Hammersmith nude murders

The Hammersmith nude murders is the name of a series of six murders in West London, England, in 1964 and 1965.[1] The victims, all prostitutes, were found undressed in or near the River Thames, leading the press to nickname the killer Jack the Stripper (a reference to Jack the Ripper).[2][3] Two earlier murders, committed in West London in 1959 and 1963, have also been linked by some investigators to the same perpetrator.[3][4][5]

A Metropolitan Police identikit of a suspect, compiled from a description by an eyewitness following the murder of Frances Brown in 1964. The suspect has never been apprehended or identified.

Despite "intense media interest and one of the biggest manhunts in Scotland Yard's history" the case is unsolved.[3][6] Forensic evidence gathered at the time is believed to have been destroyed or lost.[7]

Victims edit

Elizabeth Figg edit

Elizabeth Figg
Born(1938-03-24)24 March 1938[8]
Died17 June 1959(1959-06-17) (aged 21)
London, England
Cause of deathAsphyxiation due to manual strangulation
Body discoveredDuke's Meadows, Chiswick
Other namesAnn Phillips[9]

Figg was found dead at 5:10 am on 17 June 1959 by police officers[10] on routine patrol in Duke's Meadows, Chiswick, on the north bank of the River Thames.[11][12] The park had a reputation as a lovers' lane, and prostitutes were known to take their clients there.[13]

Figg's body was found on scrubland between Dan Mason Drive and the river's towpath, approximately 200 yards (180 m) west of Barnes Bridge.[11] Her dress was torn at the waist and opened to reveal her breasts;[11][14] marks around the neck were consistent with strangulation.[11][15] Figg's underwear and shoes were missing, and no identification or personal possessions were found.[16] A pathologist concluded that death had occurred between midnight and 2:00 a.m. on 17 June.[11][17]

A post-mortem photograph of Figg's face distributed to the press was independently recognized by her roommate and her mother.[18][19][20]

Extensive searches of the area – including the river bed – failed to find Figg's underwear, black stiletto shoes, or white handbag.[16] A police official theorized that a client had murdered her in his car, after removing her shoes and underwear, and that these and her handbag had then remained in the car after the body was disposed of at Duke's Meadows.[16][21][22] The proprietor of a pub on the opposite side of the river to where Figg was found said that on the night of the murder he and his wife had seen a car's headlights as it parked in that area at 12:05 a.m. Shortly after the lights were switched off, they heard a woman's scream.[17]

Gwynneth Rees edit

Gwynneth Rees
Born(1941-08-06)6 August 1941[23]
Disappeared29 September 1963[24]
Died1963 (aged 22)
London, England
Cause of deathUnknown
Body discoveredTownmead Road, Mortlake
Other namesGeorgette Rees, Tina Smart, Tina Dawson

The body of Welsh-born Gwynneth Rees was found on 8 November 1963 at the Barnes Borough Council household refuse disposal site on Townmead Road, Mortlake.[25][26] The dump was situated 40 yards (37 m) from the Thames towpath, and approximately 1 mile (1.6 km) from Duke's Meadows.[26]

Rees was naked except for a single stocking on her right leg, extending no further up than the ankle.[27][28] She had been accidentally decapitated by a shovel which workmen had been using to level the refuse.[27]

Hannah Tailford edit

Hannah Tailford
Born(1933-08-19)19 August 1933[29]
DisappearedJanuary 1964
Died1964 (aged 30)
London, England
Cause of deathDrowning
Body discoveredUpper Mall, Hammersmith
Other namesHannah Lynch, Anne Tailer, Anne Taylor[30]

Tailford was found dead on 2 February 1964[31] on the Thames foreshore below Linden House – the clubhouse of the London Corinthian Sailing Club – west of Hammersmith Bridge.[29][32] She had been strangled, several of her teeth were missing,[10] and her underwear had been stuffed into her mouth.[31]

Irene Lockwood edit

Irene Charlotte Lockwood
Born(1938-09-29)29 September 1938[33]
Disappeared7 April 1964
Died1964 (aged 25)
London, England
Cause of deathDrowning
Body discoveredDuke's Meadow, Chiswick
Other namesSandra Russell, Sandra Lockwood

Lockwood was found dead on 8 April 1964 on the foreshore of the Thames[6] at Corney Reach, Chiswick, not far from where Tailford had been found. With the discovery of this third victim, police realized that a serial murderer was at large.[34][33][35] Lockwood was pregnant at the time of her death.[33]

