Murder Mile UK True-Crime Podcast - #178: The Night Porter - Part Three of Three
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EPISODE ONE HUNDRED AND SEVENTY-EIGHT:
On the morning of Sunday 17th September 1972, in Room 11, 68-year-old Emmy Werner was found dead in the bed of Room 11 in the Queen’s Hotel, Bayswater. Having locked her door from the inside – gaining entry - someone had beaten, suffocated and strangled her. It was a cruel and motiveless crime on a defenseless old lady, which remains unsolved to this day. But who had killed her, and why?
SOURCES: This case was researched using some of the sources below.
COURT RECORDS - https://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/details/r/C11039420
COURT RECORDS - https://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/details/r/C11039421
UNEDITED TRANSCRIPT OF THE EPISODE:
Welcome to Murder Mile.
(Long pause, street and siren). At roughly 1pm on Sunday 17th September 1972, a chambermaid found the body of 68-year-old Emmy Werner, behind the locked door of Room 11 at the Queen’s Hotel.
Having been subjected to six years under Nazi occupation, three years in a concentration camp, a decade in psychiatric care owing to the trauma she had suffered and half a lifetime of mental illness, this little dot of a lady had endured so much and yet she deserved to find peace in her declining years.
In a break from the nursing home she disliked, on a quiet side-street in Bayswater, she found a small sliver of sanctuary by staying at a cheap little guesthouse called The Queen’s Hotel. In her own words; the rooms were clean, the staff were nice and she felt safe among the people she saw as friends.
Emmy was a frail old lady who was battling dementia… and although some of the staff genuinely cared about her welfare; for others, her frail body, confused brain and deafness made her an easy-target
The evidence you are about to hear has never been released, many of the witnesses’ descriptions may include perspective rather than fact, and to protect the innocent the names have been abbreviated.
My name is Michael, I am your tour-guide and this is Murder Mile.
Episode 178: The Night Porter – Part Three.
The Police knew there were several undeniable truths about the man who murdered Emmy Werner.
Having entered her locked bedroom without breaking-in, he had prior knowledge of the fault with the balcony door, the acute deafness of his victim and the large sums of cash in her purse. By trade, he was not a professional burglar (as he carried no tools-of-his-trade) but a cocky amateur who had crept into hotel rooms many times before, to steal as his victims slept soundly in their beds…
…only this time, the occupant had awoken.
It was never believed that his intention was murder; but having been startled awake, seeing his face and (possibly) knowing his name, in a fit of panic he had beaten, strangled and suffocated her. Fleeing, with very little, if anything, his selfishness had resulted in the slow and painful death of an elderly lady.
As in all investigations, the Police questioned the staff… in particular, the night porter.
Paddy had been the night porter at The Queen’s Hotel for ten weeks. Hailing from Ireland, he had taken over from the previous night porter who was dismissed, although we shall never know why.
On the night of Saturday 16th September 1972, Paul the 16-year-old day porter would recall “Paddy was drunk when he arrived. I said to him ‘you’re a bit pissed’. He said ‘I am a lot pissed’. I told him he was too fucking pissed to take over, but he said ‘he couldn’t go to bed because ‘they’ (his cousins Barry & Maureen who were not paying guests) were having a jump around’. Unable to stay in Room 45, as they were shagging, being at a loose end, a sozzled Paddy came to reception and continued to drink.
“Paddy said he was starving. I said I’d go to the Wimpy on Queensway. I got him two cheeseburgers, a bag of chips and I went back to the hotel and gave them to him. Except for the sleeping staff and guests, this brief gap left Paddy alone in the hotel in and around the time Emmy that was attacked.
Paddy partly paid for his food with a £20 note. Where he got this money from was never determined, although by running a little scam in which he (allegedly) let out rooms to guests off-the-book and kept the cash, that night he gave Paul & Patricia the chambermaid £5 between them to keep them sweet.
Being drunk and alone, with a weak alibi and a dubious sum of money, Paddy was a prime suspect.
