Saturday, 19 October 2013

The Mysterious Death of Herbert Wilkinson

This unsolved murder goes back to 1967, and the Cheshire village of Middlewich.  Herbert Wilkinson had been a Solicitor but he found himself in trouble over his practice, which led to him being struck off by the Law Society at the end of 1966.  It was also alleged that Wilkinson had homosexual tendencies.  The Law regarding homosexuality was changed in 1967, when sex between consenting adults above a certain age was no longer a criminal offence.  It was on June 2nd 1967, that Wilkinson wrote out a note for his housekeeper and then he vanished.  His body was discovered in October 1967 by two men looking for fox earths.  Wilkinson had been buried in a shallow grave beside the Trent & Mersey Canal at Whatcroft.  He was later identified by pieces of his clothing and his shoes.  Autopsy could not conclusively prove the method of death, but it was thought to by strangulation or a blow from a blunt object.

    The murder investigation was headed by Chief Superintendent Arthur Benfield, a man who came to prominence by leading the Moors Murders enquiry.  During an intensive hunt, lasting more than six months, Benfield could not produce a suspect to be charged.  The hunt became one of the biggest in the country, with Police taking more than 800 statements, and interviewed 8000 people in Middlewich and 9000 people across the country.  Later, at an inquest at Northwich in March 1968, the Jury delivered a verdict of wilful murder by person or persons unknown.  The location of the grave was in a remote spot so Police believed that Wilkinson had been taken there by boat.  The case remains open.