It does seem like a very odd and convoluted plot. Qualtrough has to know Wallace is going to play chess on the Monday evening, or the message luring him out on the Tuesday evening may not reach him. Even if it does, only Wallace knows if he will go or not, and he doesn't need to decide until the last minute anyway. It's actually quite absurd if you think about it, unless there is some reason why it has to be the Tuesday, or it's all about sending Wallace on a wild goose chase, and what happens in his absence is something that was never part of the original plan.
Could this be the answer? Does Parry make the call, in a petty attempt to get one back on Wallace, then decide to pay Julia a visit on the spur of the moment, eager to find out if Wallace has actually fallen for it? Is there a conversation between them, which winds Parry up further against Wallace, to the extent that he decides, again on the spur of the moment, to take a much more terrible revenge while he has Julia on her own?
Does this work with the other evidence, such as the mackintosh and the missing murder weapon? Could Parry have used the mac to ward off excessive blood stains and taken the iron bar or poker away with him in a panic, in case of fingerprints? What about the cash box? Did he take the money as an additional act of revenge, not caring that this would lead to him being suspected?
I still favour Wallace as Qualtrough and Julia's killer, in line with the vast majority of murders which happen in the victim's home and appear designed to lead suspicion away from the spouse.
Hi Caz, the Wallace case bares unmistakable marks of typical domestic homicide. Profiling would point strongly towards Wallace, particularly with the greater knowledge we have in the 21st century.
The injury to the head/face area, excessive overkill, and what looks like an incongruent robbery scene (suggesting staging) all are typical aspects involved in spouse (usually wife) homicide.
As usual, you make good and incisive points. I just can't see Parry behind such a plot, but if I were forced to suggest the best "Parry" scenario, it would be one where he makes the call as a prank having a laugh and then later decides to exploit it and visit Julia, maybe asking to borrow money. It would almost certainly not be a clever plot with an unbroken chain of events. Still, I find this scenario rather implausible for reasons we've spoken about before.
It should also be noted that regardless of how one can attempt to poke holes in RGP's alibi, he had a pretty cast iron alibi on the night of the murder from 5 until 8:30 PM. Lily Lloyd, his girlfriend at the time, after being jilted said his alibi of being with her was bogus. However, that was only for the later part of that evening and did not cover the time of the murder. (Later in life when tracked down, she said she absolutely believed he was innocent.) Also far from the police seeking to exonerate Parry, they examined him on the night of the murder and he was inspected down to the seams of his pants and under his fingernails.
If the police were guilty in bias in terms of unfairly trying to pin the crime on Wallace, it was only after examining other suspects. This does not excuse them, and it appears they DID try to get the milk boy to give a favorable time from their perspective (although then again his original time of about 6:45 was almost certainly wrong as corroborated by the other milk kids who gave detailed and convincing testimonies without being coached by the police first. )This timing is somewhat of a moot point as pretty much everyone now agrees it was around 6:37 , but I would concede the police seemed eager to move this back to 6:30 to give Wallace more time to have been guilty. This is clearly lacking in professional integrity and morality, but it does not mean Wallace was innocent. I believe Parry was rightly eliminated.
I was just going over the events of the murder in my mind last night after John’s post about the blood evidence. The phrase ‘cui bono’ came to mind with regard to getting rid of bloodstains. And so my thinking was....
Firstly, I apologise for re-stating facts that everyone on the thread is fully familiar with.
This surely wasn’t a robbery that went wrong? The only suspect is Parry and it’s unthinkable that he would have visited Julia (after getting rid of Wallace via a phonecall that he didn’t need to make [he could have acted any time Wallace went to chess]) and stolen money leaving Julia alive to tell the tale.
If he intended to kill Julia and steal the cash he wouldn’t have bothered putting the cash box back on the shelf. If he’d made the Qualtrough phonecall he’d have had reason to believe that Wallace would have been gone for a considerable time. This would have allowed him to pretty much ransack the house in search of cash but he didn’t. So much so that it gives the distinct impression of being a staged robbery.
