Mary Money: The Mutilation in the Merstham Tunnel #RealCrimeFriday
Sunday 24 September 1905. A Sub-Inspector is walking through Merstham Tunnel on the Brighton line, when he discovers the badly mutilated body of a woman.
The Sub-Inspector immediately reports the discovery to the station master, who informs the local police.
There are no documents on the body that could assist the police with finding the woman’s identity, stranger still, there’s no money or railway ticket. No reports have been received of train doors being open as they passed through the tunnel, nor has there been any word of untoward incidents occurring on a train.
It is assumed that the woman walked into the tunnel to commit suicide.
However, an initial medical examination reveals that a scarf has been forced down the woman’s throat. Certain marks are also found on the wall of the tunnel, leading the case down a more sinister path. A description of the woman is circulated, and on Monday morning a young man comes and identifies the woman as his sister, Mary Money, a twenty-one year old who worked as a bookkeeper for a dairy in Lavender Hill, Clapham Junction.
An expert from the Home Office expresses the opinion that Money had been dead for approximately one hour when she was discovered. It is also found that the bruises and other injuries were caused before death, and were probably the result of a violent struggle.
The train which would have passed through the tunnel during the crucial period was the 9:33pm from London Bridge. The guard recalls that he had seen a young woman fitting Money’s description sitting with a young man in a first class compartment. He had seen them again at South Croydon, sitting closer together. Beyond the tunnel, at Redhill, he had seen the young man leave what he believed was the same compartment and walk towards the exit. The young man is described as thin, with a moustache and wearing a bowler hat.
A signalman at Purley Oaks adds further information, reporting that when the 9:33pm train passed his box, he saw a man and a woman struggling in a first class carriage. The signalman did not pay much attention to it, as he was used to seeing passengers amorously wrestling in first class carriages.
The police begin questioning male acquaintances of Money’s, but it appears that she did not have any boyfriends. Emma Hone, who lived with Money and knew her very well, does not know of any close male acquaintances.
At about 7pm Money had left the dairy she worked at, saying that she was going out for a stroll and would not be very long. She had then gone to a sweet shop in the station approach at Clapham Junction, where she was a regular customer, and bought some chocolate. She had mentioned to the owner that she was going to Victoria. A ticket collector identifies Money from a photograph, saying that he had seen her at 7:20pm, and she had told him she was going to Victoria. He is the last person who can positively say that they had seen Money before she was found in the tunnel.
During the adjourned inquest a young clerk for London and North Western Railway who had known Money for years, is questioned. He proves that he was miles away at the vital time and is cleared from all suspicion.
When the inquest resumes Money’s employer, Bridger, as well as his brother are questioned and provide evidence that they were not associated with Money in a more than friendly fashion. A surprising verdict is reached that Money “met her death by severe injuries brought about by a train but the evidence was insufficient to show whether she fell or was thrown from the train.”
Subscribe to Real Crime magazine here and have the world’s best collection of real crime stories delivered to your door each month.