Police investigated his movements that night, but being unable to find anything to connect him to the evidence obtained at the crime scene, Paddy was ruled out. On the balcony, detectives had found a fingerprint, only it was not his. No particles of black bitumen had attached to his clothes or boots. The saliva found on the cigarette’s filter-tip (possibly left by her killer) was from a Group A secreter, but he was Group B. And none of Emmy’s blood, skin or hair were found on his clothes or under his nails.
The Police still believed the night porter was her killer, only that night, Paddy was not the night porter…
…as having traded shifts as Paddy was drunk, the night porter was Paul.
Born in the mid-fifties in Middlesbrough, an industrial town on the north-east coast of England, his father was a hard-working docker in the local shipyards, as his disabled mother raised him at home.
Aged three, tragedy struck when on the day after his brother’s birth, his mother died of heart failure. With this small family in chaos as the lynchpin of their unit was gone, Paul and his three siblings were adopted by their grandmother, who raised them as her own in her pre-war terraced council house.
Seen as elderly (in his eyes), she gave him the love and stability this young boy needed, and by all who knew him; he was intelligent, alert and articulate, and wasn’t disturbed by the trauma of his past.
That year, his father remarried, and although Paul spoke fondly of his grandmother and affectionately of his father, his one later regret was that “I never gave my step-mother a chance”. This wasn’t a wild and angry kid out for revenge, as even he would state “I felt inferior… and wanted to better myself”.
Life was going okay; he had gained a place at grammar school and his future looked promising.
But in 1969, when he was 14, his grandmother died. She was his everything. Paul would later state “I never had a family, just replacements of a family… they all died, all my life I’ve been getting over it”.
Still being only a kid, he moved back in with his father and step-mother but the atmosphere was tense. He lived briefly with his uncle, but being arrested in May 1971 for burglary and theft - escaping with a £5 fine - he personally asked Social Services to put him in a Youth Hostel. As a young lad on the streets with a criminal conviction who had begun experimenting with drugs, his life could have hit the skids…
…only he wasn’t seeking self-destruction or revenge, what he wanted was excitement.
On 10th January 1972, Paul got a job as a porter and handyman at The Queen’s Hotel; the hours were easy, the pay was okay and with food and board included, the rest he spent on fun. In his spare time, he joined a band (playing guitar and harmonica), he got gigs as a roadie (with his dream to tour with the Rolling Stones), he hitchhiked across the UK in June to July, and in August he returned to the hotel.
Like many at the hotel, he was a typical young lad looking for new experiences; he liked music, fashion, drink and sex, and – amidst this like-minded group of kids in an adult’s world – he found a new family.
When arrested on the charge of murder, his family found it impossible to comprehend that he could be capable of such violence, being described as “passive with no tendencies towards aggression” …
…but for the police, Paul was their prime suspect.
By August 1972, when Paul had returned from hiking and was back at the hotel earning a few quid for his next adventure, Emmy had already become a well-liked regular. As a friend of Linda, Paul joined them both for meals, he collected her post and they chatted in the hotel lounge most evenings over a light bedtime snack of cheese, crackers and a cup of tea. It was like having a grandmother once again
But was this a new friendship which was blossoming…
…or (as the police would suspect) a burglar simply choosing his next victim?
On the night of the murder - with Paddy apparently too pissed to do his duty as the night porter - Paul called Osmond (who was sick in his bed) and asked “can I take Paddy’s shift?”. A noble act, and yet; Paddy remained at reception during the night, Paul already had plans to meet his pals (which he would do), and Paul himself was sick with a cold, sneezing and blowing his nose into fistfuls of toilet tissue.
The police felt this was unusual, although it had some logic.
On previous visits, as an elderly lady who struggled to climb stairs unaided, Emmy had regularly stayed in Room 17, next-door to Osmond. But being almost full that weekend, she was place in Room 11 - a room in which the balcony doors could not be locked unless Paul had held it shut with a 5p piece, and - as the hotel’s handyman - a job which Paul was either scheduled to repair, or deliberately didn’t?
