Date: 17 Aug 1958
Maria Eason was found dead on the floor beside her bed with a telephone wire round her neck.
However, it was said that she had not died from the pressure of the telephone flex wound around her neck but from an epileptic seizure and the Coroner recorded a verdict of 'Death from natural causes'.
She was described as a beautiful former fashion model and had been known to her friends in Chelsea as 'Happy Maria'. After being a model Maria Eason had been a saleswoman but for the previous two weeks before her death she had been doing domestic work.
The policeman that called at Maria Eason's flat in Woodfall Street late on the Sunday night, 10 August 1958, said that he found Maria Eason lying dead beside her bed with the torn flex from the telephone cable round her neck. He said that he found Maria Eason lying in a crouched position on her left side beside the bed by the window and noticed the telephone flex had been torn from the wall and seemed to be completely round her neck.
A Home Office pathologist said that when he examined Maria Eason's body she was on the floor with her head against the bedside table and that encircling her neck he found a cable that ran from the telephone junction box from which the lead had become detached. He added that the telephone had fallen to the floor.
However, the pathologist said that, to make it clear, he did not find any evidence of the cord encircling her neck very tightly and that he thought that it was more likely that some sort of seizure had taken place. The pathologist then carried out a reconstruction of the way that he thought that she might have fallen out of bed, entangled her head in the cord and come to lie in the position in which she was found. He said that he thought that it was likely that Maria Eason had had a seizure and had then fallen out of bed on to the floor and that her head had then got into the telephone wire.
He then added that that would have been entirely possible if she had had a fit or had been under the influence of drink or drugs. However, he added that there was no evidence to suggest that the latter causes were to blame and that he believed that Maria Eason had had a seizure of the epileptic type.
He said, 'I think death took place about midday on August 10. the constriction of the neck would have been much greater if she had been strangled, and I think she had a seizure following alcohol or drugs, or she might have had a fit. I did not find the conditions I would have expected if she had an overdose of drugs and I think she died in a state of epilepsy'.
He then gave her cause of death as status epilepticus, which he described as being quite a common cause of death.
Maria Eason's daughter, who lived in Beaufort Gardens in Kensington, said that Maria Eason had suffered from epilepsy for 20 years and that she had seen her become unconscious during some of these attacks.
She said, 'If she stayed up late or had been drinking she was more liable to fits. She was quite normal when I last saw her about 9.30pm on August 8'.
A man that had known Maria Eason as a casual friend for about two years said that on Saturday 9 August 1958 that he had gone with Maria Eason to Brighton by train, saying that they had had a few drinks there and then returned to Victoria about 11pm after which they got a taxi back to Maria Eason's flat. He said that when they got back that they sat and talked and played with the cat. He said that Maria Eason went to bed and that he left about midnight, closing the front door behind him. He added that when he had left her that Maria Eason seemed quite normal and had not had enough to drink to had affected her.
He said that then, the next day, 10 August 1958, at about 12.30pm that he went to the public house opposite Maria Eason's flat from where he noticed that a bottle of milk outside her front door but said that he did not think that that was unusual. However, he said that when he later returned to the public house at about 8.15pm that same day that he saw that the bottle of milk was still outside. He said that at about 10pm he met one of Maria Eason's neighbours and that they commented on the fact that the milk was still there and then shouted up to Maria Eason's flat and began knocking banging on her door but could get no answer and could not get the door open.
The man said that they continued like that for a while and that he then went round to the side of the building and that he found a short ladder in the yard that reached up to the first floor. He said that the neighbour then managed to climb through a window and then open the front door and said that they then called the police.
The neighbour, a television executive that had lived at 3 Woodfall Street said that after he met Maria Eason's friend outside Maria Eason's flat that he climbed in through the bathroom window. He said that when he first went through the flat that he could not find Maria Eason because it was dark. He said, 'Then I switched on a light and noticed the telephone flex was taut by the bed. I looked closer and saw Mrs Eason lying on the floor between the wall and the bed. The telephone was under the bed and the wire appeared to be round her neck. I tore the wire away from the wall to relieve the tension. There was no other disturbance in the room. I touched Mrs Eason to see whether she was alive and went down to the front door'.
Maria Eason's doctor, who lived in Fulham Road, said that he had known Maria Eason both personally and as a patient and that he had treated her for epilepsy between 1953 and 1955 but that he had not attended to her since then. He said that in 1953 Maria Eason had had epileptic fits about every three months, and then more frequently and said that she could be regarded as a fairly severe epileptic.
He noted that Maria Eason had previously told him that she had suffered a head injury as a result of a car accident when he was 25, but said that he could find no sign of that injury.
A scientific officer at the Metropolitan Police Laboratory said that he had received a sample of blood to examine for its alcoholic content and found that it contained the equivalent of 2¼ pints of beer or four single nips of spirits.
When the Coroner returned the verdict of death by natural causes he said that a very careful inquiry had been made in view of the circumstances in which Maria Eason's body had been found, but said that in view of the pathologist's evidence and the fact that Maria Eason was known to suffer from epilepsy, that it seemed quite clear that she had had an attack in falling out of bed and caught the telephone cord round her neck and concluded that her death was actually due to the attack.
He said, 'Late on the evening of August 10 she was found lying between her bed and the wall with the telephone cable twisted round her neck, but the post mortem examination revealed that this had nothing to do with the cause of death. It is quite clear Mrs Eason had one of her epileptic attacks, during which she fell out of bed and got the telephone cable round her neck in the process. But she actually died from an epileptic attack'.
Maria Eason's funeral was held at Putney Vale Crematorium on Monday 18 August 1958.
see Chelsea News and General Advertiser - Friday 22 August 1958
see Kensington Post - Friday 22 August 1958