Helen Barthelemy edit

Helen Catherine Barthelemy
Born(1941-06-09)9 June 1941[36]
Disappeared22 April 1964
Died1964 (aged 22)
London, England
Cause of deathAsphyxiation by strangulation
Body discoveredBoston Manor Road, Brentford

East Lothian-born Barthelemy was found dead on 24 April 1964[31] in an alleyway at the rear of 199 Boston Manor Road, Brentford.[37][38] Barthelemy's death gave investigators their first solid piece of evidence in the case: flecks of paint[31] used in car manufacturing. Police felt that the paint had probably come from the killer's workplace; they therefore focused on tracing it to a business nearby.[citation needed]

Mary Fleming edit

Mary Fleming
Born(1933-09-16)16 September 1933[39]
Clydebank, Scotland
Disappeared11 July 1964
Died1964 (aged 30)
London, England
Cause of deathAsphyxiation by strangulation
Body discoveredBerrymede Road, Chiswick

Scottish-born Fleming was found dead on 14 July 1964[31] outside 48 Berrymede Road, Chiswick.[40] Once again, paint spots were found on the body;[31] many neighbours had also heard a car reversing down the street just before the body was discovered.[10]

Frances Brown edit

Frances Brown
Born(1943-01-03)3 January 1943[41]
Glasgow, Scotland
Disappeared23 October 1964
Died1964 (aged 21)
London, England
Cause of deathAsphyxiation by strangulation
Body discoveredHornton Street, Kensington
Other namesMargaret McGowan, Frances Quinn, Anne Sutherland, Donna Sutherland, Susan Edwards, Nuala Rowlands

Brown, a native of Edinburgh, was last seen alive on 23 October 1964 by a colleague who saw her get into a client's car; on 25 November her body was found in a car park on Hornton Street, Kensington.[31] She had been strangled.[42] The colleague was able to provide police with an identikit picture and a description of the car, thought to be a grey Ford Zephyr.[43][31] Brown had testified as a witness for the defence, along with Christine Keeler and Mandy Rice-Davies, at the trial of Stephen Ward in July 1963.[44][45][46][31]

Bridget O'Hara edit

Bridget O'Hara
Born(1937-03-02)2 March 1937[47]
Disappeared11 January 1965
Died1965 (aged 27)
London, England
Cause of deathAsphyxiation[48]
Body discoveredHeron Trading Estate, Acton
Other namesBridie O'Hara, Bridget Moore[49][50]

Irish immigrant Bridget "Bridie" O'Hara was found dead on 16 February 1965 near a storage shed behind the Heron Trading Estate, Acton.[51][31] She had been missing since 11 January. Once again, O'Hara's body turned up flecks of industrial paint which were traced to an electrical transformer near where she was discovered. Her body also showed signs of having been stored in a warm environment.[52] The transformer was a good fit for both the paint and the heating.[53]

Investigation edit

Chief Superintendent John Du Rose of Scotland Yard, the detective put in charge of the case,[54][55] interviewed almost 7,000 suspects.[53]

In the spring of 1965, the investigation into the murders encountered a major breakthrough when a sample of paint which perfectly matched that recovered from several victims' bodies was found beneath a concealed transformer at the rear of a building on the Heron Factory Estate in Acton. This factory estate faced a paint spraying shop. Shortly thereafter, Du Rose held a news conference in which he falsely announced that the police had narrowed the suspect pool down to 20 men and that, by a process of elimination, these suspects were being eliminated from the investigation. After a short time, he announced that the suspect pool contained only 10 members, and then three.[56] There were no further known Stripper killings following the initial news conference.[54]

According to the writer Anthony Summers, Hannah Tailford and Frances Brown, the Stripper's third and seventh victims, were peripherally connected to the 1963 Profumo affair. Some victims were also known to engage in the underground party scene in addition to appearing in pornographic movies. Several writers have postulated that the victims may have known each other, and that the killer may have been connected to this scene as well.[57]

Suspects edit

Kenneth Archibald edit

On 27 April 1964, Kenneth Archibald, a 57-year-old caretaker at the Holland Park Lawn Tennis Club, walked into Notting Hill police station and voluntarily confessed to the killing of Irene Lockwood.[58][10] Archibald was charged with the murder and stood trial at the Old Bailey in June 1964. When asked to plead, he retracted his confession and pleaded not guilty. There was no other evidence to link him to the crime and on 23 June 1964, he was found not guilty by a jury and acquitted by the judge, Mr Justice Neild.[59][60]

