Sir Bernard Spilsbury

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Sir Bernard Spilsbury - S U N J AT,!'SA'T S, 19 3 5 till ass MuiRDER...
S U N J AT,!'SA'T S, 19 3 5 till ass MuiRDER OUMOSITY MOP Editor's Note: This is the fourth of a series of articles about the amazivg crime detection exploits of Sir Bernard Spilsbury, England's "Medical Sherlock Holmes." LONDON. THE INHABITANTS of the quiet little English city of Portslade were in a good deal of a stew of excitement that November morning in 1933. A murder had been committed in their town; and since the town was English, and a sleepy little place to boot, this was an exceedingly unusual occurrence. It had everybody talking. By American standards there was nothing nothing especially striking about the crime. Just an aged shopkeeper, struck down by some thug who had rifled the cash register and made his getaway. The shop was a poor one, the victim was without prominence, prominence, and the crime had been seen by no one. But Portslade being, as was said, English English and quiet wasn't used even to commonplace commonplace murders. So Portslade was all excited, and honest citizens were beginning beginning to wonder audibly if any man was safe nowadays. The victim was an old man named Joseph Bedford. He had lived in Portslade for half a century, and he had been 30 years old when he came there. Nobody knew much about him; there was a rumor that he had proposed marriage to a childhood sweetheart, years ago, In the heyday of Queen Victoria's reign, and had been rejected; rejected; nobody knew for sure and. nobody cared much. He kept a little shop a regular regular Old Curiosity Shop, such as Dickens described in his famous novel of that name where he sold pots and pans and assorted bric-a-brac, bric-a-brac, bric-a-brac, bric-a-brac, bric-a-brac, and he lived by himself in a tiny bedroom over the store. f IIS wants had been few and his habit had been frugal, so Joseph Bedi j had saved a good deal of money. He used to keep it all stowed away in his house until, at last, some one managed to persuade persuade him that this was foolish. Then he deposited the equivalent of $15,000 in a bank. Anyway, old Joseph Bedford had been killed. The crime was discovered about 9 o'clock on the evening of Nov. 13, when a bobby who was making his rounds chanced to notice that some of the old man's stock of odds and ends was still standing on the stands In front of the shop. The bobby knew that the old man usually took his stuff Inside pretty early, closed up and went to bed; so he went up to the door and tried the handle, found it locked, and then peered through the glass Into the shop, flashing a light in as he did. The policeman was astounded to see Joseph Joseph Bedford coming feebly down the stairs at the back of his shop, blood streaming down his face. As the policeman watched, the 80-year-old 80-year-old 80-year-old 80-year-old 80-year-old man toppled to the floor and lay still. Forcing the door in, the policeman hurried hurried to his side. The old man was dead. At first it looked simple. Old Bedford feeble with years, half -blinded -blinded and almost deaf had probably stumbled and received a shock which, at his age, had killed him. Then, however, it developed that, although although every door and window in the place had been securely fastened, all the drawers and cash boxes had been forced open and rifled. A few copper farthings worth half a cent each in American money lay scattered scattered about on the floor. Hidden in a crevice in the wall was the equivalent of $200 in bills. So the Portslade police ' called in Scotland Scotland Yard. The Scotland Yard men found traces of blood on the floor and on the stairway. A button, which might have been pulled or fallen from some one's overcoat, lav nearby. But they had notliing to prove that Joseph Bedford had been murdered. Enter, at this point, Sir Bernard Spilsbury. Spilsbury. VTOW Sir Bernard Spilsbury, who looks like a studious member of Parliament or an amiable frequenter of garden parties, parties, is probably the greatest nemesis to murderers in all England. His official title is pathologist to the Home Office, and Scotland Yard summons him whenever there is any kind of medical mystery in connection with a crime or a supposed crime. Working always -with -with quiet, scientific precision. Sir Bernard has sent many and many a murderer to the gallows. He first attracted attention to himself before the war, when, as a junior pathologist, he got the evidence which resulted in the arrest and conviction of the notorious Dr. Crip-pen. Crip-pen. Crip-pen. Since then he has made a fine art of the study of criminal pathology. He is. in fact, a sort of medical Sherlock Sherlock Holmes. When the police have a body exhumed, he is there. When the coroner holds an inquest. Sir Bernard is there. Now the British have a way of getting practically all of the evidence they need, in a murder case, before making an arrest. That they are so successful in this is at least partly due to Sir Bernard. His years of experience, coupled with his grim, uncanny uncanny ability to reconstruct a tragedy after studious examination of the victim's body, have made him as relentless a bloodhound as the law ever put on a slayer's trail. CO much for Sir Bernard's background. He was called to Portslade the day after the tragedy was discovered; and his coming sealed the doom of two unsuspecting unsuspecting young men who had sh'pt that night, presumably, as soundly as uncaught murderers murderers ever do sleep. Sir Bernard Spilsbury. then, went to Portslade