And then there’s the blood (or rather the lack of it.) This is where my ‘cui bono’ comes in. If it’s suggested that Wallace would have been heavily bloodstained then the same must have applied to Parry. Apart from the smear of blood on the cash and the blood clot on the toilet bowl there was no blood upstairs. We would expect a burglar/murderer to leave extensive traces upstairs as he searched for cash but this wasn’t the case. This suggests that the person that went upstairs wasn’t covered in blood and so must have cleaned himself up beforehand. Who, of the two suspects, was more likely to have cleaned himself up thoroughly after killing Julia? Parry would have left the property alone, in the dark to go to his car. He may even have used the back gate and the alleyway to stay out of sight of neighbours. Then he would have then had plenty of time to go home or somewhere else private and clean himself up. Would he have wasted valuable time cleaning up? There was no risk as long as he made sure that he left no fingerprints. Wallace, on the other hand, knew that he was going to be using well lit trams, talking to conductors and others and so it would have been absolutely vital for him to clean himself up fully. So, to me, the lack of blood in the corridors, on the stairs and in the bedrooms points far more to Wallace than a burglar/murderer.
It’s true of course that no evidence of anyone washing away blood in the sink was found but I have to say that this was 1931. How rigorous were the tests compared to today’s? Also Wallace had his own chemistry lab. Is it impossible that he had some kind of chemical/bleach that would have cleaned the sink (and his hands) thoroughly? He might even have bought it especially for that purpose after doing some research on how to remove blood evidence?
Finally I’ve always been a little confused at why, when he re-entered the house later that night looking for Julia, the Johnston’s said that they saw a light go on in the lab? Surely the only room in the house that Wallace could have been certain not to have found Julia in? Could an explaination for this be that when Wallace entered the back kitchen he noticed that he’d left out the bottle of chemicals/bleach and so his first priority was to return it to the lab where no one would have suspected it’s use? This would explain why he went to the lab in priority over the Parlour.
I think it has to be at least possible that Wallace used something to clean the sink (and his hands?) The suggestion that, in haste, he left the bottle in the kitchen, is pure conjecture of course. But it does explain a couple of mysteries. In my opinion that is
Herlock, I agree with the jist of your post here. It seems someone had a rather good technique for eliminating blood tracking and containing what we keep hearing must have been a very messy scene to virtually one room. This indicated pre-planning to me. As you said, Cui Bono?
This is a summary of the forensic evidence revealed at the trial. According to Professor McFall there was blood on the furniture and walls of the room. In fact, he conceded that as a consequence of the first blow, which severed an artery, blood spurted all around the room:
Oliver: "You have pointed to the jury it has been spurting all round the room."
McFall: "That was from the first blow."
Under cross examination, Professor McFall conceded that the assailant would have got blood on his face and hair from the first blow, and on his feet and lower part of his legs from the subsequent blows that were struck whilst the victim was on the ground: the fact that he may have been wearing a Macintosh would have made no difference, as the garment would not have covered his feet or the lower part of his legs.
It's also worth noting that Dr McFall was an expert witness for the prosecution, so he had no reason to give an opinion favourable to Wallace.
For the defence Professor Bible made this observation as regards the amount of blood that would have covered the assailant:
"I should say that he could hardly escape being splattered and covered with blood all over."
The conclusions of the forensic experts are, of course, deeply problematic from the perspective of Wallace's candidacy, i.e. because we know that no blood was found either on his person or his clothing when examined by the police. And neither did any other witness, such as the tram passengers, notice any blood on the visible parts of his body, such as his face or hair.
Moreover, the forensic tests also conclusively demonstrate that the blood was not washed off in the sink or bath.
On that basis, as things stand, the forensic evidence would appear to exonerate Wallace as regards the murder of his wife.
John, you make some clever points here. I can't agree however that Wallace is exonerated of the murder based on the forensic evidence. There is a reason this is a classic; it is not that simple!
MacFall was incompetent. If anything his testimony was damaging to Wallace; he at first insisted on a time of 6 PM! He made so many errors that they would be too numerous too list. I believe Goodman (whose book I've come to think is rubbish) goes over them as well as that Chess and the Wallace Murder webpage.
Here is what I keep coming back to though and it is a point originally made by James Murphy: there was no blood tracked out of the parlor, no blood towards the exit. You would definitely expect this in the case of a high strung robber fleeing who had just committed a brutal murder that he wasn't planning on.
To my intuition, this suggests a method was employed to reduce blood splatter.
As sure as you are that Wallace could not have avoided substantial blood on his person, I am sure that whoever killed JW had a method to, if not avoid, reduce the mess of blood.