Mungo Ireland edit

For Du Rose, the most likely suspect was a Scottish security guard called Mungo Ireland, whom Du Rose first identified in a BBC television interview in 1970 as a respectable married man in his forties whom he codenamed "Big John".[61] Ireland had apparently been identified as a suspect shortly after Bridget O'Hara's murder, when flecks of industrial paint were traced to the Heron Trading Estate, where he had worked as a security guard.[6]

Shortly after this connection was made, Ireland committed suicide[6] by carbon monoxide poisoning, leaving a note for his wife that read: "I can't stick it any longer", and finished, "To save you and the police looking for me I'll be in the garage". Whilst seen by many as a strong suspect in the killings, recent research suggests that Ireland was in Scotland when O'Hara was murdered, and therefore could not have been the Stripper.[62] Crime author Neil Milkins said the killings stopped after Ireland's death and the police task force set up to catch the killer was reduced and finally disbanded. Milkins, who wrote the book Who Was Jack the Stripper?, was an investigative consultant for the BBC documentary Dark Son: The Hunt for a Serial Killer. "On the morning that Ireland’s body was found, he had been due to appear before Acton Magistrates Court to face a charge of failing to stop his car after being involved in a road traffic accident," said Milkins. "Did Ireland commit suicide to save facing Acton magistrates over a trifling motoring charge or did John Du Rose push him over the edge with his press statements?" The Scotland Yard Serious Crime Review Group re-investigated the Hammersmith murders between 2006 and 2007 and this resulted in a new conclusion. A statement read: "The circumstantial evidence against Mungo Ireland is very strong and it was the view of the officers conducting the most recent review of this case that he was most likely to be responsible." Although Ireland's work records indicated he was in Scotland on the night of O’Hara's disappearance, Scotland Yard believe it is possible that these may have been falsified.[63]

Freddie Mills edit

In 2001, reformed gangster Jimmy Tippett Jr. claimed that, during research for his book about London's gangland, he had uncovered information suggesting that British light heavyweight boxing champion Freddie Mills was responsible for the murders.[64] According to Tippett, Kray-era gangsters, including Charlie Richardson and Frankie Fraser, had long suspected Mills of being the murderer.[65]

Mills had previously been linked with the murders by Peter Neale, a freelance journalist from Balham, south London, who told police in July 1972 that he had received information, in confidence, from a serving chief inspector that Mills "killed the nude prostitutes". He also said that this was "common knowledge in the West End. Many people would say, 'Oh, Freddie did them in...'"[66]

Mills was found shot dead in his car,[6] apparently by suicide, in July 1965.[67]

The suggestion that Mills was the Hammersmith nudes murderer originated with gangster Frankie Fraser, who told it to policeman Bob Berry, who told The Sun crime reporter Michael Litchfield.[68] Fraser claimed that the story was confessed by Mills, to Scotland Yard Chief Superintendent John Du Rose, and told by Du Rose to him; but when Du Rose published his autobiography which touched on the 'Hammersmith Nude Murders', there was no mention of Freddie Mills with regard to this case. The claims have since been dismissed. Peter McInnes put the allegations to the investigating officer, who stated that Mills had never been a suspect during the investigation.[69]

Metropolitan Police officer edit

David Seabrook, in his book Jack of Jumps (2006), wrote that a former Metropolitan Police detective was a suspect in the opinion of several senior detectives investigating the case. Owen Summers, a journalist for The Sun newspaper, had previously raised suspicion about the unnamed officer's involvement in a series of articles published by the newspaper in 1972, and Daily Mirror journalist Brian McConnell followed a similar line of inquiry in his book Found Naked and Dead in 1974.[citation needed] He was also considered by Dick Kirby, a former Metropolitan Police detective, in his book Laid Bare: The Nude Murders and the Hunt for 'Jack the Stripper' (2016), in which Kirby referred to him only as "the Cop".[citation needed]

Tommy Butler edit

In their book The Survivor (2002), Jimmy Evans and Martin Short allege the culprit was Superintendent Tommy Butler of the Metropolitan Police's Flying Squad.[citation needed] Butler died in 1970.[citation needed]

