Unsolved Murders

Frances Hodgson

Age: 67

Sex: female

Date: 1 Apr 1955

Place: Garnet Street, Leeds Road, Bradford

Frances Hodgson was attacked and stabbed in her lock-up general store in Garnett Street, Bradford on Thursday 31 March 1955 and died the following day in Bradford Royal Infirmary at about 5.30pm.

She was found unconscious in her sweet shop in a pool of blood. After she was taken to Bradford Royal Infirmary detectives kept a watch by her bedside in case she regained consciousness, but she died without doing so.

She had suffered a fractured skull and stab wounds to her right side and died from hypostatic bronchial pneumonia. The pathologist that examined her body said he found extensive injuries to her skull and left hand and wounds to her right side. He noted that it was clear that she had received long and patient surgical treatment in hospital.

Frances Hodgson's sweet and grocery store was described as having been flourishing.

A woman that had lived at 216 Undercliffe Street in Bradford said that Frances Hodgson was the widow of her husband’s brother. She said that after the death of her husband in 1945 that Frances Hodgson lived with her at 216 Undercliffe Street for seven years after which she took a house at 212 Undercliffe Street where she lived alone.

Following her death the police said, 'We are still concentrating our efforts in the Garnett Street district. It is reasonable to suppose that the man we want to see and who attacked Mrs Hodgson was known to her. Taking that view, it is also reasonable to suppose that he was a customer of Mrs Hodgson. Many houses in Garnett Street have been demolished in recent years and former residents have gone to live in other parts of the city. We are now seeking out those people who have left the district recently and who used to be customers of Mrs Hodgson. Some who left Garnett Street and surrounding streets still come back to shop with Mrs Hodgson. We want to interview them all. We shall probably be able to trace most of them, but it would simplify matters and expedite interviews if those people would come forward'.

The police later said that they were interviewing everyone that had lived or worked within half a mile of Frances Hodgson's shop. At the time, 5 April 1955, the police said that they had interviewed about 1,500 people and that they had concentrated their efforts on seeking information concerning the period between 4.30pm and 5pm on the Thursday 31 March 1955. They noted that they were also looking for people who might have been missing from their place of work, home or lodgings around that time.

It was noted that the search for the murder weapon, which was thought to have been a dagger, was intensified and all street sewer grates in he area were emptied and he sludge in them sifted through for it. The police noted that they found three knives during the search, but didn't think that any of them had been the murder weapon.

The police initially said that they were looking for a black-haired man who was thought to be aged about 30 who had been seen in Frances Hodgson's shop by an eight-year-old girl at about 4.30pm on the Thursday 31 March 1955. He was described as being of about average height with black hair that was brushed back with a thin face and clean shaven. They said that they thought that the man had been wearing a blue gabardine raincoat and grey trousers.

The day after the murder the eight-year-old girl stood with detectives in Garnett Street between 4.30pm and 5pm to see if she could see the man again, but she didn't.

During the investigation the police appealed, on Monday 4 April 1955, for a boy that had told a girl that he had seen a man leave Frances Hodgson's shop around the time she was murdered to come forward.

The police said that they were also looking for a rag-and-bone man who had been seen driving a horse and cart in Garnet street between 4.30pm and 5pm to come forward.

The police added that they were also looking for another man that they had received information about who had been seen in Garnett Street who was described as having had 'red spots' on his clothing.

The police noted that six of her other customers had already been traced and interviewed.

The police also visited suit cleaning firms locally and further afield to see if anyone had handed in any blood stained clothing, but none had.

The police noted that they had spoken to a man on the phone who had told them that he had some information about Frances Hodgson's murder. They said that they had asked the man to stay in the telephone box until the police could arrive but said that when they got there he had vanished. However, they later said that the man had later been traced and interviewed but had not been able to help.

A team of experts from the Forensic Science Laboratory in Harrogate were also called out to examine the contents of the shops.

It was noted that a man that ran a shop about 20 yards from where Frances Hodgson's shop was said that about a fortnight earlier a man had come into his shop and demanded £1 from his wife.

Frances Hodgson was cremated privately at Scholemoor Crematorium in Bradford on Thursday 6 April 1955.

When her inquest concluded on 16 June 1955 the jury returned that verdict that Frances Hodgson had died from hypostatic bronchial pneumonia following a fracture of the skull and stab wounds feloniously inflicted by a person or persons unknown.

When her will was settled on 3 September 1955 her estate was valued at £7,606 gross (£7,471 net, duty paid £225).

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

see www.westyorkshire.police.uk

see Bradford Observer - Wednesday 06 April 1955

see Bradford Observer - Tuesday 05 April 1955

see Coventry Evening Telegraph - Saturday 03 September 1955

see Coventry Evening Telegraph - Monday 04 April 1955

see Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer - Tuesday 05 April 1955

see Bradford Observer - Saturday 02 April 1955