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** The Murder of Julia Wallace **

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  • #16
    Originally posted by ColdCaseJury View Post

    Get your thinking, but what are the hallmarks of the call that suggest a prank to you? Also, it is hard to see beyond Parry (if it was not Wallace) because someone had to know about Wallace and the chess club etc, especially as we believe Parry was prone to making prank calls and was a "con man" (this last point was confirmed by Leslie Williamson and others on the Radio City phone-ins in 1981).
    I’d suggest that the fact that the call was made from a phone box 400 yards from Wallace’s house might be a pointer to the caller trying to make it look like William which would have been unnecessary with a prank. I realise that had there not been any issue with the caller getting connected to the club then the box would never have been identified as the source of the call but would this fact have been common knowledge? Might not the caller have assumed that calls could all be traced? The police looked into this early on if I recall correctly only to be told that calls aren’t automatically recorded. So if the police weren’t aware of this is it reasonable to assume that the majority of the general public wouldn’t have been aware of it either?
    Regards

    Herlock




    “...A yellow fog swirls past the window-pane
    As night descends upon this fabled street:
    A lonely hansom splashes through the rain,
    The ghostly gas lamps fail at twenty feet.
    Here, though the world explode, these two survive,
    And it is always eighteen ninety-five.”

    Comment


    • #17
      Antony,

      I take your point on Parry, but this is not a case I feel 100% about anything.

      Don't know how I can explain the hallmarks better. Wallace would be done for if a curtain-twitcher or passer-by had seen him go to, be in, or come from the phone box. A robbery/murder related caller needed Wallace to receive and act upon the message. These imperatives did not apply to a prankster.

      Comment


      • #18
        Originally posted by Herlock Sholmes View Post
        Id suggest that the fact that the call was made from a phone box 400 yards from Wallaces house might be a pointer to the caller trying to make it look like William which would have been unnecessary with a prank.
        That is a fair point, but there could be other explanations. Maybe Parry had been toying vaguely with the idea and was reminded of it when he passed Wallace's house.

        Comment


        • #19
          Originally posted by NickB View Post

          That is a fair point, but there could be other explanations. Maybe Parry had been toying vaguely with the idea and was reminded of it when he passed Wallace's house.
          Could be Nick. I’m certainly not saying that a prank call was impossible as very little is it’s just the unlikeliness (for me) of it being unconnected. Two such unusual and extraordinary events.

          Why did PD James have to complicate things even more?
          Regards

          Herlock




          “...A yellow fog swirls past the window-pane
          As night descends upon this fabled street:
          A lonely hansom splashes through the rain,
          The ghostly gas lamps fail at twenty feet.
          Here, though the world explode, these two survive,
          And it is always eighteen ninety-five.”

          Comment


          • #20
            Have you read the book yet?

            I admit to diving straight in to the 'Conclusion' chapter! Correct me if I am wrong, but I can't see any new information there or any particular new insight.

            If everything in that chapter was known to Mark when he was a Wallace sceptic, that makes me even more intrigued to know why he changed his mind.

            Am pleased with the detail in the rest of the book though.

            Comment


            • #21
              I’ve got around 70 pages to go so I have got to the conclusion part yet. There is new information (to me anyway, I don’t know if Antony might disagree?) in the footnotes. Background info on the people involved for example.
              Last edited by Herlock Sholmes; 01-23-2021, 10:15 PM.
              Regards

              Herlock




              “...A yellow fog swirls past the window-pane
              As night descends upon this fabled street:
              A lonely hansom splashes through the rain,
              The ghostly gas lamps fail at twenty feet.
              Here, though the world explode, these two survive,
              And it is always eighteen ninety-five.”

              Comment


              • #22
                A question for Antony about which files have been seen by other researchers (including himself and WallaceWackedHer of course) because Mark makes the point that he’s seen all of the Police Files, Defence Records and Archive Files and there’s no mention of John Parkes at all.
                Regards

                Herlock




                “...A yellow fog swirls past the window-pane
                As night descends upon this fabled street:
                A lonely hansom splashes through the rain,
                The ghostly gas lamps fail at twenty feet.
                Here, though the world explode, these two survive,
                And it is always eighteen ninety-five.”

                Comment


                • #23
                  (if that is
                  Originally posted by Herlock Sholmes View Post

                  Could be Nick. I’m certainly not saying that a prank call was impossible as very little is it’s just the unlikeliness (for me) of it being unconnected. Two such unusual and extraordinary events.

                  Why did PD James have to complicate things even more?
                  Hi Herlock and Nick

                  I believe it unlikely that the call was a prank, but have to agree with Nick that it is not impossible. The reason I believe the call was not a prank and was related to the murder are the number of coincidences required if it was a prank.

                  If this was solely a prank call, all the following coincidences must have occurred:
                  a) the call happened to be made from a phone box very close to Wallace's home
                  b) it happened on the night Wallace actually attended the Chess club
                  c) it happened at a time which is around the time Wallace must have left his home to travel to the Chess club
                  (a, b and c combined (together with having the chess club number to hand) suggest to me it was a planned prank, if prank is what is was, and not a spur of the moment prank)
                  d) it happened on the night before poor Julia Wallace was murdered - and set the scene for her murder (which if it was a prank was presumably unintentional)
                  e) the murder occurred at a time which was aligned to the prank call (if that is what is was) timing.