Harold Jones edit

The Crime & Investigation channel's Fred Dinenage: Murder Casebook put forward the theory in 2011 that the killer could have been Harold Jones, a convicted murderer from Wales. Jones killed two girls in 1921 in his home town of Abertillery. Because he was 15 at the time, he was not liable for the death penalty and instead received a life sentence.[citation needed] He was released from Wandsworth prison in 1941, at the age of 35, for exemplary behaviour. He is believed to have then returned to Abertillery, and visited the graves of his victims.[citation needed] By 1947, Jones was living in Fulham, London. All the Stripper murders had similar features to his early murders, with no sexual assault, but extreme violence inflicted on the victims. Due to poor record-keeping, he was never considered as a possible suspect by the police.[citation needed] Jones died in Hammersmith in 1971.[65]

The Welsh writer Neil Milkins, in Who Was Jack the Stripper? (2011), also concluded that Jones was the perpetrator.[6] While researching Jones for his book Every Mother's Nightmare,[6] Milkins had traced the murderer's movements: "[H]e turned up in Fulham in the late 1940s calling himself Harry Stevens, and stayed at that address in Hestercombe Avenue until 1962, at which point he disappeared again. I came across the Jack the Stripper case on the internet and realised that in the same three years Jones' whereabouts remained unknown – 1962 to 1965 – a number of prostitutes had been murdered in the same west London area."[65]

In January 2019 the possible involvement of Jones was re-examined in the 90-minute documentary Dark Son: The Hunt for a Serial Killer broadcast on BBC Two. Criminologist Professor David Wilson and an investigative team, including former detective Jackie Malton and forensic psychologist Professor Mike Berry, use contemporary policing techniques such as geographic profiling and offender profiling to see if the crimes of Jones the boy can be measured against those of the London killer. There are many similarities.[70]

In the media edit

The murders have been the subject of several television documentaries:

In fiction edit

The crime novel Goodbye Piccadilly, Farewell Leicester Square (1969), written by Arthur La Bern, is loosely based on the case. The book was adapted for the Alfred Hitchcock movie Frenzy (1972).[74] The case also inspired The Fiend (1972), in which a misogynistic serial killer leaves his naked victims across London.[74]

The crime novel Bad Penny Blues (2009) by Cathi Unsworth is closely based on the case.[75]

