Unsolved Murders

Norman Rickard

Age: 38

Sex: male

Date: 17 Feb 1962

Place: 264A Elgin Avenue, Maida Vale

Norman Rickard was found dead in a wardrobe in his flat at 264A Elgin Avenue, Maida Vale on 19 February 1962.

It was thought he had been murdered on or before 14 February 1962.

He was found naked with his hands bound behind his back and strangled.

His murder was connected to the murder of John Vigar who was found in a similar condition on 20 February 1962.

Norman Rickard had been a civil servant.

The police interviewed 2,000 people and took 400 statements, but the killer was not found.

His inquest was held on Thursday 24 May 1962 at St Pancras where a verdict of murder by person or persons unknown was returned.

Norman Rickard had been a civil servant working at the Admiralty. 264A Elgin Avenue was owned by a retired Civil Servant who was Norman Rickard's landlord. His landlord said that Norman Rickard had been living with him since the middle of 1961. He said:

I saw very little of him. But he was a good, quiet tenant who paid his rent regularly.

He said that on 14 February 1962 that a man called at the house from the Admiralty saying that Norman Rickard had not been into work and inquired as to whether he was ill. He said:

Mr Rickard's flat was locked, but we got in and looked around. There were no signs of disorder or upset.

However, he noted that there had been three days’ supply of milk outside.

He said that a few days later a woman police constable called and looked around Norman Rickard's room, and then on the following Monday two women police constables arrived. The landlord said:

They said they were looking for certain personal articles of Mr Rickard's and said that if they were not there it would show he had gone away and taken them with him.

The landlord said that they searched through his drawers and suitcases and then thought that they had better look into the wardrobe to see if there were any papers in there. He said:

The wardrobe was locked but they opened it and I could see the body inside.

A man that had lived in Islingwood Place in Brighton said that during the afternoon of Saturday 10 February 1962 he saw Norman Rickard in Marble Arch. He said:

I recollect seeing him round Marble Arch on previous occasions, but on that afternoon I got into conversation with him in the Edgeware Road. We walked around and looked at the shops and then went to Foyle's bookshop where I believe he bought a book.

He went on to say that he left Norman Rickard at about 5.30pm and arranged to meet him later at Maida Vale station and that Norman Rickard agreed to meet him between 8pm and 8.15pm. However, he said that when Norman Rickard didn't turn up that he found his house and rang the bell of the flat but got no reply. He then said:

I went back to the station and waited a while and then went back again but there was still no reply.

However, he said that he then went back to the station and decided to wait a little longer in case he turned up and then saw him coming up the road with another man. He said that Norman Rickard saw him, but didn't speak to him as he  passed with the other man, going in the direction of his flat.

He said that on both occasions Norman Rickard had been wearing a leather jacket, blue jeans and leather boots with high heels. He noted that the other man was dressed 'quite differently' with a dark raincoat and ordinary suit trousers showing beneath.

He noted that since Norman Rickard's body was found that he had attended identity parades but had not been able to identify anyone as the person he saw with Norman Rickard.

The man said:

It was pure accident that I met Rickard that afternoon, but if he had kept the appointment he would have been quite safe with me.

When he was questioned by the Coroner, he said that he did believe that Norman Rickard had been a homosexual.

A German domestic servant who gave evidence with the aid of an interpreter who had lived in Biddulph Mansions in Paddington said that Norman Rickard introduced himself to her at about 7pm on the Saturday evening in a Piccadilly restaurant. She said that he started chatting to her about the weather and that they then left the restaurant together and went for a walk, looking at shop windows and then both caught the same train and both got off at Maida Vale. She said that she then walked with him along Elgin Avenue, noting that he seemed very nervous and had looked around as if he thought there was someone following him.

She said that she had been wearing trousers on the evening concerned and that Norman Rickard had been wearing a tweed jacket and black shoes.

The pathologist that carried out the post mortem said that he had first examined Norman Rickard's body whilst it was still in the wardrobe. He said that his body had been upside down in the wardrobe with his head resting against some shoes and that he had been dead for some time.  He said that a dressing gown cord was knotted around his neck and that there was a singlet acting as a gag in his mouth and his wrists were tied behind his back with electric flex. He said:

It would have been quite impossible for him to have tied himself in this way alone.

He gave his cause of death as strangulation, adding:

It seems that he died from asphyxia during some unnatural practice.

A police detective superintendent said that so far, the man that had seen Norman Rickard earlier in the day and waited for him at the station and the German woman had been unable to reconcile their ideas on what Norman Rickard had been wearing when they saw him. However, he noted that Norman Rickard must have been alive on the Sunday morning after the man and the woman had seen him on the Saturday. The police detective superintendent said:

For he posted a letter home to Plymouth on the Sunday morning in which he mentioned listening to the 1 o'clock news and the weather forecasts. He said in the letter that he was going to have lunch and go for a walk before the rain came on.

The detective added that they had found Norman Rickard's jewellery concealed in his flat as well as his wallet and said that his cases and a holdall were found padlocked. He said:

He had apparently gone out expecting to bring someone home with him.

Noting that it was understood that robbery was a common fear among homosexuals of Norman Rickard's type.

The detective said that since Norman Rickard's body had been found that 2,000 people had been interviewed and 400 statements taken, but said that they had been unable to unearth the person concerned.

When the Coroner summed up he said:

Clearly this man was indulging in unnatural practice with another and sometime during this practice he died. It is clear that he had gone out to solicit because he had locked his valuables away.

The Coroner went on to state that an unnatural practice involving violence was 'a regrettable but fairly standard perversion'. He said that tied up as he was, Norman Rickard was exposed to risked, but that it was up to the jury to decide whether his death merely occurred during the act or whether there had been any intention to do injury and rob him.

It was also noted at the inquest that the police were also treating the case of Alan John Vigar, who was murdered at 29 St Georges Drive, Pimlico on 19 February 1962, as being connected.

After hearing the evidence the jury returned a verdict of murder by person or persons unknown.

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

see find.galegroup.com

see "Similarities In Four Murders." Times [London, England] 22 Feb. 1962: 6. The Times Digital Archive. Web. 3 Mar. 2013.

see National Archives - MEPO 2/10450

see Marylebone Mercury - Friday 25 May 1962 (includes photograph of Norman Rickard)