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This is a photo of 24 Sydney Road in Teddington, which was the former home of Alfred Charles Whiteway, and just three doors down, nine years earlier, the Songhurst family lived.
EPISODE ONE HUNDRED AND NINE:
Across May & June 1953, a violent serial rapist who would attack lone women in isolated spots in and around Teddington, and yet, going against his own method, that same man would rape and murder two young girls at the same time. But why?
As many photos of the case are copyright protected by greedy news organisations, to view them, take a peek at my entirely legal social media accounts - Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.
The location of Sandy Lane where Alfed Whiteway was initially picked-up by the Police and questioned over the murders of Barbara Songhurst and Christine Reed is located where the black triangle is, on the far left of the screen. To use the map, click it. If you want to see the other murder maps, such as Soho, King's Cross, etc, access them by clicking here.
Here's two videos to go with this week's episode; on the left is the "grassy-slope" at Teddington Lock where the bodies of Barbara Songhurst and Christine Reed were disposed of in the river, and on the right is Alfred Whiteway's former home at 24 Sydney Road in Teddington. These videos are a link to youtube, so it won't eat up your data.
I've also posted some photos to aid your "enjoyment" of the episode. These photos were taken by myself (copyright Murder Mile) or granted under Government License 3.0, where applicable.
Photos left to right (top row): Alfred Whiteway, Alfred with Nelloe and Christina, a photo of Nellie with her two children (the second was born after Alfred was arrested) and Sydney Road today. On the bottom row: 11 Lower King's Road in Kingston (where Nellie's lived with her mum), 24 Sydney Road where Alfred lived, the alley behind 11 Lower King's Road where Alfred first spoke to Nellie (and often had sex) and Canbury Gardens where they last chatted before the murders.
Credits: The Murder Mile UK True-Crime Podcast was researched, written and recorded by Michael J Buchanan-Dunne, with the sounds recorded on location (where possible), and the music written and performed by Erik Stein & Jon Boux of Cult With No Name. Additional music was written and performed as used under the Creative Common Agreement 4.0.
This case was researched using the original declassified polcie investigation files held at the National Archives, as well as many other sources.
UNEDITED TRANSCRIPT OF THE EPISODE:
SCRIPT: Welcome to Murder Mile; a true-crime podcast and audio guided walk featuring many of London’s untold, unsolved and long-forgotten murders, all set within and beyond the West End.
Today’s episode is about the hunt for the Thames Towpath Murderer; a violent serial rapist who attacked lone women in isolated spots in and around Teddington, and yet, going against his own method, he would rape and murder two young girls at the same time. But why?
Murder Mile is researched using the original police files. It contains moments of satire, shock and grisly details. And as a dramatization of the real events, it may also feature loud and realistic sounds, so that no matter where you listen to this podcast, you’ll feel like you’re actually there.
My name is Michael, I am your tour-guide and this is Murder Mile.
Episode 109: The Thames Towpath Murders – Part Three: The Suspect.
Today I’m standing on Sandy Lane in Surrey; fifteen miles south-east of the rape of Patricia Birch in Windsor Great Park, eight miles south of the double murder of Barbara Songhurst & Christine Reed at Teddington Lock, one road north of the rape of 14-year-old Kathleen Ringham on Oxshott Heath, and just a few feet from the spot where Police would pick-up a possible suspect for all three attacks.
Sandy Lane isn’t famous, vital or even a place of historical importance to the tourists or locals alike. In truth, it’s little more than a two-laned tree-lined country road with no footpath connecting the A244 on the north-east corner of Oxshott Heath to another insignificant little spot called Miles Lane.
Being posh, secluded and selective about who they let live here, Sandy Lane is encircled by country houses, golf courses and a tennis club, but strictly no shops; as shops mean visitors, visitors mean riff-raff, and riff-raff means an infestation of poor people all dressed in track-suits who take selfies outside of a brick-built tax-dodge and wolf down fistfuls of McFood into the McMouth of their McBastard.
In fact, except for a few furious curtain-twitchers yelling at any passers-by to “get back to your council tenement”, the only other people you’ll see here are walkers dressed in mountain gear to dawdle on the heath, builder’s dumping the debris they can’t be bothered to take to a tip, doggers doing ‘blowie Morse code’ with their headlights, and occasionally a stockbroker dumping the body of a golf rival.