See also edit

References edit


  1. ^ Gates, James (12 March 2012). "Retro: The mystery of the Jack the Stripper murders". Get West London. Retrieved 4 January 2017.
  2. ^ Sanderson, Mark (17 September 2006). "Crime: Mark Sanderson on the seductively seamy side of 1960S london". The Sunday Telegraph. London. Retrieved 4 January 2017 – via InfoTrac.
  3. ^ a b c Stewart, Graham (16 December 2006). "A gruesome echo of the Suffolk horror". The Times. No. 68885. London. p. 19.
  4. ^ Newton 2006, p. 135.
  5. ^ Moore 2013, p. 105.
  6. ^ a b c d e f g "Author 'solves' Hammersmith Nudes murder riddle". Get West London. 10 November 2010. Retrieved 6 April 2018.
  7. ^ Ford, Richard (11 February 2019). "New clue to identity of killer known as Jack the Stripper". The Times. Scientific evidence from the murders has either been lost or destroyed.
  8. ^ Seabrook 2007, p. 8.
  9. ^ Seabrook 2007, p. 13.
  10. ^ a b c d Hewitt, Les (7 May 2015). "Jack the Stripper". Historic Mysteries. Retrieved 6 April 2018.
  11. ^ a b c d e Seabrook 2007, p. 4.
  12. ^ "Murdered Woman Identified". The Times. No. 54491. London. 19 June 1959. p. 12.
  13. ^ Seabrook 2007, p. 3.
  14. ^ "Woman Found Dead Near Towpath". The Times. No. 54490. London. 18 June 1959. p. 10.
  15. ^ McConnell 1975, p. 35.
  16. ^ a b c Seabrook 2007, p. 26.
  17. ^ a b McConnell 1975, p. 36.
  18. ^ Seabrook 2007, p. 7.
  19. ^ Seabrook 2007, p. 18.
  20. ^ "Murdered Girl: Yard Issue Picture". The Star. London. 18 June 1959. p. 1.
  21. ^ McConnell 1975, p. 43.
  22. ^ "Murder Verdict". The Times. No. 54539. London. 14 August 1959. p. 6.
  23. ^ Seabrook 2007, p. 38.
  24. ^ Seabrook 2007, p. 63.
  25. ^ "Girl's Body On Dump Identified". The Times. No. 55869. London. 27 November 1963. p. 8.
  26. ^ a b Seabrook 2007, p. 35.
  27. ^ a b Seabrook 2007, p. 36.
  28. ^ McConnell 1975, p. 45.
  29. ^ a b Seabrook 2007, p. 94.
  30. ^ McConnell 1975, p. 84.
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  33. ^ a b c Seabrook 2007, p. 129.
  34. ^ Seabrook 2007, p. 136.
  35. ^ "Police Believe Nude Was Murdered". The Times. No. 55982. London. 10 April 1964. p. 15.
  36. ^ Seabrook 2007, p. 185.
  37. ^ Kirby 2016.
  38. ^ "Naked Woman Dead In Alley". The Times. No. 55995. London. 25 April 1964. p. 8.
  39. ^ Seabrook 2007, p. 199.
  40. ^ Seabrook 2007, p. 204.
  41. ^ Seabrook 2007, p. 219.
  42. ^ "No Real Suspect In Nude Death". The Times. No. 56255. London. 25 February 1965. p. 6.
  43. ^ Seabrook 2007, p. 241.
  44. ^ Seabrook 2007, p. 218.
  45. ^ Thompson 2012.
  46. ^ "Nude Victim Was Ward Trial Witness". The Times. No. 56180. London. 27 November 1964. p. 6.
  47. ^ Seabrook 2007, p. 297.
  48. ^ Seabrook 2007, p. 305.
  49. ^ Moore 2013.
  50. ^ "circa 1965, Bridget "Bridie" Moore who had been found murdered,..." Getty Images. Retrieved 28 March 2021.
  51. ^ Seabrook 2007, p. 296.
  52. ^ Murder Casebook 1990, p. 1183
  53. ^ a b Murder Casebook 1990, p. 1186
  54. ^ a b Russell, Steve (27 September 2016). "Can we finally unmask serial killer 'Jack'?". East Anglian Daily Times. Retrieved 6 April 2018.
  55. ^ Russell, Steve (27 September 2016). "Can we finally unmask serial killer 'Jack'?". East Anglian Daily Times. Retrieved 6 April 2018.
  56. ^ Murder Casebook 1990, pp. 1183–1184
  57. ^ "The serial killer that visited Chiswick". Chiswick Herald. 16 October 2015. Retrieved 30 June 2017.
  58. ^ "Caretaker Remanded On Murder Charge". The Times. No. 56001. London. 2 May 1964. p. 6.
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  61. ^ "Nudes case man dead". The Times. No. 57834. London. 3 April 1970. p. 4.
  62. ^ Sharp, Johnny (2007). "Jack the Stripper: "He framed a dead man"". truTV. Archived from the original on 1 June 2008. Retrieved 3 January 2017.
  63. ^ "Real Line of Duty: Was a Dundee man framed for Jack the Stripper murders?". theCourier.co.uk. 21 May 2021. Retrieved 26 August 2021.
  64. ^ Thompson, Tony (4 November 2001). "Boxing hero Freddie Mills 'murdered eight women'". The Observer. London. Retrieved 3 January 2017.
  65. ^ a b c Bevan, Nathan (10 August 2008). "Is Valleys Murderer Jack the Stripper? Welsh Author Finds Link with Grisly Hammersmith Deaths". Wales On Sunday. Cardiff. Archived from the original on 29 August 2017. Retrieved 4 January 2017.
  66. ^ Seabrook 2007, p. 289.
  67. ^ Thompson, Tony (11 July 2004). "How boxing champion was driven to suicide by threat from Krays". The Observer. London. Retrieved 4 January 2017.
  68. ^ Litchfield & Oldfield 2017
  69. ^ McInnes 1995
  70. ^ "BBC Two - Dark Son: The Hunt for a Serial Killer".
  71. ^ "TCB Media Rights". www.tcbmediarights.com. Retrieved 26 September 2018.
  72. ^ "Final day shooting on Dark Son – Robin Jarossi". Robin Jarossi. 2 September 2018. Archived from the original on 27 September 2018. Retrieved 26 September 2018.
  73. ^ "Dark Son: The Hunt for a Serial Killer'". BBC2. Retrieved 20 July 2019.
  74. ^ a b Cooper 2016, p. 132.
  75. ^ "Cathi Unsworth's Notting Hill blues". Metro. London. 3 December 2009. Retrieved 3 January 2017.


External links edit