Unsolved Murders

May Elizabeth Holder

Age: 52

Sex: female

Date: 1 May 1958

Place: River Wye, Bartonsham, Hereford, Herefordshire

May Elizabeth Holder was found dead in the River Wye on 1 May 1958.

She had been a teacher in Bodenham, Hereford.

She was seen by a labourer that was walking along the bank of the River Wye near Bartonsham standing on a beach near to where the cows drank in the river. She was described as being well-dressed and the man said that he thought that it was odd but continued walking. However, he said that when he returned about 45 minutes later that he saw her lying on her face in the river.

Her cause of death was given as drowning.

The doctor that carried out the post mortem on 2 May 1958 said that he found May Holder to be a very healthy woman and gave her cause of death as being asphyxia due to drowning.

An open verdict was returned at her inquest which was held in Hereford on Tuesday 6 May 1958. The City Coroner said that there was nothing to guide him to a verdict. He said that they knew the cause of death but said that there was no evidence to say how May Holder drowned. He said that it could have been an accident but that there was nothing to show that, whilst at the same time there was nothing to show that she had taken her own life.

He said, 'It is peculiar that if she intended to take her own life she should choose a part of the river where at its deepest it is only nine inches'.

The labourer that found her, who had lived in St Nicholas Street in Hereford, said that he had been walking along the river towards Bartinsham at about 9pm on 1 May 1958 when as he neared the farm buildings he saw May Holder. He said that he passed on a short distance and then suddenly thought that it was peculiar that she should be there and went back. However, he said that as he watched her she appeared to object and so he continued walking.

However, he said that about 45 minutes later he saw her lying face downwards in the river and then called to a farm worker to fetch the police.

May Holder had been a schoolteacher and had lived in Berrington, Bodenham.

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

see www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk

see Kington Times - Friday 09 May 1958, p8

see Birmingham Daily Post - Monday 05 May 1958