There’s not much to see or do and very few reasons to be here. There’s the heath, a small train station and a single road in the middle of the woods. It’s so remote you can only get here by train, car or bike. But why would you want to, unless you were fleeing a rape scene and seeking another victim?
As it was here, on Wednesday 17th June 1953, at roughly 6:30pm, that a very plausible suspect for all three attacks was caught, and yet the Police (almost) let him slip through their fingers. (Interstitial)
(Police) “28th June 1953, 4:30pm, statement by Alfred Charles Whiteway”.
(Alfred) “Three weeks ago, I went for a ride on my cycle to see a friend in Englefield Green. I couldn’t see her, so I went to Windsor Great Park. As I was cycling along one of the footpaths, I saw a woman coming towards me, she smiled, said “good morning” and for some reason, I turned and followed her. I grabbed hold of her. I asked her to go in the bushes with me but she refused and struggled to get away. She talked me out of it and offered me about 17 shillings. I jumped on my cycle and rode away”.
In his statement, Alfred conveniently forgot a few key details; like how he perched his blue bike by the park gate so he could seek-out lone females, why his saddlebag contained a seven-inch sheath knife and a foot-and-a-half long axe, how he stalked her up an isolated path, dazed her with the axe’s blunt curved butt, dragged her into a dense thicket, strangled her, raped her, stole her money and fled. It was a brazen attack in broad daylight, but to him, she was just a stranger who meant nothing, but sex.
Patricia Birch gave the Police a detailed description of the attacker; “young, dark-haired, spotty with a cleft chin, rode a blue bike with white mudguards and a black saddlebag, he was scruffy-looking like he’d come off a building site and wore a crumpled blue-shirt, green gaberdine trousers, brown leather gloves and brown crepe-soled shoes” which matched a photofit of the Thames Towpath Murderer.
By then, Alfred had fled… but having already raped once that day, and with his insatiable sexual lust clouding his every thought, he cycled a further fifteen miles south-east to Oxshott Heath to rape again.
Spotted by two builders (“you know what, that looks a lot like Alf”), the Police were called, the suspect was identified and at 6:30pm Constables Oliver & Howard spotted the young man walking down Sandy Lane; a dark and isolated country road, lined with a dense thicket of trees, and no-one else in sight.
(PC) “What’s your name son?”, (Alfred) “Alfred Whiteway”, which was true. (PC) “Address?”, (Alfred) “24 Sydney Road in Teddington”, which was true. (PC) “Empty your pockets”, which he did, but they only found ten shillings and two bike clips. (PC) “So where’s your bike?”, (Alfred) “I left it at home”, which was a lie as he’d stashed it in the bushes with his saddlebag. (PC) “You got a bag?”, (Alfred) “Nah, just what I got”. Had the officers searched him then, instead of later at the Police station, down his left leg they would have spotted a twenty-inch axe, still flecked with the blood of four women and with one more victim to add, as he lay-in-wait on Sandy Lane for another lone female. But they didn’t.
Driven in the Police’s black Wolseley Saloon, Alfred was calm, pleasant and feigned a genuine interest in cars, as with the axe in his hand, he leaned forward to get a better look at the speedometer, (Alfred) “and as I was chatting to the copper, watching him in the mirror, I pushed it under the driver’s seat”.
At roughly 7pm, at Kingston Police Station, Detective Inspector Brammell dismissed the spotty youth as a viable suspect and Alfred Charles Whiteway – the Thames Towpath Murderer – walked free.
So, how did such a violent and dangerous predator slip under the Police radar?
Alfred Charles Whiteway was born in Teddington on 21st June 1931. As the middle-child of eight - with two older brothers, three older sisters and two younger sisters, with one sister mentally disabled, one brother crippled by shell-shock, their father unable to work as a labourer owing to terminal cancer and their frazzled mother ran ragged by too many chores and so little money - being crammed into three small rooms in a tiny council flat on a scruffy dead-end at 24 Sydney Road, Alfred slept on the kitchen floor which he shared with Uncle Charles. Life was chaotic, impoverished and undisciplined.
Educated at the nearby Stanley Road School, Alfred known as ‘Alf’ was described as a bully with an above average intelligence, who found it difficult to focus on anything but money, knives and girls.
