Unsolved Murders

Muriel Makinson

Age: 2

Sex: female

Date: 11 Sep 1951

Place: Highbury Hill, Islington, London

The remains of a female child were found in a sack at a house in Highbury Hill, Islington.

It was thought that they were the remains of Muriel Makinson who had vanished about eight years earlier when she was between 2 and 3 years old. The child was said to have been about 33 inches tall and was thought to have been dead for a considerable time.

It was heard that two fractures were found in the child's skull, but it was said that they were definitely due to the effect of heat and it was said that the child’s body had definitely been exposed to fire at some stage after death.

No other injuries were found, but it was noted that one arm and both legs below the knees were missing.

The pathologist said that he had been unable to determine the cause of death.

The body was found in the house by a 16-year-old child, the eldest of nine, on top of a cupboard when she was searching for a ball. When the coroner asked the girl whether she had ever had a sister called 'Muriel' the girl replied, 'Yes', and when she was asked when she last saw her, she said, 'About eight years ago'.

When she was further questioned, the girl said that she didn't know what had happened to Muriel but said that she had no reason to believe that she was dead.

When she was asked about the last time that she saw Muriel she told the inquest about a night eight years earlier when Muriel vanished and that she never saw her alive again. She said, 'I was seven then. When I last saw her, she was in bed for the night. We all slept in the same room. When I woke up, she was not there. She just disappeared during the night. I never found out what happened to her'.

When the girl’s father was called to the witness box, the coroner told him that he need not answer any questions about the discovery of the body, and after he consulted his solicitor he said that he would prefer not to answer any questions.

The mother also declined to give evidence at the inquest.

However, it was noted that she had been questioned by the police and had made a number of statements to them.

In her first statement to the police, she was alleged to have told them that she had found Muriel Makinson dead in bed when she had gone to take her a glass of milk. It was heard that she had said, 'I panicked. I did not know what to do. I had not the money for a funeral and so I thought I would keep the body. I didn't put it in a sack for several weeks. I put it in a drawer in a white nightdress'.

It was said that they had been bombed during the war and had evacuated to Rotherham in Yorkshire and that when they had returned the body was still in the house.

However, it was also heard that in another alleged statement that the mother had made, she had said that she had smacked Muriel Makinson and that she had fallen against a gas stove. It was heard that she had said, 'I did not intend to hurt my baby'.

It was also heard that she had made a third statement in which she described returning to their house after the evacuation and having tried to burn the body. It was heard that she had said, 'I built a fire in a room above the kitchen. I put the body on the fire and left it there until it went out. I saw it had not been destroyed'.

After the pathologist heard the mother's statement regarding the death of Muriel Makinson he said that her explanation for Muriel Makinson's death in her alleged statements was unlikely to have been made up, saying that she gave a recognisable picture, which a layman was unlikely to know, of death from haemorrhage of the brain.

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

see www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk

see Coventry Evening Telegraph - Tuesday 11 September 1951, p12

see Portsmouth Evening News - Tuesday 11 September 1951

see Daily Mirror - Wednesday 12 September 1951

see Daily Mirror - Thursday 27 September 1951