Unsolved Murders

James Henry Riley

Age: 56

Sex: male

Date: 30 Dec 1929

Place: Huntley Brook, Mellor, Samlesbury

James Henry Riley was found dead in Huntley Brook with a puncture wound to his neck.

He was found in the Huntley Brook near the Myerscough Hotel.

He had a deep puncture wound about half to threequarters of an inch wide on his neck.

He was last seen leaving his home on the Friday, 27 December 1929 and was found in the brook on 30 December.

His son said that when he last saw James Riley he was in his usual state of good health, and cheerful. He said that the next day, the Saturday, he received a letter in his father's writing essentially stating that he owed a lot of money and asking him to take a smaller house and to take care of his younger brother.

When he had left home James Riley had had a watch and gold chain as well as a wallet and when he was found there was no money and no watch or chain.

The Coroner said that it would have been difficult for the wound to have been self-inflicted.

His body was found by a farmer who was looking for his hens. He said that James Riley's feet were in the water but that the rest of his body was in the drain entrance with his head under some brambles. He said that there was a broken fence on the opposite side of the brook that he had not noticed before.

A policeman said that he found no signs of a struggle. He said that when he examined the throat wound he saw that it was by the jugular vein and was so deep that the thorax could be seen. He said that the water had washed the wound clean and that it was white. He also found a knife in his trouser pocket with marks on it which appeared to be rust although it was thought that it was improbable that the knife had been used to inflict the wound. Nearby they also found a walking stick.

The fence was at the top of a bank, about 10ft. above the brook and was rotten and had one of the stoops broken at a spot near to where the body was found.

When the Coroner was summing up he said 'See how awkward it is for a man to inflict a hole in his own neck of this sort'. He added that it the wound would more easily caused by a third party. However, he also said that that was conjecture and that James Riley might have had a heart attack and fallen in the brook and drowned. There were no other marks of violence on his body.

He also said that there were two days unaccounted for in which James Riley might have been in Preston.

He was an estate agent and had lived on Leamington Road in Blackburn.

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

see www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk

see Lancashire Evening Post - Tuesday 31 December 1929