As a scrawny jug-eared youth with a spotty face and a cleft-chin, Alfred wasn’t a hit with the girls. Even as he lifted weights to become a lean yet powerfully built teen, being burdened by a bad attitude and a habit of forcing himself on a female which he called “seducing”, he lost his virginity early and never lost his appetite for sex. (Alfred) “I’d go any distance to get a bit from a girl who hadn’t had it before”.
Alfred believed that rather than earning it, he had the right to take whatever he desired. On 4th June 1943, he was fined £5 and bound-over for stealing torches from a house - he was 11 years old. Three months later, aged 12, he stole a ladies’ purse, but was too young to be effectively punished.
Quitting school, he struggled to stay employed as an errand-boy, a paint-sprayer and a coal-loader for more than a few months. And charged with stealing a bicycle, aged 15, Alfred was sent to the Cotswold Approved School; a borstal for young boys with emotional and behavioural problems. Described as “angry and difficult”, Alfred was rude, unruly and violent, he was obsessed with knives, fixated by sex, cruel to animals and was sexually aggressive towards the female teachers. On 22nd July 1948, having absconded from the school for a third time, aged 17 (and therefore an adult), being found guilty of the theft of a pair of gloves, Alfred was dismissed from borstal and sentenced to one year in prison.
Discharged on 23rd March 1949, Alfred was given a chance to go straight or risk a lifetime inside. Having dreamed of earning an honest wage, learning a skill and seeing the world, like many of his pals who had enlisted, Alfred applied for National Service. He was young, strong and physically fit, but being so short-sighted he could barely read, let alone spot a relative from across the street, having flatly refused to wear glasses, he was declared unfit to serve and returned home with his pride severely dented.
For the next three years, he drifted between temporary jobs whether by unloading vans, building walls or chopping down trees, and his love life was no better. Being single, it still stung that his ex-girlfriend (June Knight) had married Danny Songhurst; the eldest son of Gertrude & Daniel and the brother of their middle-child Barbara, who (until a few years earlier) had lived on Sydney Road, just three doors down from Alfred Whiteway. But his luck would soon change when he met and fell in love with Nellie.
In April 1951, 16-year-old Nellie May Jones and her friend Dianne Isaacs went to Bushy Park; a Royal Park over the river which borders Teddington, Hampton Hill and the Thames towpath. Covering 1100 acres of rutting deer, paddling ponds, dense woods and meandering paths, it’s a popular place where kids feel safe and was large enough to still feel peaceful as the two young girls played on the swings.
Being perched on his blue bike, 20-year-old Alfred spied-on the two girls as they paddled in the pond. Only he didn’t speak to them, he didn’t approach them, instead he just watched, waited and (hours later) he followed them through the park, over the river and up the towpath, a full mile to their homes.
By 10pm, unnerved by the stranger pushing his bike slowly behind them, as the girls snuck up a dark unlit alley at the back of their homes on the Lower King’s Road, as Dianne darted into number 13, it was only when Nellie was by herself, with her exit blocked by a dead-end, that Alfred made his move.
(Alfred) “It’s okay, don’t be afraid, I just wanted to talk to you”. And although an odd approach, having found him to be shy, charming and a little bit dishy; they talked for ten minutes, he asked her out on a date, their relationship blossomed and four months later he asked her to marry him.
It was a whirlwind romance for the two young lovers… but it wouldn’t be easy.
Aged just 16 and too young to legally wed, Nellie’s recently-widowed mother had refused to give them her blessing, and for good reason – Alfred was unemployed, impolite and a convicted thief - she didn’t like him, she didn’t trust him and she didn’t let him into their house at 11 Lower King’s Road.
So, in a pique of teenage petulance - with their intimate relations limited to a few fumblings in Bushy Park, some sticky trysts on the towpath, or (rebelliously) sex up the alley behind her mother’s house - to force her hand, Nellie & Alfred got pregnant. On 27th February 1952, they married and on 20th May baby Christina was born, only as (Nellie’s mother had warned her) Alfred wasn’t there to provide for his wife and child, as at the time of the birth, he was serving six months in prison for theft and burglary.
