Unsolved Murders


Age: 30 to 40

Sex: male

Date: 19 Jan 1913

Place: Bovey Tracey, Dartmoor, Devon

A skeleton was found in a wood near Bovey Tracey on Sunday 19 January 1913 by a man walking his dog.

The wood was close to the main road, about 60 to 70 yards from it, between Hay Tor and Bovey Tracey, about a mile and a half from Bovey Tracey. The wood was on the Colehayes Estate.

It was thought that the Skeleton was that of a man aged about 40. It was fully clothed in a complete but much rotted blue serge suit, a flannelette shirt, a pair of socks, brown lace-up boots that were much worn down at the heels and had been wearing a 16 1/2 inch collar and had a scarf was tied round his trousers in lien of braces. It was also thought that he hat been wearing a straw hat, the remains of which were thought to have also been found.

It was noted that all of the bones were inside the clothes but that the skull was detached from the trunk and that there was not a particle of flesh visible on his remains.

It was said that no sooner had the form of the man been touched that they fell to pieces among the clothes.

There was nothing in its pockets to indicate the man's identity although when his clothes were searched the police found an empty black spectacle case, a short clay pipe with the initials RAOB on it which was said to have stood for Royal Antediluvian Order of Buffaloes, an engraved horn, two pieces of a small bone comb, a small broken mirror, three pieces of a lead pencil, one halfpenny, and a small empty bottle used for tabloids with a metal screw top.

At the inquest the coroner noted that the combs and mirror might have been carried so that the man could put himself right before he entered a town, which was received with laughter from the court.

He was found lying on his side in a sleeping position and it was thought that the remains had been there for about two years, and at least 12 months.

A doctor that examined the remains said that they were the remains of a man aged between 30 and 40 and that there were no signs of any injuries. He said that the skull was perfect and that the man's teeth had been in excellent condition, noting that in fact there was not one missing. He said that the man appeared to have been well dressed and that he would have stood about 5ft 8in tall.

The police said that they thought that the remains were those of a tramp and that he might have gone into the wood to sleep and then died.

An open verdict was returned.

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

see www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk

see Exeter and Plymouth Gazette - Friday 24 January 1913, p16

see Manchester Courier and Lancashire General Advertiser - Tuesday 21 January 1913

see Exeter and Plymouth Gazette - Friday 24 January 1913

see Longford Journal - Saturday 01 February 1913

see Western Times - Friday 24 January 1913