Tuesday, 29 September 2015

The Unsolved Murder of Emily Pye

Halifax, the West Yorkshire town, has an unsolved murder that stretches back to 1957, but despite the best efforts of the Police, the killer got away with it.  The events began on June 8th 1957, when an intruder entered the premises belonging to 80 year old Emily Pye and inflicted severe head injuries to the elderly lady.  That particular day was a public holiday, resulting in many people going away for the day.  But Emily's niece and husband arrived at the shop to find it firmly locked, but with no sign of her aunt.  They had arranged to meet that day and go out for the afternoon.  Despite banging on the door and shouting, there was no response.  The niece went for the Police, and a Constable arrived.  He tried knocking but with no answer, he asked for permission to force entry.  They consented and he smashed the door in, and upon entering, found the body of Emily.  She had been partially covered with a rug, and showed severe injuries to her head.  The Constable immediately sent for reinforcements.  The Chief Constable, Gerald Goodman, decided that this required vastly experienced murder investigators, so asked Scotland Yard for help.  Two officers were dispatched to Yorkshire.  Detective Superintendent Herbert Hannam & Detective Sergeant Chris Rowe.  Hannam had been involved in solving the Towpath Murders & the unsuccessful prosecution of Dr John Adams, in which he was torn apart in the witness box by Adams`barrister, Geoffrey Lawrence.

    The first task for the two, was to find people who had been in Gibbett Street that afternoon, but only came up with four witnesses.  One stated that Emily was alive at 12.20pm but soon there was a severe thunderstorm, which naturally made people stay indoors.  The autopsy by Dr David Price, determined death had occurred between noon and 3pm.  He also deduced that Emily had first suffered a physical beating before being struck with a blunt object.  This turned out to be one of her irons.  Money had been taken from the shop till but it was not much as it had been quiet due to the holiday and the weather.  Hannam believed that Emily knew her killer, as he did not immediately flee.  Did he decide to kill her after punching her, and that she recognised him?  Possible.  Or was he simply an evil brute?  Another pointer for a local was the fact that the killer securely bolted the shop door and left by a side door.  Hannam`s enquiries led him to check out hotels, hostels, boarding houses, places where drifters or homeless people would go.  Cars leading out of Halifax were stopped and drivers asked about hitchhikers.  Nobody reported seeing a man n bloodied clothes, none were found, and it seemed he had vanished completely unseen.  By christmas of that year, the investigation was halted and Hannam & Rowe returned to London.  So, did a local man commit this brutal crime?  Anybody out there with suggestions?