Upon his release, unable to afford a home, the couple lived apart. Feeling disconnected, their fights grew more frequent. Spending more time alone, instead of working every hour to feed his family, he would bunk-off to Old Ham Lock to practice throwing his knife and axe at a tree. And with one baby born and a second due in two months, his insatiable demands for sex was proving harder to assuage.
Alfred Charles Whiteway wasn’t a crazed homicidal maniac with a string of assaults, rapes and murders in his wake. At worst, he was little more than a trouble youth, a bad parent and a very selfish boy, who (like many young men) had a odd fixation with knives and sex, but he wasn’t a killer…
…and yet, just one week later, on the Thames towpath, two young girls would be raped and murdered.
His first known attack was on Sunday 24th May 1953; nine days before the Queen’s Coronation, three weeks before the rape of Patricia Birch, and one week before the double murder of two best-friends. But there would be enough similarity to suggest a link for Detective Superintendent Herbert Hannan.
At 10:30am, 14-year-old Kathleen Ringham went for a walk with her dog on Oxshott Heath. She would state “I saw a man on a blue bike with a blue shirt go by. As I got to an isolated path, I heard a bicycle behind me. I felt a blow on the back of my head, I was dazed and dragged into the bushes. He said it would be alright and that he was going to do me. I struggled to fight him off. He pulled up my blouse and pulled off my shorts, and then before he put his person inside me, he asked me how old I was, I said I was fourteen. I did not scream as it was a lonely spot and I was worried he would put his hands around my throat again. After he got off, I tried to get up but I felt dizzy and my head was hurting”.
With a pain in her head and blood in her eyes, Kathleen gave a vivid description of her attacker, whose spotty face, blue bike, brown gloves, black saddlebag, crepe-soled shoes and twenty-inch long yellow and black axe would later prove a positive match to the attack – one month later - on Patricia Birch.
Evidence was slim, no name was given and Police knew of no-known suspect who matched this very unique attacker, so ultimately the investigation stalled. And although Detective Inspector Brammell had mistakenly released a credible suspect who had no prior convictions for rape or assault, detectives had already began questioning Alfred Charles Whiteway in connection with the rapes of Kathleen Ringham, Patricia Birch and the double rapes and murders of Barbara Songhurst and Christine Reed.
But by then, one very crucial piece of evidence had gone missing.
(Police) “28th June 1953, 4:30pm, statement by Alfred Charles Whiteway”.
(Alfred) “Three weeks ago, I went for a ride on my cycle to see a friend in Englefield Green. I couldn’t see her, so I went to Windsor Great Park. As I was cycling along one of the footpaths, I saw a woman coming towards me, for some reason, I followed her, I grabbed hold of her. I asked her to go in the bushes with me but she refused. She talked me out of it, offered me 17 shillings and I rode away”.
Although deliberately misleading, in that statement Alfred admitted to the minor offence of robbery, and not rape, but having been positively identified by Kathleen and Patricia, the Police had enough evidence to detain and question him, whilst all three cases were investigated.
(Police) “29th June 1953, I am Detective Constable Virgo of Richmond CID. On the night of Sunday 31st May, two girls were murdered on the Teddington Lock towpath. Where were you at the time?”.
In a statement backed-up by his wife, Alfred denied any connection to the murders. At that time “I was with my wife and child in Canbury Gardens until gone 11:30pm”, one mile south of the crime-scene. “I didn’t go near Teddington Lock. I rarely do. I cycle home by Kingston Bridge”, a longer route which avoids the towpath, and “I didn’t stop, I went straight home and got in about five to twelve, as seen by my Uncle Charles”. And although he admitted he knew Barbara, “they lived in our road years ago, Barbara was about six, but I haven’t seen her since and I don’t know Christine”, which was true.
With no axe, knife or witnesses, Alfred knew the murders couldn’t be pinned on him. But then again, he hadn’t met Detective Superintendent Herbert Hannan; a highly-experienced Police interrogator and investigator who was smart, cunning and (worst of all) devious.
(Hannan) “1st July 1953, 12:10pm. I am Detective Superintendent Hannan enquiring into the murders of Barbara Songhurst and Christine Reed, I want to ask you a few questions”, but Alfred wasn’t playing ball “Nah, I’m keeping my mouth shut otherwise you’ll bloody pin it on me. I had nothing to do with them girls. You know I’d go any distance to get a bit from a girl who hadn’t had it before, but I’d never go that far”. But Hannan knew he had, he just needed to prove it, but this was proving fruitless.
