Unsolved Murders

John Wheatley

Age: 14

Sex: male

Date: 10 May 1961

Place: TP Riley School, Lichfield Road, Bloxwich, Staffordshire

John Wheatley died from a fractured skull that he was thought to have received whilst at school.

He had returned home from TP Riley School in Lichfield Road, Bloxwich on 10 May 1961 after which he was taken ill and died an hour later. He had lived in Goscote Lodge Crescent in Walsall.

It was noted that earlier in the day he had been fooling about in an English lesson and claimed that his English mistress had hit him on the head with a book. However, the 28-year-old teacher denied that she had hit him.

At the inquest five of his classmates said that they had seen their English mistress strike John Wheatley with the book. However, the Coroner said that whether or not the English mistress had hit John Wheatley was irrelevant as the children had claimed that she had struck John Wheatley on the right side whilst his skull fracture was on the left side.

Medical evidence showed that John Wheatley had had an abnormally thin skull.

A 14-year-old pupil that had been in the same class and who had lived in Clockmill Road, Pelsall near Walsall said, 'John was fooling about. He fell off his seat on to the floor but did not hit his head. The teacher told him that if he did not stop talking she would box his ears. I saw her hit John with the book. He ducked, but the book hit him'.

A 13-year old girl that had been in the same class and who had lived in Walker Road, Walsall said that after John Wheatley was hit with the book that he was quiet and had looked flushed.

The English mistress, who lived in Essington Vicarage near Wolverhampton, said that the lesson started rowdily and that everyone laughed when John Wheatley fell off his chair.

She said, 'I threatened him that I would give him something that hurt if he did not stop talking, but I am certain I did not hit him with a book'.

After hearing the evidence the Coroner told the jury that John Wheatley could have bumped his head on various occasions during the day but it was clear the fracture could not have been caused by the alleged blow'.

An open verdict was returned.

TP Riley School was later demolished in 2001 and replaced with the Walsall Academy.

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

see www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk

see Daily Mirror - Friday 19 May 1961

see Wikipedia