Unsolved Murders

Gwynneth Rees

Age: 22

Sex: female

Date: 8 Nov 1963

Place: Mortlake, London

Gwynneth Rees was found in a rubbish tip on 8 November 1963.

It was thought she had been strangled.

She was found in the rubbish tip in Mortlake near the River Thames when a mechanical digger disturbed the dump.

She was also known as Georgette Rees, Tina Smart and Tina Dawson.

She had come to London from Barry in Wales five years earlier and for most of her time in London she had lived in Stepney in the East End, however, on 8 August 1963 she went to live in a basement flat at Warriner Gardens in Battersea which she shared with a blonde woman who at the time of her death had been in prison. She had left the flat in Battersea on 12 September 1963 and was seen in Stepney for the next three days, then she disappeared.

She was said to  have lived at 29 Quarella Street in Barry. She was said to have left Barry for the bright lights of London and in search of a gay life.

The dump where her body was found was described mostly as a field of clinker and an ash-field, with the River Thames ahead, the main Mortlake road one hundred yards away and the cemetery to the side. It was also described as having been 40 yards from the Thames towpath and 1 mile from Duke's Meadow where Elizabeth Figg was found on the other side of the River Thames.

When she was first found it was thought that she had been on the dump for four or five months, or even up to a year earlier. She had been decapitated by the workman that had dug her up and it was initially reported in the press that the 'dismembered body of a woman' had been found.

It was reported on 9 November 1963, the day after she was discovered, that she might have been a strangler's second victim, as her body was found only a quarter of a mile away where Elizabeth Figgs body was found four years earlier.

The ash was being removed for use in a road works. The workman that discovered her, a 23-year-old council-workman, said that he first saw legs dangling from the ash he was lifting and then saw the head a few feet away. It was reported that she had been under two feet of tightly packed ash at the dump which was owned by Barnes Council.

It was reported that throughout the time that the body had been there that rubbish lorries had been dumping at the spot with scores of workmen busy there and that children had been making frequent searches there for discarded articles they could use. It was also noted that on Guy Fawkes Night, children and parents from the council flats in the area had had a bonfire near the spot.

A night watchman said:

The road leading to the dump is a favourite haunt for courting couples.

After the workman first discovered her body, the dump was searched and various other parts of her body were collected and later assembled for x-ray to identify any fractured that could lead to her identification.

Pieces of clothing were also found, including:

  • Two nylon stockings.
  • Parts of a pink slip.
  • A suspender belt.
  • Pieces of panties.
  • A jagged [iece of cloth, probably from a skirt.
  • Some silky material, which could have been a blouse.
  • False teeth.
  • Spectacles.

However, it was mostly reported that she had been found naked with only one stocking on her left leg and its not clear whether the other items were connected to her or not.

Fingerprint men were also said to be examining traces of skin that could yield part of a fingerprint.

After her body was found it was removed to Kingston Hospital where a post-mortem examination was carried out.

Following the discovery of her body the police set up an office at Leman Street in Stepney whilst detectives searched for men that had known her and appealed for any of the men that had known her to come forward to help them piece together her life. It was also reported that the police received a flood of information about her last days in what was known as the 'body-on-the-dump' case.

It was reported that the police first learnt of Gwynneth Rees's disappearance when she failed to show up for the wedding of one of her sisters in Barry in October 1963.

She had been known as the 'Rubbish dump girl' until Tuesday 26 November 1963 when she was named by Scotland Yard as Gwynneth Rees.

It was reported that since coming to London in 1959 that she had often been seen with men in cars in many parts of London and it was accepted generally that she had been a prostitute. She was said to have frequented Stepney most where she was best known in the clubs and cafes. She was also noted for having been seen with men in the Battersea area. It was also said that she was 'well known in the Angel area of Islington'.

Amongst the men that Gwynneth Rees had known, the police said that they were trying to trace a man from the Notting Hill district of London known as Terry. He was described as:

  • Age about 34.
  • Height 5ft 8in tall.
  • Well built.
  • Curly fair hair.
  • Blue eyes.
  • Wears thick-lens spectacles.
  • General appearance, scruffy.
  • 3in scar on right arm and a Red Indian tattoo. On the back of his right hand, a rose tattoo.

When Gwynneth Rees was last seen she had been wearing an imitation full-length brown coat and grey leopard skin coat with a very wide collar.

She was described as:

  • 5ft 2 in tall.
  • Short dark brown hair.

Gwynneth Rees's sister said that Gwynneth Rees had stayed with her for four years in Canvey Island after she left Barry and that she had had two children, a boy aged 11 months and a girl aged 5. She said that the flat she had lived in between 8 August and 12 September 1963 with the other woman had cost her £5 a week.

It was said that Gwynneth Rees had several teeth missing and that she had possibly had some false teeth.

It was also reported that it was thought she had been attacked about 75 yards from her home.

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

see en.wikipedia.org

see National Archives - MEPO 2/10292

see Wikipedia

see National Library of Scotland

see Daily Mirror - Wednesday 27 November 1963

see Grimsby Daily Telegraph - Tuesday 26 November 1963

see Daily Mirror - Monday 11 November 1963

see Daily Herald - Saturday 09 November 1963

see Daily Mirror - Saturday 09 November 1963

see Daily Mirror - Wednesday 04 December 1963

see Nottingham Guardian - Wednesday 27 November 1963

see Daily Herald - Wednesday 27 November 1963

see Hull Daily Mail - Wednesday 27 November 1963

see Belfast News-Letter - Wednesday 27 November 1963

see Peterborough Evening Telegraph - Wednesday 27 November 1963

see Halifax Evening Courier - Tuesday 26 November 1963

see The Scotsman - Wednesday 27 November 1963