Having taken blood and saliva samples, although a search of Alfred’s home uncovered the blue bike, the brown gloves, the crepe-soled shoes and the black saddlebag, no knife or axe was found.
In fact, having hidden it under the driver’s seat of the police car, the axe had since gone missing.
On 8th July, with Alfred Whiteway formerly charged over the rapes of Patricia and Kathleen, as he awaited his sentence, Hannan had more time to question him, and more chances to make him slip.
Hannan’s questions were nothing interesting, just a series of dull questions about Alfred’s routines.
Questioned about his route to and from his wife’s house (Alfred) “sometimes I ride along the towpath and over lock bridge”, his obsession with knives “I keep some in my saddlebag for throwing at trees”, the knives’ blades “it’s a twelve-inch Ghurkha knife and an eight-inch sheath knife”, his route to the trees at Old Ham Lock, “I cycle over Kingston footbridge and passed my swimming place by Teddington Lock. I know that bit of the towpath well”, and as he nervously gabbled with the devious detective, Alfred even admitted that the last time he could recall throwing his twenty-inch black-and-yellow axe at a tree - was at Old Ham Lock, where the two girls were last seen, a few hours before their murders.
Hannan was compiling a confession, but he needed something concrete.
On 15th July, the same day that Alfred pleaded ‘guilty’ at The Old Bailey to the rape of Patricia Birch and Kathleen Ringham, Constable Arthur Cosh of Kingston police station made a startling realisation.
While cleaning-out a black Wolseley Saloon before his shift, under the driver’s seat, he found an axe, but instead of handing it in, he took it home and used it to chop up firewood on the concrete floor. Three weeks later, realising its significance, PC Cosh handed the axe to Detective Hannan. But by that point; any fingerprints were missing, any blood traces were gone, the blade was blunt and - although the curved butt exactly matched the wounds to the girls’ heads – it was inadmissible as evidence.
Without it, the entire case would collapse, unless Hannan could secure a confession from the killer.
Alfred Whiteway was now a convicted rapist, and although his statements were shaky and the physical evidence was weak, there was no way Hannan would let him walk free on a technicality. So, what he did next was highly unethical. But then again, Detective Herbert Hannan, ‘the Policeman’s Policeman’ was a man who would drain a three-mile stretch of the River Thames to find a single little girl, and as he would later state “sometimes, you have to go beyond what it right, to see justice done”.
On 30th July 1953, having repeatedly interviewed his heavily-pregnant wife, as much to fact-check his lies as to get under Alfred’s skin, Hannan showed his evidence. First, the Ghurkha knife that Police had dredged out of Old Ham Lock, at which Alfred barely blinked (Alfred) “oh, you got it out of the water, did you?”. Second, Alfred’s bloodstained shoe which was too faint to group, a tiny detail that Hannan failed to mention, and as he turned pale and trembled, Alfred spluttered “you know bloody well it was me, don’t you?”. At which, thinking this key piece of evidence was lost forever, Hannan thudded onto the table - the axe - it was inadmissible in a court of law, but Alfred didn’t know that. (Alfred) “It’s all up. You bloody know well I done it! That’s buggered me. I can’t stop myself. I must have a woman. I didn’t mean to kill them. I never wanted to hurt anyone”. And with that, Hannan had his confession.
Alfred Charles Whiteway was charged with the murders of Barbara Songhurst & Christine Reed. Tried at the Old Bailey, he denied all charges and stated that the Police had fabricated his statement. But with a unanimous jury finding him guilty, on 23rd December 1953 he was hung at Wandsworth Prison.
A killer was dead, streets would be safe and (as he had promised) justice had returned to Teddington, but several details about the attack still bothered Detective Superintendent Herbert Hannan.
Alfred Whiteway was a serial rapist who attacked lone females in dark isolated spots; his motive was sex, his victims were strangers, he felt no anger towards them only lust and his method of attack never deviated. Chosen at random; each girl was spotted, stalked, struck, dazed, dragged, stripped, raped and – although bloodied and traumatised – all of them were left alive… except Barbara and Christine.