                  Last edited by etenguy; 01-24-2021, 01:21 AM.

                  Comment


                  • #24
                    If the phone call was connected to the murder of Julia Wallace, then the obvious question to ask is who could have made the call. My list of possible callers is:

                    a) Wallace
                    b) Parry
                    c) A chess club member who arrived at the club at a similar or later time than Wallace that evening
                    d) Someone else who knew Wallace was attending the chess club that evening
                    e) Someone who was asked to make the call by one of the above

                    Comment


                    • #25
                      Originally posted by etenguy View Post
                      If the phone call was connected to the murder of Julia Wallace, then the obvious question to ask is who could have made the call. My list of possible callers is:

                      a) Wallace
                      b) Parry
                      c) A chess club member who arrived at the club at a similar or later time than Wallace that evening
                      d) Someone else who knew Wallace was attending the chess club that evening
                      e) Someone who was asked to make the call by one of the above
                      On point c)

                      Im surprised that Chandler hasn’t been looked into? (Maybe he has?) Wallace was due to play Chandler but he didn’t turn up. Wallace didn’t say that he’d made arrangements to play him but what if they had made arrangements? What if Chandler met Wallace somewhere and told him that he’d be there to play his game on the Monday evening?

                      Just a thought
                      Regards

                      Herlock




                      “...A yellow fog swirls past the window-pane
                      As night descends upon this fabled street:
                      A lonely hansom splashes through the rain,
                      The ghostly gas lamps fail at twenty feet.
                      Here, though the world explode, these two survive,
                      And it is always eighteen ninety-five.”

                      Comment


                      • #26
                        Originally posted by Herlock Sholmes View Post
                        On point c) Im surprised that Chandler hasn’t been looked into? (Maybe he has?)
                        I'm not sure we know much about Chandler at all... intriguing. Does anyone know whether any research been done on the elusive Chandler? Why was he a no-show? Perhaps, he was in bed with the flu, like Marsden!
                        Author of Cold Case Jury books: The Shark Arm Mystery (2020), Poisoned at the Priory (2020), Move to Murder (2018), Death of an Actress (2018), The Green Bicycle Mystery (2017) - "Armchair detectives will be delighted" - Publishers Weekly. And for something completely different - I'm the co-founder of Wow-Vinyl - celebrating the Golden Years of the British Single (1977-85)

                        Comment


                        • #27
                          Anyone at the chess club who overheard the discussions about Menlove Gardens would know when Wallace was likely to be out of the house.

                          Incidentally the book 'All roads lead to Lennon' (Kirkland) includes a history of the Menlove group of roads.

                          Comment


                          • #28
                            Originally posted by etenguy View Post
                            If the phone call was connected to the murder of Julia Wallace, then the obvious question to ask is who could have made the call. My list of possible callers is:

                            a) Wallace
                            b) Parry
                            c) A chess club member who arrived at the club at a similar or later time than Wallace that evening
                            d) Someone else who knew Wallace was attending the chess club that evening
                            e) Someone who was asked to make the call by one of the above


                            Obviously the field covered by point (d) is rather broad. It didn’t have to be a chess club member; only someone who knew that Wallace played chess and where. Most likely someone who had seen Wallace that Monday and had learned, in casual conversation or by asking the right questions, that Wallace intended to play chess that evening, unlike the previous five evenings that he’d missed.

                            Is there any significance to the point Herlock mentioned, that the phone call was only recorded because the caller had difficulty connecting to the café where the chess club met? What kind of “difficulty” exactly? As with the Ripper, there are always interesting historical details of this kind about the social and technological environment of the age. Though I could just be wrong, I’m guessing there were no rotary dial telephones in common use in Britain in 1931. You just picked up the receiver and waited for the operator to say “Number, please.”

                            Did the caller not know the number of the café and have to ask the operator? Was that the problem? How widespread were telephone directories in public kiosks back then? Even if they were, that didn’t mean the caller had one to hand in that particular box. People did the most ghastly things to public telephone directories, ripping pages out and whatnot. I recall checking into a hotel on a business trip and picking up the Yellow Pages in my room to find a good place for dinner that evening, only to discover that some unmentionable SOB had torn out the entire section on Restaurants and taken it away!

                            That immortal humorist of the 1950s era, Paul Jennings, wrote a hilarious essay titled Far Speaking on telephoning from public boxes. He opened with the words ”When we have pulled on three sides and at last found the one that opens,” and ended ”I should choose E to K, L to R, and S to Z to replace three of the four A to D’s that are always in my box.” If our mystery caller just didn’t have the café’s number to hand, does that suggest he was not a member of the chess club?

