Unsolved Murders


Age: 0

Sex: male

Date: 1 Dec 1956

Place: Esme Road, Sparkhill, Birmingham

The body of a newly-born child was found in a suitcase in a room after the occupant, a midwife, died.

It was said that the midwife had carried the case around with her for years. The body was wrapped up in newspaper dated 26 April 1950.

The body was found on 4 December 1956 in a suitcase behind a wardrobe in the midwifes room at her lodgings in Esme Road, Sparkhill after she died the previous month.

When the inquest was held on 4 January 1957, the Coroner said that he had 'very grave doubts' over whether the jury would get very far with the evidence.

The newspaper was a Manchester evening newspaper and it was determined that it had been circulated in the midwife's hometown of Warrington.

It was heard that the midwife had been a teaching midwife in Birmingham for about three years but that she had become ill in March 1956 and had later died in hospital on 16 November 1956.

Another midwife that had lived at the same address in Esme Road said that the midwife had at all times appeared to be on the alert for anyone entering her room and said that she was very independent and would not let anyone else help to clean her room.

However, she said that after the midwife died that she went into her room to clean an found the suitcase behind the wardrobe. She said that when she opened it she found another smaller suitcase inside which was locked, and that after she managed to open it she found the remains of the baby inside.

A friend of the midwife that knew her in 1950 said that she had seen her in February 1950 but that she didn't think that she was pregnant then. The Coroner noted that if the child had been born on the date given by the newspaper that the midwife would have been seven months pregnant at the time that her friend had seen her in February 1950.

However, another woman from Douglas in the Isle of Man said that when she saw the midwife in March 1950 that it was obvious that she was pregnant.

However, the midwife's father who lived in Lower Ash Lane, Warrington said that neither he nor any of the family had any idea that she might have been pregnant.

The pathologist that carried out the post mortem said that it was impossible to tell whether the child was male or female or whether it had been born dead or alive.

When the police gave evidence at the inquest they said that they had found a gap in the midwifes movements from March 1950 when she left a training hospital in the Isle of Man until she went home at the end of June 1950, adding that there was no evidence to establish her whereabouts during that time.

When the Coroner summed up, he said, 'You must come to this conclusion: that for six years this poor woman has been carrying this baby about with her. You might wonder, if it was somebody else's child, why she bothered to keep it with her. If it was her own child and she did not want to disclose her pregnancy she might have felt very reluctant to abandon it'.

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 Northern Whig - Saturday 05 January 1957

see Birmingham Daily Post - Saturday 05 January 1957