But why? Why rape and murder two young girls at the same time? What if one screamed, or got away?
The truest words that Alfred ever stated was during his confession, he said “I didn’t mean to kill them, I never wanted to hurt anyone”. And yet - for whatever reason – something drove him to kill.
Sunday 31st May 1953 was a glorious sunny day, perfect for a little riverside picnic for two best-friends and their pals. But for Nellie & Alfred, married-life had soured, and as they strolled through Canbury Park - with one baby wailing, a second baby due, no home, no job and their fights becoming more frequent - although they kissed and made-up, at 11pm Alfred cycled-away to make his way home.
He wasn’t angry or upset, but as the couple’s sex-life had stalled, his ever-insatiable urges lay unsated.
At 11:10pm, having cycled one mile north to the Kingston footbridge, “I know that bit of the towpath well”; with moonless sky all dark and cloudy, occasionally spotting a lone female cycling by the dense thicket at Teddington Lock, his urges stirred. “You know I’d go any distance to get a bit from a girl who hadn’t had it before”. Hiding behind a tree, Alfred waited; his bike hidden, his bag stashed, his axe in his hand and an erection in his pants. “I can’t stop myself. I must have a woman”. He didn’t care who, a stranger’s a stranger, and being used to taking whatever he desired, all they meant to him was sex.
The lock was the perfect place for a rapist to lurk… but not one with bad eyesight, who was so short-sighted he could barely read or spot a relative across the street, and was too proud to wear glasses.
At 11:15pm, as Barbara & Christine left the picnic at Petersham Meadows and cycled south passed Old Ham Lock, their rickety bikes clattered down the dark uneven towpath as the girls rode in tandem. Barely illuminated by the single yellowy bike-light she had borrowed, Barbara cycled ahead, singing as she often did, as (unlit owing to a broken bulb) a slightly shyer Christine meekly followed behind her.
Fifteen minutes later, as Alfred lay in wait, hidden by a tree; his eyes saw only one bike-light, not two, his ears heard one voice singing, not two, and thinking she was a lone female - with the curved blunt butt of his axe – Alfred struck and knocked Barbara clean off her bike. “She came round the tree where I was stood, I bashed her no harder than the (girl in the park) and she went down like a log”.
Hearing her bike fall, as Christine stopped a few feet short; seeing a man, an axe and her best-friend lying all bloodied and slumped, Christine panicked. “I only saw one girl. Then the other one screamed”. With his perfect plan smashed and at the risk of her fleeing “I nipped over to shut her up”, with four swift blows to the head which rendered her dazed, immobile and disorientated, but not dead.
Having dragged both girls into the dense dark thicket, for Alfred, although things had gone awry, the maths was very simple; two virgins, one rapist and an insatiable sexual urge to satisfy. So, in a shift to his plan, as they struggled, he strangled, stripped and raped both girls, as they lay side-by-side.
Except… with a pain in her head and blood in her eyes, even as she drifted in-and-out of consciousness in the dark dense thicket, unlike Alfred, there was nothing wrong with Barbara’s eyesight. She was not a stranger (Barbara) “Alf? Alf Whiteway?”. She knew his name, he knew his face, she knew where he lived. “And then I tumbled, she knew me. If it hadn’t been for that, it wouldn’t have happened”.
In a blind angry panic, he snatched the sheath-knife from his saddlebag and in a swift frenzied attack stabbed both girls to death; with Christine lying face-up and his old neighbour Barbara face-down, so he didn’t have to look into the petrified eyes of the little girl he last saw when she was six.
Being dead, he dragged both girls down the grassy slope – their blood stained the coping stones and the oak timbers of the lock-wall – and as he cast both bodies out into the dark black river, the tidal waters carried them upstream and - he hoped - out to sea. He took the weapons, dumped the bikes, mistakenly left behind his green gaberdine rain-coat and believed he had got away with murder. (End)
Only he hadn’t counted on Detective Superintendent Herbert Hannan.
Across the five-day trial at The Old Bailey, the defence council for Alfred Whiteway picked holes in the evidence, stated that the confession was a complete fabrication and they questioned the ethics of this highly experienced but devious detective who “always got the job done”.
