixed the time of Sylvia Styles's death as 11pm on 27 January 1948. Pressure marks were found on her neck corresponding to a thumb and fingers. The pathologist said, 'I consider she was strangled with one hand, the left hand'. He added that he thought that she had probably died within 15 to 20 seconds. A doctor said that there were indications that there had been an attempted assault.

The police said that they visited every house between Kew Bridge and the Great West Road and every house in Brentford with a view to identifying her companion but without success.

A labourer who lived in Cherry Crescent in Brentford gave evidence at the inquest stating that he had gone out with Sylvia Styles on the Sunday before she was murdered and had been to the cinema with her and arranged to meet her later but didn't do so. However, it was heard at the inquest that when the police first saw him and asked him whether he had ever been out with Sylvia Styles he had said that he hadn't, stating that he 'used to see Sylvia Styles around' and that she used to speak to him sometimes. However, he later admitted to seeing her on the Sunday and to arranging to meet her on the Monday and Tuesday evenings at 7pm at the corner of Beech Avenue, but didn't keep the appointments, stating that he went to meet a fellow at Kew Bridge. He said, 'I spoke to her on the Sunday before she was murdered. We went to the pictures together'. He denied that he had ever kissed her.

The labourer said that on the Tuesday evening, 27 January 1948, that he went to Kew Bridge at about 6pm and met his friend, a newspaper seller, who he talked to and that he then caught the bus home at 9.30pm and was indoors at 10pm, and that he hadn't seen Sylvia Styles.

A woman that worked with Sylvia Styles said that Sylvia Styles told her on 27 January 1948 that she was going to meet a sailor called 'Danny'. She said, 'That day was the first time she mentioned Danny'.

However, the police were unable to trace anyone named Danny and said that they doubted that he had ever existed. They said, 'We have even gone to the north of Scotland and the Isle of Wight in our enquiries. Danny has not been traced and I doubt whether he ever existed. There is no mention of any men in her diaries'. The police search for 'Danny' was also intensified in the Midlands and North with long-distance lorry drivers asked whether they had picked up any men answering to 'Danny's' description after midnight on the Tuesday. The police added that they had also kept a watch on ports, including Holyhead and Stranraer, in case 'Danny' tried to make his way to Ireland where it was thought his home was.

'Danny' was described as being about 30 years old, 5ft 10in tall, with dark eyebrows and probably with dark wavy hair. He was thought to have been wearing a black or dark blue double-breasted overcoat and a dark snap brim trilby.

A labourer from Brentford said that he had seen Sylvia Styles and a man on 27 January 1948 waiting to alight from a trolly-bus at 10.40pm on 27 January 1948. He said that when they got off he saw them go off towards Ealing Road, in the opposite direction to which Sylvia Styles lived. He said that the man was between 5ft 9in and 6ft tall and wore a black overcoat and a dark trilby hat.

A factory policeman who lived in Hornbeam Crescent in Brentford said that at 11.17pm on 27 January 1948 he saw Sylvia Styles with a 'big man'. He said, 'I thought she was intoxicated or exhausted. He had his arm around her waist and her hair was hanging down. I saw Sylvia push him away. It seemed as if he were trying to get her to go down the footpath and she did not seem willing'.

Her brother said that Sylvia Styles was a bright and cheerful girl who had no men friends as far as he knew. However, he said that on the afternoon of Tuesday 27 January 1948 Sylvia Styles told his mother that she would not be going straight home from work but didn't say where she was going.

Her mother said that Sylvia Styles had few interests apart from books and the cinema. She said that she never went dancing and didn't like make-up.

Sylvia Styles sister-in-law said that she had only seen Sylvia Styles in the company of a man twice.

She was a factory worker and had lived in Beech Avenue in Isleworth, about 300 yards from where she was found dead, with her mother and brother. She had been employed in a factory off Brentford High Street making lamp shades.

Her inquest on Tuesday 16 March 1948 returned a verdict of 'Murder by some person or persons unknown'.

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

see www.truecrimelibrary.com

see National Archives - MEPO 3/2996

see Birmingham Daily Gazette - Wednesday 17 March 1948

see Shields Daily News - Wednesday 28 January 1948

see Liverpool Echo - Tuesday 16 March 1948

see Hull Daily Mail - Tuesday 16 March 1948

see Hull Daily Mail - Friday 30 January 1948

see Gloucester Citizen - Thursday 29 January 1948