Again, the police felt this was unusual, but (given how badly this guesthouse was run) it had logic.
When questioned, Paul admitted that he (and other members of staff) would enter hotel rooms via the French windows on the balcony, stating; “yes, a lot of times, guests get locked out and I had to climb up to let them in”. When Detectives asked “have you had to do this for Room 11?”, Paul replied “nearly every room. I know you’re thinking about fingerprints, but mine are all over the place”.
Fingerprints were found on the balcony, but none of them were Paul’s.
As a dysfunctional hotel run by disinterested kids earning a pittance and a manager with other things on his mind, their complacency had clearly rubbed-off on each other. For Emmy, she saw this cheap little hotel as a safe haven and the staff as her friends, but what she didn’t witness was its darker side…
… a dark side which may have got her killed.
Among some of the staff, The Queen’s Hotel had a bad attitude which was encouraged. With this being more of a job than a career; many bunked off work, turned up drunk and let mates stay over for free.
Ziggy & Garnot, two German pals of Paul’s admitted “we were sitting in the TV room, the phone rang once, then stopped. That was a pre-arranged signal from Paul that the manager was coming. We ran out and waited till Paul said it was safe”. Admittedly, his actions were no worse than any other petty-minded teenager pushing the boundaries. But was he protecting his friends, or (as the police would suspect) was this a way to ensure that the hotel was clear of guests? Being sick in bed, Osmond stated he never left his room all night, which means between 11:30pm and 2am, Paul was mostly alone.
That said, many of the staff engaged in little side-lines which were not only wrong, but illegal.
According to Rosemary, the chambermaid who Cathy replaced “after a few days, everyone was sitting at the table and openly talking about what they were doing at the hotel in a way as a fiddle…”.
It was said that the scams began at the top. “Osmond the manager always had things in his room, like teddy bears, watches, cameras, jewellery, everything”. It was a like an Aladdin’s cave of stolen goods.
Staff routinely stole from guest’s suitcases (which is how they knew that Mr James owned a bondage whip), and as is a habit in some hotels – when guests were rude – their toothbrush was inserted anally.
The hotel did a roaring trade in illicit drugs, whatever you wanted, they could get; cannabis, speed and LSD, partially bought from Tappy, a mate of Osmond who claimed he was a roadie. Which was one of the reasons the police had so few witnesses to the murder, as some of the staff were drunk or high.
Another possible reason was that the hotel sold sex. According to Amy “Paul slept with the prostitutes, as well as Linda and Patricia”, and as stated by Rosemary “Osmond had Cindy the chambermaid sacked because she had been one of his prostitutes for the guests, and he refused to give her a bigger cut”.
But the main scam among the staff were the thefts.
Several staff attested that Paul – the 16-year-old with a conviction for burglary – often bragged about his unblemished record when it came to theft. “He boasted about getting into guests’ bedrooms and stealing things while they were asleep”, asked why they never saw him, he said ‘he was too clever’“.
To ensure the guest’s personal possessions were safe, according to the Gunhilde the housekeeper, “there should only have been three master keys which opened every door; one for the manager, one for myself and one kept at reception… but everybody had a master key, Osmond had a bunch of them”.
Besides, Paul knew how to creep about undetected. When asked why no-one heard him stealing from rooms “he said it was because of his plimsolls. He used to sneak up, so quiet, behind you and put his hands on your shoulders… he was really creepy. I asked him if he had any close calls and he said ‘never’.
But like everyone who is young, cocky and inexperienced…
…sometimes luck can bite you back.
According to Rosemary “he got a kick out of it. I saw him with cameras, jewellery, etc, he always had rolls of money and spent a lot. Paul told me he knew which guests had money and which would wake up… he said he mostly went into women’s rooms because they left their jewellery out at night”. And to ensure they wouldn’t awake as he crept about, he would pick the easiest of targets…
…like frail old ladies who were deaf and suffered with dementia.