With the eye-witness testimony of his 14-year-old Kathleen Ringham deemed irrelevant by the judge and the axe inadmissible, basing their conclusion on circumstantial evidence and a dubious confession, the jury took less than 45 minutes to find Alfred Whiteway guilty and his appeal was dismissed.
On 12th November 1953, six weeks before his execution, Alfred sent the detective a handwritten letter from prison. It read “Mr Hannan, you were wrong. Why you made up that false confession I can’t say, but you knew your word would be more accepted than mine. I played into your hands too easily. You were so positive that it was me that you risked a lot to have me hanged. Well, you were successful”.
A second letter Alfred sent to his own mother, it read “I’ll tell you this ma, I’ve done some rotten things in my life but this time they are wrong. I never did it, but I still reckon I deserve to die for that Oxshott affair. So, if anybody brings that up against me, you tell them they’re wrong. Your loving son. Alfred”.
Whether the detective had lied, we shall never know. But the sentence brought closure to the grieving families, the girls were buried, a new era was ushered-in with a new Queen, and - just as Herbert Hannan had promised - peace returned to Teddington as the Thames Towpath Murderer was dead.
Or was he?
This episode is dedicated to the memory of Barbara Songhurst and Christine Reed; two best-friends who lived as they died, side-by-side.
OUTRO: Ladies and gentlemen, thank you so much for listening to Murder Mile.
That was the final part of the Thames Towpath Murders. Next week? Something different. And you love a bit of pointless waffle, Extra Mile is up next.
Before that, a big thank you to my new Patreon supporters who are Shane Kinnair, Kathryn Williams, Cecelia Chang, Sharon Symonds, Michelle Anne Rogers and Lawrence McG, I thank you all muchly for your support. A thank you to Dawn Smith for your very kind donation via my website, and – I’m feeling very spoiled – John Lee, Annemieke (Anna-mick) and Mike Hughes, who weren’t put-off by that annoying advert that Acast forced into each episode, which I have since deleted, and donated via the Supporter link in the show-notes, I thank you too. And as always, a huge thank you to everyone who listens to the show… and doesn’t hate it. This show is for you. Everyone else? Meh.
Murder Mile was researched, written & performed by myself, with the main musical themes written and performed by Erik Stein & Jon Boux of Cult With No Name.
Thank you for listening and sleep well.
*** LEGAL DISCLAIMER
The Murder Mile UK True Crime Podcast has been researched using the original declassified police investigation files, court records, press reports and as many authentic sources as possible, which are freely available in the public domain, including eye-witness testimony, confessions, autopsy reports, first-hand accounts and independent investigation, where possible. But these documents are only as accurate as those recounting them and recording them, and are always incomplete or full of opinion rather than fact, therefore mistakes and misrepresentations can be made. As stated at the beginning of each episode (and as is clear by the way it is presented) Murder Mile UK True Crime Podcast is a 'dramatisation' of the events and not a documentary, therefore a certain amount of dramatic licence, selective characterisation and story-telling (within logical reason and based on extensive research) has been taken to create a fuller picture. It is not a full and complete representation of the case, the people or the investigation, and therefore should not be taken as such. It is also often (for the sake of clarity, speed and the drama) presented from a single person's perspective, usually (but not exclusively) the victim's, and therefore it will contain a certain level of bias and opinion to get across this single perspective, which may not be the overall opinion of those involved or associated. Murder Mile is just one possible retelling of each case. Murder Mile does not set out to cause any harm or distress to those involved, and those who listen to the podcast or read the transcripts provided should be aware that by accessing anything created by Murder Mile (or any source related to any each) that they may discover some details about a person, an incident or the police investigation itself, that they were unaware of.
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Michael J Buchanan-Dunne is a writer, crime historian, podcaster and tour-guide who runs Murder Mile Walks, a guided tour of Soho’s most notorious murder cases, hailed as “one of the top ten curious, quirky, unusual and different things to do in London”, nominated "one of the best true-crime podcasts at the British Podcast Awards", one of The Telegraph's top five true-crime podcasts and featuring 12 murderers, including 3 serial killers, across 15 locations, totaling 50 deaths, over just a one mile walk.
Michael J Buchanan-Dunne is a crime writer, podcaster & tour guide of Murder Mile Walks, hailed as one of the best "quirky curious & unusual things to do in London".
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