Unsolved Murders

Alexander James Ash

Age: 74

Sex: male

Date: 12 Mar 2007

Place: 34 St Leonard Close, Boston, Lincolnshire

Alexander Ash died in a fire at his bungalow. He died from smoke inhalation.

The fire was discovered by his neighbour.

The fire had been started with petrol that was first thought to have been poured in through his letterbox, and a petrol can was found near his bungalow. However, the fire brigade later said that they thought that the petrol had been poured in the house and not through the letterbox as first thought. It was determined that the petrol in the petrol can that was found near Alexander Ash's house had contained the same type of petrol that was found in Alexander Ash's lawn-mower and to have also had Alexander Ash's DNA on it.

When the fire brigade arrived, they had to enter the bungalow via the rear of the bungalow as the front door was blocked by piles of flat-packed furniture.

The police said that they had found no evidence of a motive for his murder.

Alexander Ash was described as openly gay.

He was said to have lived in St Leonard's Close for the previous six years and to have lived in Boston for the previous 20 years.

He was initially from Keighly in Yorkshire.

In the 1960's he had worked as a cabaret performer with a partner who the police said that they were trying to trace, although they later found out that the cabaret partner had died sometime before.

Alexander Ash had lived above a salon and had run a hair salon himself in the late 1970s at 143 Skipton Road in Keighley. It was thought that he had managed that business in 1976 and 1977 and that it had closed in 1979. The police said that Alexander Ash had been in business then with a partner, who they named, and that they were trying to trace that man, but no further information about the former business partner is known.

Whilst in Boston in the 1980s he had run a carpet shop in High Street. 

He was also thought to have worked in Peterborough in the early 1980s and to have property interests in Stonegate, Gedney which he sold in 1987.

Later in January 1989 he opened a furnishing store called Michael James Interiors with a theatrical feel at Whapole Garage, 42 High Road in Whaplode. However, the business was not successful and in June 1989 the business was sold off and contractors that had carried out the refurbishment of the shop were paid part sums of the amounts owing to them, with one builder being paid £1,500 in partial satisfaction of the £8,249 that Alexander Ash owed him. He also put his house in Stonegate, Gedney and the shop at 42 High Road on the market with the intention of paying of his debts with the proceeds. However, several contractors were never paid by James Ash for the work they did on his furniture shop. The contractors were later questioned by the police.

Alexander Ash was also thought to have worked as a taxi-driver in the 1990s.

He had been employed by Asda to work in their store and had also cut grass between 2000 and 2001.

He had also worked at a number of care homes, including the Willoughby Road Care Home around 2002 and 2003, Hunters Creek around 2004 and a similar care home in Gosberton.

He had been a member of the Workhouse Gym since the end of October 2006 and had previously been a member of Creations Gym.

On 5 April 2007 the police went to Keighley in Yorkshire to try and trace his former cabaret act partner who was described as theatrical and flamboyant. James Ash and the man had worked as a cabaret act across the northern circuit together in the 1960s and also gone to London, working together until James Ash left to go to Boston to run his hair furniture shop. However, they found that the former cabaret partner had died some time before.

The police appealed for anyone that might have seen Alexander Ash's car around the time he was murdered. It was a white Mazda 626 saloon with registration G657 APO.

He was buried in Skirbeck Church in Boston on 4 May 2007. It was noted that Alexander Ash had given strict instructions about his funeral before he died, checking that everything was in place a few weeks before. It was noted that it wasn't known whether that was by chance, whether he had had a premonition or whether he had planned to commit suicide.

It was noted that Alexander Ash was apparently devastated in April 1990 when a close friend of his, a 20-year-old man died after hanging himself and that after the man's death he had gone to the cemetery and reserved a plot there so that he could be nearby his friend. He also arranged for his funeral service to be conducted at the same church as the youth had had his. It was also noted that that arrangement was considered with disgust by the young dead man's family.

It was later heard that Alexander Ash was fixated with the man that hung himself and would often talk to him as though he was in the room with him.

It was noted that at Alexander Ash's funeral, two plain clothes policemen attended in order to identify anyone that they didn't know, and that they spoke to one person there who spoke to the supposed sale of the property at Stonegate and 42 High Street and the fact that the builder didn't get any money from the sale of the properties. It was heard then that the police replied by telling the man that Alexander Ash had never owned the shop premises at 42 High Street in Boston.

In December 2007 an open verdict was returned at his inquest.

It was heard that although his death had been treated as a murder enquiry, the police said that after taking more than 250 statements, that they had started to consider the option that Alexander Ash had started the fire himself. However, they said that 'There was no conclusive proof that Mr Ash threw the petrol himself'. However, a station manager in South Holland also said that in all probability, the fire had been the act of another person.

Alexander Ash's brother said that he had not seen Alexander Ash for 20 years, but said that Alexander Ash had 'always wanted the world to pay attention to him and make a statement'. His brother noted that Alexander Ash had previously tried to take his own life twice, taking overdoses of medication, but also that the episodes had been 'attention-seeking'.

It was noted that the fact that Alexander Ash had owed several contractors money as not mentioned at the inquest.

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