Unsolved Murders

John William Hopper

Age: 68

Sex: male

Date: 22 Jun 1953

Place: River Wear, Sunderland

John William Hopper was found dead in the River Wear on 22 June 1953.

He had lived in Sunderland and was last known to have been out drinking and on his way to a mental hospital where he was a voluntary patient.

The inquest heard that his death was due to drowning but that there was no evidence to show when, where or by what means he had met his death.

He was a retired shipyard timekeeper.

His son-in-law, who lived in Perth Road in Sunderland, said that up until about 1947 John Hopper had drunk heavily at certain periods. He said that when he went to work for a brewery in Sunderland that his habits became excessive and that he suffered from insomnia.

He said that he was prescribed sleeping tablets but that he took an overdose and was admitted to Cherry Knowle Mental Hospital as a voluntary patient. He said that when he asked John Hopper why he had taken the tablets he had said, 'They give me a pleasant sensation'.

John Hopper's son-in-law said that when John Hopper returned from the mental home after the overdose he started drinking heavily again and had to go back to the mental hospital as a voluntary patient.

He said that sometime later he was divorced on the grounds of mental cruelty.

John Hopper's son-in-law said that John Hopper would come to his home almost every weekend and that on recent visits he had appeared rather depressed about the failure of his home life.

He said that he met John Hopper on 8 June 1953 casually in Norfolk Street saying that he 'just appeared to be on the wander'. He said that after they went back to his home he gave John Hopper some money to go back to Cherry Knowle.

He said that he was later told that John Hopper had not arrived back and that although he had heard that he had visited some public houses a few days after he last saw him, he had been unable to trace him until his body was found in the river.

John Hopper's son-in-law said that John Hopper left no note or had ever suggested suicide. He said, 'He was a man of above average intelligence, and I do not think he would ever do such a thing'.

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

see www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk

see Sunderland Daily Echo and Shipping Gazette - Friday 03 July 1953