Unsolved Murders

Eileen Edith Lockhart

Age: 5

Sex: female

Date: 8 Feb 1948

Place: Friendly House, Chiswell Street, Finsbury, EC1

Eileen Edith Lockhart was found dead in the basement of a bombed out building on Chiswell Street in Finsbury three miles from her home on the night of 11 February 1948.

The pathologists report showed that she had been strangled. However, the pathologist noted that Eileen Lockhart had not been interfered with. He said that she had been dead for over 48 hours and had died from asphyxia caused by manual strangulation.

She was last seen at her home around dinner-time on Sunday 8 February 1948. It was noted that she was very fond of food, but that she had vanished from her home without eating her dinner. Her mother said that she had been playing in the street during the morning of the Sunday she disappeared, and that at dinner time she helped to prepare vegetables. She said that she was later seen on the wall and was called in for dinner to which she replied, 'All right mum', but she didn't go in and she didn't see her again.

She had lived in Wellington Way in Bow, London.

Eileen Lockhart's father said that he last saw Eileen Lockhart on the Sunday and later realised that she was missing.

Her body was found by a man that had gone into a bomb-damaged building called Friendly House in Chiswell Street, Finsbury. He said that he had been there before looking for lead and went into the basement and struck a match. He said, 'In the light of the match I saw the body of what appeared to be a young girl. I did not touch or move her at all'.

When the man was asked when he was last in the building by the coroner at the inquest on Friday 13 February 1948, the man replied, 'The week before last'. When the coroner asked the man what he did when he found her body, he said, 'I got very panicky at first, and then I ran upstairs and informed a police officer'.

A policeman that had been on duty nearby said that the man came up to him and said, 'I think there is the body of a little girl in a building up the road'. The policeman said that he took the man back to Friendly House in Chiswell Street where he then saw Eileen Lockhart's body. He said, 'We had to strike matches. It was very dark'.

The police said that they were trying to trace where Eileen Lockhart had been after she vanished from her home up until the time she was murdered. The police noted that 'There are people who saw her who have not yet come forward to say so'. They added that they had reason to believe that people must have seen Eileen Lockhart in or near Chiswell Street on the Sunday afternoon that had not come forward.

The police later drove around in cars and gave her description out over a loudspeaker and showed people photographs of her in a bid to trace anyone that had seen her.

Pictures of Eileen Lockhart and the clothes that she had been wearing were also shown at cinemas in Bow and Finsbury.

However, the police said that they thought that the person that had murdered Eileen Lockhart was known to her and had previously taken her out for meals. They said that they were looking into the possibility that Eileen Lockhart might have known someone that had taken a particular interest in her and had occasionally taken her out for 'treats' in cafes.

They said that they were certain that her killer had first taken her out to a cafe or restaurant somewhere between Bow and Friendly House where he had bought her something to eat after it was heard that her post-mortem revealed that she had had a meal of milk pudding sometime in the afternoon.

It was also said that she had been in the City on the Sunday afternoon and might have bought some sweets with the killer’s ration book.

A trolley bus driver said that he had no doubt that he had seen Eileen Lockhart with a man on the Sunday afternoon. He said that they had been standing on the pavement as if waiting for a bus and that Eileen Lockhart seemed 'quite content'. He said that the man was about 38 or 40 years old.

A divisional detective inspector at the inquest on Wednesday 14 April 1948 said, 'We have had 18 people come forward and allege they have seen her, but they are all mutually destructive'.

It was later reported that one woman had told the police that she had been standing in a queue and that another woman had told her that her husband had seen Eileen Lockhart being dragged along by a man in Finsbury and that she had looked to be in great distress. The police later drove the woman around the City in a car in the hope that she would recognise the woman again.

It was also reported that the police had looked for a man with 'Chinese eyes' after such a man was reported as being missing from his usual haunts, but he was later traced on Sunday 4 April 1948 and interviewed by the police at City Road police station. The police said that he was unable to provide any useful information and that they were satisfied that he could not help them.

On Saturday 14 February 1948 it was reported that a bus conductor said that he had seen Eileen Lockhart with an elderly man, aged about 60, riding his bus from Mile End Road to Aldgate on the Sunday afternoon. He said that the man had two protruding lumps on his jaw and Eileen Lockhart had looked very dirty. He said that when he had gone to collect the tickets on the upper deck, he had found the man sitting at the back of the girl in a front seat which he said made him suspicious because they had gone up together. He said that he went upstairs several times to make sure everything was all right.

The police appealed to cafe and restaurant owners in the Mile End and Bow Road areas who might have seen Eileen Lockhart with a 'working class man' in their establishments on the Sunday afternoon. They also appealed for bus drivers and other transport workers on routes between Bow Road and Finsbury who might have seen Eileen Lockhart with a male companion to come forward.

Three men confessed to her murder, but the inquest heard that they could not possibly have done it.

A verdict of wilful murder by some person or persons unknown was returned.

Following the inquest, it was disclosed that over 700 people had been seen and 200 statements taken.

It was noted that in April 1948, Eileen Lockhart's mother received a photograph taken in Tower Hamlets cemetery on 8 February 1948 which showed a little girl with a man in the background. However, the letter bore no address. Eileen Lockhart's mother appealed for the sender to come forward on Sunday 15 May 1948, but no one did. They also visited photographic developing and printing shops where the photograph might have been made but without success. Eileen Lockhart's mother received a further two letters, one a couple of days later and another on 22 May 1948. The letters bore 'London E1' postmarks. The woman had written that she had been visiting her mother's grave at the time, whilst she didn't give an address, she signed her letters 'R Neve'.

On Monday 26 April 1948 it was reported that the police had posted urgent handwritten notices in the booking hall of Barnehurst, Kent railway station that read, 'Will the person who wrote a letter to New Scotland Yard giving information about the murder of Eileen Lockhart please again communicate with the police, supplying name and address. Further information required in strict confidence'.

On 1 May 1948 it was reported that the police had examined the burial records of the 55-acre Tower Hamlets Cemetery in Bow in an effort to understand why her killer might have taken her there before murdering her.

It was noted that Eileen Lockhart's mother gave birth to her sixth child, a 7.5lb girl, on the night of Thursday 12 February 1948.

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

see discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk

see True Crime Library

see "News in Brief." Times [London, England] 12 Feb. 1948: 4. The Times Digital Archive. Web. 4 Mar. 2013.

see National Archives - MEPO 3/2997

see Criminal Calendar - Richard Harrison - 1951

see Daily Herald - Saturday 15 May 1948

see Birmingham Daily Gazette - Saturday 14 February 1948

see Daily Herald - Saturday 01 May 1948

see Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer - Thursday 12 February 1948

see Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer - Monday 05 April 1948

see Daily Herald - Monday 26 April 1948

see Torbay Express and South Devon Echo - Thursday 12 February 1948

see Torbay Express and South Devon Echo - Wednesday 14 April 1948

see Shields Daily News - Friday 13 February 1948

see Lincolnshire Echo - Friday 13 February 1948

see Gloucester Citizen - Wednesday 14 April 1948

see Daily Herald - Friday 13 February 1948

see Western Morning News - Thursday 15 April 1948

see Hull Daily Mail - Friday 13 February 1948