Unsolved Murders

Solomon Lever

Age: 64

Sex: male

Date: 19 Jul 1959

Place: Rangers Road, Epping Forest, Essex

Solomon Lever died after being kidnapped in a bogus police car and left in Epping Forest on 19 July 1959.

They had  called him at about 1.05am on 19 July 1959 to say that there was a fire next door to his office. His wife said, 'He told me the police were coming to collect him and at 1.20am the front door bell rang. There was one man there. At 2.20am I rang the office to find out how things were going, but there was no reply. I went to the office but found that there was no fire'. She said that she then returned home and called the police and went back to the office with them and discovered that the safe had been burgled.

Solomon Lever’s body, which was later found in Rangers Road, showed signs of him having been bound and gagged but his cause of death was given as being due to heart disease or coronary thrombosis.

His inquest returned a verdict of manslaughter against some person or persons unknown.

He had lived in Victoria Park Road in Hackney, London and was lured from his home in a bogus police car and less than an hour later he was seen trying to stop a passing motorist in Epping Forest.

Solomon Lever had been the secretary of a Jewish savings club in Sylvester Path for years and held the key to the safe. His wife said that a 'pay-out' had been made on 18 July 1959 of a holiday subscription which left about £8,000 that had been left in the safe at the office and which was later stolen in the robbery. The club had just paid out the majority of £20,000 or more in summer holiday loans on the Saturday with the balance being left in the safe for payment on the Sunday 19 July 1959.

The police released descriptions of two men that were thought to have picked Solomon Lever up as well as of the A40 van that they were said to have driven in.

A woman that had lived in Millsmead Way, Loughton in Essex said that she and her husband had been returning home by car through Epping Forest along Rangers Road at about 2.20am on 19 July 1959 when a man signalled for them to stop, however, she said that they didn't and drove on.

However, she said that when she later heard that a man's body had been found they contacted the police and when they were shown a photograph of Solomon Lever they recognised him as the man that had signalled them.

Solomon Lever's body was later discovered in Rangers Road by a designer at about 2.45am lying across the gutter after which he called the police.

When the police examined the scene they said that they found two pieces of surgical plaster about 50 yards from the body in the undergrowth on the edge of the forest. The head of Scotland Yard's forensic science laboratory said that when he examined the surgical plasters that it 'appeared to be strongly probable that they had been stuck over the dead man's face'.

During their investigation it was reported that the police were to ask thousands of factory workers, shop assistants and housewives, 'Did you notice any strangers hanging about Sylvester Path during the past fortnight or month?'.

It was reported that the robbers had taken great precautions against leaving fingerprints and that the police were certain that whoever planned the raid knew the district well.

During their investigation the police kept a close watch on London greyhound tracks in an effort to trace the stolen money.

On Tuesday 18 August 1959 it was reported that an anonymous caller had called the police to say that they had seen a man giving away £5 notes to passers-by on Southend Pier. It was noted that the police had been warned to be on the lookout for £5 notes that might have been part of the £8,000 robbery and that they went to the pier and questioned scores of people but found no trace of the man  but that they had concluded that the anonymous caller may have been a hoaxer. However, as a precaution they asked police in London to meet the Royal Sovereign when she returned to Tower Hill after a day trip to Southend and Margate in case the man had gone aboard that.

When the Coroner summed up he noted that as a result of an alteration of the law under the 1957 Act, what might have once been murder was turned into the possibility of manslaughter.  He said, 'You have to ask yourself, did a person or persons, while stealing money, subject Mr Lever to actual physical harm or threat of such harm thereby precipitating the heart attack which killed him?'.

Solomon Lever had been an ex-mayor of Hackney.

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

see www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk

see Aberdeen Evening Express - Tuesday 18 August 1959

see Coventry Evening Telegraph - Tuesday 18 August 1959

see Aberdeen Evening Express - Tuesday 21 July 1959

see Aberdeen Evening Express - Monday 20 July 1959

see Belfast Telegraph - Tuesday 18 August 1959