But it was the sadism inflicted on Emmy which led the police to their prime suspect. If a burglar had been disturbed, he was most likely to flee or batter his victim to silence them. Whereas Emmy was gagged, suffocated and strangled in a slow painful torture which would have taken minutes to die.
He seemed such a passive young boy, but to those who knew him, Paul also had a sinister side.
Mowan, a former receptionist said “he was obsessed, he talked all the time of how he would strangle people. He told me one day about how he had strangled one of the chambermaids with her own hair”.
Only, he wasn’t a man who was “all mouth, no trousers”, kinky sex was what he liked.
Diana, also a former receptionist at The Queen’s Hotel told the police of an incident which occurred just three days before Emmy’s murder: “I went to my bed in Room 43 at about 1am. I woke up when Paul came into my room. The door lock didn’t work. He sat on the bed, lit a cigarette and said he felt like doing something naughty. I was tired and uninterested. He said “I think I’ll tie you up”. He took the bootlaces from his boots, he tied my wrists and ankles, he placed a towel over my head in the form of a hood. It almost smothered me… I could not remove it was because my hands were tied and he was sitting astride me” – a method of strangulation not too dissimilar to how Emmy would die.
Of course, Paul was never charged with any of these offenses…
…which begs the question, was any of it true?
On Thursday 14th September 1972 at roughly 10:30pm, Emmy entered the Queen’s Hotel. As a regular, she was dressed in a brown cardigan (later used to bind her wrists) and a woolly mohair scarf (used to gag her screams and shut-off her breath). In her hand she carried a bag filled with items of little value to anyone but her; some clothes, some tissues, a box of TUC crackers and a bottle of jasmine perfume.
The Queen’s Hotel was where Emmy felt safe, among a staff of kids she saw as friends.
Greeted by Angela the receptionist, Paul, the young day-porter telephoned Linda in her room to tell her “Mrs W’s here”, as Emmy had promised to take her to the theatre. And although blighted by a cold and blowing his nose into fistfuls of toilet tissue, Paul assisted Emmy and her bag to Room 11.
Emmy was liked… but it’s possible she had already been marked as an easy target.
Osmond admitted he didn’t like her: “she was a little bit senile and I thought she was rather pathetic. I got the impression that she had money”. But what he liked was that she always paid her bill in cash.
Emmy was not wealthy, but like many pensioners with money worries, she trusted notes over banks.
Back in August, Amy a former chambermaid recalled “an old woman was staying in Room 17, she had a German accent. She had a lot of money but she looked very poor. Whilst she was showing me some photographs, she took her purse out which had loads of money in it… afterwards Paul remarked ‘I wouldn’t mind a bit of that’… one time I found her purse while cleaning the TV room, I handed it back to her and Paul said I was stupid. He asked ‘did she have a lot?”, I said ‘it was full, I couldn’t close it’.
The next day, as Emmy came down to breakfast, the staff remarked that she didn’t look well. She said she hadn’t slept a wink as she thought “someone was trying to get into her room”. That night, “she slept in all of her clothes and had put a table against the door”. As a confused old lady who was prone to losing things, although she thought she’d had some money stolen, this was dismissed as senility.
In her eyes, why would the staff steal from her? They were her friends. But were they?
Amy would also state: “Paul was always taking the Micky”, and as a vulnerable lady whose traumatic life and mental illness often caused her to repeat what others had said, “he mocked her, saying she was like a parrot”. But most of all, “he always watched her, especially when she opened her purse”.
That night, as Emmy checked-in to The Queen’s Hotel, she wasn’t placed in her usual room, Room 17. But Room 11, a small first-floor bedroom with a balcony and a set of French doors which didn’t lock.
This could have been a coincidence, or it could have been deliberate?