and made a thorough examina tion of Joseph Bedford's wasted old body. He soon announced that death had been caused, not by a fall, but by a series of blows on the skull. Six miles west of Portslade Is the larger town of Worthing; and a week or so after the murder the Worthing police arrested two young men on the vague charge of loitering. These men gave their names as Frederick Parker, 21, and Albert Pro-bert, Pro-bert, Pro-bert, 26. These men had come to Worthing, seemingly, seemingly, a day or two after the murder. They had gone to a shop, where each man bought a new suit, shirt, tie and collar, changing clothes In the shop and taking the old clothes away with them when they left. Search of their lodging revealed a suitcase suitcase containing besides the old clothing an automatic pistol and a book of sweepstakes sweepstakes tickets, with counterfoils of those which had been sold. Back to Portslade shifted the investigation. investigation. A shopkeeper was found who said the two young men had come into his store, on the day of the murder, and had tried to sell him a sweepstakes ticket. 'IViK Worthing police began asking the prisoners questions. Finally Parker broke down and said: "We knocked out an old man in Portslade. Portslade. We took money from the till. We walked in and spoke to the old man. I turned and locked the door. No one was passing, and I brought a pistol into play just to scare him the gun wasn't loaded. I held him and the other ch:ip went around and knocked him out." He added that the job wasn't worth doing, as they had only got five pounds (about $25, at par) out of it; and he asked, "How Is the old man?" The old man, he was informed, was dead. Parker and Probert were held for murder. Parker then got panicky and talked some more. He said that he had been reluctant to take part in the job, and that he had refused to do anything but hold the unloaded unloaded gun. When the old man resisted, he said, Probert knocked him down and pounded his head against the floor, over and over. Probert, on the other hand, insisted that he knew nothing about the case. He maintained maintained this attitude when they were arraigned. arraigned. The frightened Parker, however, fainted seven times during the arraignment. arraignment. So the two were tried for murder. They pleaded not guilty, and their counsel advanced advanced the plea that the old man had not died from the wounds inflicted upon him in the robberby. npHEN Sir Bernard Spilsbury was called as a witness. He look the stand bearing bearing in his hand a model of Joseph Bed-fords Bed-fords Bed-fords skull. Displaying Uiis to tlie Jury, he showed how the fatal Injuries could not possibly have been caused by a fall. but were the result of repeated blows. H said that death would not necessarily have come Immediately; a person so injured might live for one or two hours, or even for several days. The defense attorney asked: "Do you suggest that a man thus injured could walk about a crowded shop, lock tho front door, put the key in its proper place, climb up a ladder twice to put out the ga3 lights, go up a narrow winding staircase, go to bed, and then come down those stairs again?" "Yes, if as in this case the surroundings surroundings were familiar," replied Sir Bernard. "He would do what he was accustomed to do night after night. He may have car-ried car-ried car-ried on almost automatically." That evidence clinched the case. It should be mentioned that Sir Bernard's bearing on the witness stand is impressive. He never raises his voice; he is always courteous and fair. He tells only what he knows, and juries believe him. They believed him in this case. On March 16 Probert and Parker were sentenced to death. They were hanged in May. Executives Speaking Continued from Page S tient. Some of them, too. are ready to giva you their personal opinions and these sometimes sometimes prove helpful. There is also a better atmosphere about women and they are more receptive to people. Men secretaries, I think, would be too subjective. Secretary ship is not in the male makeup: this does not apply to executive secretaries. "My advice to any one choosing a conft dential woman secretary is to make sura that she does not have the universal at tribute of womankind but is a person versed in the art of reticence." Miss Anita Furness. personnel activities manager of Abraham & Straus, who has ail assistant and a secretary, said she never thinks of them in those terms. "I'm a very; bad boss because I dont like any one work ing for me. I want them working Willi me. I cant give orders and I don't lika telling people what they should do. If the don't comprehend the job and step right in and do it. they're absolutely no use to me."- me."- Today psychologists tell us that per sonality cannot be measured. What a won derful field awaits them on the day wuett their science has advanced to the point o8 gauging and classifying personality. NoS only will all business placement depend upon them, but think of their importance ai counsellors or arrangers in the matrimo nial field! Instead of telephoning an employment agency and having them send up five. si( or a dozen applicants to be interviewed, man win telephone the Psychologic Exchange Exchange and say, ''My personality is QYtL Send me a suitable secretary." j

Clipped from The Brooklyn Daily Eagle05 May 1935, SunPage 74

The Brooklyn Daily Eagle (Brooklyn, New York)05 May 1935, SunPage 74
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  • Sir Bernard Spilsbury

    k_14clark – 23 Jan 2016

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