                            If he wasn’t, no doubt the field could be narrowed down to Wallace’s known associates in other spheres, especially by way of business. A customer? Somebody at the Pru office? I’m afraid I’m a novice at this case, so I don’t know basic details like whether Wallace went into the office that Monday or whether he just worked from home. I think I’m right in saying it wouldn’t be Parry, because I understand Parry had left the Pru by that time, though it could of course be Parry for other reasons. But at least someone who had regular dealings with Wallace, inside or outside of chess, was more likely to have had some (as yet undefined) reason for doing the murder. And possibly the “chess connection” has been overemphasized.

                            While I apologize because the following adds nothing whatsoever of substance to the discussion, I can’t resist quoting this passage from a celebrated novel published five years before the Wallace murder, because the thinking behind it seems relevant anyway and may be appreciated for that reason alone:

                            “I will take you the way that I have travelled myself. Step by step you shall accompany me, and see for yourself that all the facts point indisputably to one person. Now, to begin with, there were two facts and a little discrepancy in time which especially attracted my attention. The first fact was the telephone call. [...]

                            “I satisfied myself that the call could not have been sent by anyone in the house, yet I was convinced that it was amongst those present on the fatal evening that I had to look for my criminal. Therefore I concluded that the telephone call must have been sent by an accomplice. I was not quite pleased with that deduction, but I let it stand for the minute.

                            “I next examined the motive for the call. That was difficult. I could only get at it by judging its result...”

                            Comment


                            • #29
                              @Gordon
                              The public telephone box in 1931 would be the Giles Gilbert Scott variety: officially retired in 1936 but replaced by thousands of red boxes much like we used to see on the streets, and in some places they are still there.
                              They did have dials. They had a large black box, still in use in the 50s as I recall. On the front was a large silver button, labelled A, with a large circle around it. On the right hand side was a button B. (When a child this was a source of amusement. You put in 4d and dialled your doctor. On an answer you pressed button B and got your pennies back for another go. No not often: it wears.) In the case of this caller, they dialled the operator (0 in those days) and said they had pressed A but not got through and there must be a fault. It later transpired there was no fault, and the caller must have pressed B and bluffed the operator. Of course, if a chess player wanted to have a record of a call being made this was a good ply. If a prankster, a good way of making a fool of someone at absolutely zero cost. But why Wallace would wish a record of the all important call being made not from Menlove anything but from a box yards from his home is imponderable. This is probably why James thought it a prankster, but which provided Wallace with a ready made scenario for an alibi.

                              Personally I dont see Wallace as a violent, cold bloodied murderer. He himself later said if he wanted to kill Julia he would have poisoned her. He was an expert chemist. And to answer DJA'a question: nobody has put forward any reasonable motive for murder, including the prosecution. Among the suggestions:
                              - he was gay and Julia was about to out him (no evidence apart from an off remark that he was sexually odd - more likely into whipping)
                              - Julia was declining and becoming an embarrasment
                              - he wanted to live with someone else (but when he could, he didnt)
                              - he wanted freedom to grow roses (sorry that is his joke)

                              And as an insurance salesman, he didnt have a large policy on Julia. Madness.

                              I sit afence on this. If Wallace was involved it was with an accomplice. If he wasnt I would look at Parry, Cairns, or possibly the Johnsons.
                              HTH

                              Comment


                              • #30
                                Originally posted by Dupin View Post
                                @Gordon
                                The public telephone box in 1931 would be the Giles Gilbert Scott variety: officially retired in 1936 but replaced by thousands of red boxes much like we used to see on the streets, and in some places they are still there.... I sit afence on this. If Wallace was involved it was with an accomplice. If he wasnt I would look at Parry, Cairns, or possibly the Johnsons.
                                HTH
                                Thanks for your post. For my book, I researched the telephone aspect in depth. The phone is (almost) as you describe, but I'm sure there was no dial (as being able to dial a number). The receiver was on the left. Coins were inserted at the top. Button B was on the right and the return shute at the bottom. It was a manual exchange - so the caller had to go through the operator - this happened when the receiver was picked up. But you are absolutely correct about the scam. The call would not have been logged had the caller not made "a complaint" of not receiving a reply. There was no evidence of a fault, as you say, apart from a faulty overhead bulb.

                                However, I must point out that Wallace probably did not know the call would be logged and hence might have used this phone box. But he was used to making calls. As I point out in my book, if he inadvertently pushed B (and the coins returned down the shute) he would have surely said something other than "Operator, I have pushed button A but I have not had my correspondent yet". I think we can rule out a fault that prevented the coins returning because (a) the second operator asked him to push B to return his coins and (b) the engineer never said he found a fault (apart from the light bulb).

                                The upshot. Although not conclusive, it looks like someone was trying to scam a call. However, I do not think we can infer from a scam call (if it was) that it was a prank call. Rather, it tells us something about the person in the phone box. If I'm correct, I'm fairly sure the caller would not be Wallace. However, I'm equally sure others will take a different view.



                                Author of Cold Case Jury books: The Shark Arm Mystery (2020), Poisoned at the Priory (2020), Move to Murder (2018), Death of an Actress (2018), The Green Bicycle Mystery (2017) - "Armchair detectives will be delighted" - Publishers Weekly. And for something completely different - I'm the co-founder of Wow-Vinyl - celebrating the Golden Years of the British Single (1977-85)

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