Unsolved Murders


Age: 0

Sex: male

Date: 3 Apr 1932

Place: River Tone, Taunton

The body of a newly-born child was found in the River Tone on 3 April 1932.

The child was found by a platelayer who lived in Wedlands Terrace in Taunton as he was walking along the bank of the River Tone from Tangier towards French Weir Falls. He said that he saw two boys and two girls playing and looking at a parcel on the bank that was tied up in brown paper. He said that the children asked him to cut the parcel to see what was in it and so he borrowed a knife from one of the children and removed one piece of paper after which he saw some white cloth and some pink cloth. He said that he then opened one end and saw some toes and the legs of a baby. He said that he then sent for a policeman and waited there for them to arrive.

The parcel was said to be about 18 inches long and 10 inches wide.

The children said that when they first saw it, it was floating in the river, and that it was caught on a shrub or a nail in a wall.

The child's body was naked except for a coarse seamless piece of material.

The doctor that carried out the post-mortem said that the child was about 8lbs and had apparently been in the water or other insanitary surroundings for nearly two months. He said that the head and face were flattened against the box as if it had laid for some time under a heavy weight leaving its features unrecognisable. He said that there were no fractured bones and said that the child would have had red hair.

He said that there was a deep groove around its neck and a length of rough brown string was tied loosely but that within the groove was a piece of white tape that had circled the neck twice and then been tied in a rough bow.

The doctor said that there were no signs of drowning.

The doctor also said that he thought that the child had been born alive and had died soon after, saying that it had lived for between 5 minutes and 24 hours. He added that there was nothing to show that it had died from natural causes and that it had been a fine healthy child.

He noted that he would not expect to find any signs of asphyxia in such an advanced state of decomposition and was not prepared to state on the post-mortem examination what the cause of death was.

The Coroner said that he thought that it was extraordinary that the doctor was able to give so much information and appealed to the press that if anyone had seen someone during the last two months carrying a parcel along the river that they should inform the police so that enquiries could be made.

The jury returned the verdict that death was by strangulation.

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

see www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk

see Western Daily Press - Wednesday 06 April 1932

see Taunton Courier, and Western Advertiser - Wednesday 28 September 1932

see Taunton Courier, and Western Advertiser - Wednesday 06 April 1932