At 9pm, on Saturday 17th September, Emmy & Linda returned from the theatre, they chatted in the lounge with Paul & Patricia, and at 11:05pm, Linda escorted her to Room 11 and went to bed herself.
Most of the guests and staff were asleep, Paddy was drunk, Ziggy & Garnot were awaiting Paul’s call, Barry & Maureen were shagging and there would be next-to-no witnesses to Paul’s alibi or the murder, as that night, in his basement room; Patricia, Ziggy, Garnot and Paul would each drop a tab of LSD.
With no eye-witnesses, the Police could only go on the evidence found at the crime-scene.
By his own history, 16-year-old Paul had one conviction for burglary, he was frequently seen with stolen goods and he boasted of creeping into guests’ bedrooms as they slept to steal their belongings.
As a porter, he could access master keys. As a handyman, it was his job to undertake repairs. And as staff, he knew Emmy was in a room with a broken lock, on a night that the hotel was unbearably hot.
That night, the man who entered Emmy’s room as she slept got away with very little, if at all. Possibly a few pounds, but missing was a bottle of jasmine perfume, similar to one later found in Paul’s room.
The day after her murder, the Police doctor examined Paul and found several bruises, a day to two old; upon his arms, wrists and fists which he could not explain – but we know that Emmy fought back.
Upon the floor, a cigarette’s filter-tip was retrieved and examined; the brand was John Player Special (the type Paul smoked), and the saliva was from a Group A (HP 2-1) secretor – the same as Paul’s.
But none of this was cold hard fact, as every piece of evidence also had a logic and a reason.
Paul would admit that his fingerprints would be found in the room, but they weren’t. Not a single print of his was; so, either they had been wiped away, or as a porter who wore gloves, he left none?
With only one entry point, the Police knew Emmy’s killer had walked particles of black bitumen (used to waterproof the balcony) across the carpet, to the bed, to the wardrobe and inside of her bedsheet as he had straddled her during her beating and strangulation. But retrieved a few days later – although he was on her balcony as the fire engines went past - no particles were found on his clothes or shoes.
When examined, none of Emmy’s skin, blood, saliva or fibres was found on Paul. And as a boy with a cold who repeatedly sniffled and sneezed that night, although fistfuls of identical toilet tissue - which her killer had stuffed down Emmy’s throat to suffocate her - was found in his room and in his pockets, it was a standard white toilet paper, kept in the hotel storeroom and used by every guest or staff in every room. And besides, Paul wasn’t the only staff member with a cold that day, as so was Osmond.
That aside, for Emmy’s murder, the Police felt they had enough evidence to convict… (End)
…only they didn’t.
From the 5th to the 12th February 1973, Paul was tried at The Old Bailey on the charges of robbery and murder. Standing before Mr Justice Eveleigh, and defended by Mr Mayhew QC, he pleaded not guilty.
Across the five-day trial, witnesses included family, friends, staff, pathologists, forensic scientists, a psychiatrist to determine Paul’s state of mind and medical experts as to the effects of LSD on memory.
Throughout Paul held firm of his innocence, and said that if released, his father had agreed to take him back, and given his age, they asked that he be placed under a care order, rather than in a prison.
But it was all academic. With no witnesses and no fingerprints, his movements vague and her time of death sketchy, with the cigarette tip not proven to be his and the perfume not proven to be Emmy’s, and – more importantly – not a single person having seen him enter Room 11? With the evidence determined to be purely circumstantial, on the 12th February 1973, Paul the day porter was acquitted.
Through the hardships of her life, Emmy had struggled and survived through unimaginable horror. Like many, physically she had survived the holocaust, but mentally she was scarred till the day she died. As an old vulnerable lady, she believed she had found sanctuary and friendship in a little guesthouse in Bayswater… only to be preyed on by the epitome of selfish evil, for a few pounds she didn’t have.
This year marks the 50th Anniversary of the murder of Emmy Werner and the case remains unsolved.
** 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.
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” and nominated "one of the best true-crime podcasts at the British Podcast Awards".
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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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