Unsolved Murders

Maria Jane Boyle

Age: unknown

Sex: female

Date: 22 Jan 1911

Place: Hermitage Woods, Braids Hill, Edinburgh

Maria Boyle was found strangled in a wood.

She was last seen at 7.30pm when she left her house saying that she was going to see her little girl who was staying with her mother. Sightings of her around town that night were made but none of them were of her with another man.

Her throat bore marks of fingers as a result of pressure and a silk scarf around her neck was so tightly drawn that it had to be cut away. Beneath the scarf the police found 2-3 bruises on her skin. Her body was still warm at the time and it was thought that she had not been dead for more than 6 hours.

Police took a mould of the footprints that were found near her body but they lacked any special marks such as nails making the clue of less value.

A professor who saw her body soon after said that her face was covered with a hat and that her face was covered in blood and that she had froth and blood coming from both of her eyes. It was also noticed that the pocket from her dress had also been torn out. It was later discovered that she had 7 shillings inside one of her stockings.

The ground on which she was found showed no signs of a struggle.

She was the wife of a platelayer from Leith and had lived in Waddell Place, Leith.

A local surfaceman was arrested on the Thursday but later released after saying that he had never been to Braid Hill before in his life. After releasing the man, the police said that they were focussing their attention on the identity of a man that she had been seen with on the Saturday night in St Mary Street at 10.30pm as well as another man that had been seen in the South Oswald Road district about midnight. One of the men had been seen by both a policeman and a medical student and had asked the medical student if he had blood on his face. The medical student said that the man had blood on both his moustache and hands and had told the man so. However, it was also considered that it might have been a coincidence to have seen a man in that condition on a Sunday morning due to the number of fights that took place on the Saturday nights. it was also noted that Maria Boyle had been strangled and that there was little blood on her face that could have transferred to the killer.

Maria Jane Boyle was also known as Maria Jane Morrison. She had been married for nine years and had two children. Since the Musselburgh race the previous September she had developed intemperate habits and had started staying out all night on several occasions.

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

see www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk

see Aberdeen Journal - Thursday 26 January 1911

see Exeter and Plymouth Gazette - Monday 23 January 1911, page 3

see The Scotsman - Thursday 02 February 1911

see Dundee Courier - Wednesday 25 January 1911

see Dundee Evening Telegraph - Thursday 09 February 1911