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** The Murder of Julia Wallace **

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  • Originally posted by ColdCaseJury View Post
    Wow, I literally go for a long walk (finishing off The Ridgeway) and there are pages of comment! There's more heat than light. Let's go back to 1) the call and then 2) the murder.

    1) Wallace cannot be eliminated from making the call the call. Ditto for Parry. They are both suspects.

    2) Some people eliminate Wallace from the murder (time constraints, lack of blood etc), although I think it is possible he did it. Parry could not have killed (given Olivia Brine). However, an accomplice could have.

    So, there are two basic theories. I think Accomplice is the leading non-Wallace theory and Wallace alone is the leading opposite theory.

    Now, contra Murphy and Russell, the Appeal Court Judges did not believe any piece of evidence could only be interpreted in terms of Wallace's guilt. Neither did they find the set of circumstantial evidence was sufficient to convict with the certainty that is necessary BUT that does not mean he was actually innocent.

    As husband with a murdered wife in his parlour, Wallace starts with the highest prior probability (about 60-65% based on Home Office stats I got). This means that if you think the EVIDENCE points equally to innocence or gulit, your verdict, should be Wallace with a posterior probability of 60-65%. If you think the evidence points to Wallace, then your level of belief will increase (say to 85%). If, as I do, you interpret the evidence in Wallace's favour, then the posterior probability might drop to, say, 45%, meaning you find Wallace innocent, but it's a close call.

    However, unless you make extreme judgements, e.g. it was impossible for Wallace to have killed his wife in the time available (say) then Wallace will always be in the frame.

    On Hussey, my view is that he clearly thinks Parry was the culprit (sneak thief) and did not involve an accomplice. It is an important book in that he goes into to detail how Parry might have done it. Then comes the police file (Brine), and then Rod.

    Sorry to be the dull one...

    P.S. You can eliminate Wallace if you accept Parkes with 100% confidence. But as it was not fully corroborated I cannot see how this can be done.
    I don’t think that anyone taking a reasonable view could dispute that assessment Antony. Individual interpretation is all when trying to decide who we believe the likeliest killer to have been.
    Regards

    Herlock Sholmes

    Comment


    • Originally posted by ColdCaseJury View Post
      Wow, I literally go for a long walk (finishing off The Ridgeway) and there are pages of comment! There's more heat than light. Let's go back to 1) the call and then 2) the murder.

      1) Wallace cannot be eliminated from making the call the call. Ditto for Parry. They are both suspects.

      2) Some people eliminate Wallace from the murder (time constraints, lack of blood etc), although I think it is possible he did it. Parry could not have killed (given Olivia Brine). However, an accomplice could have.

      So, there are two basic theories. I think Accomplice is the leading non-Wallace theory and Wallace alone is the leading opposite theory.

      Now, contra Murphy and Russell, the Appeal Court Judges did not believe any piece of evidence could only be interpreted in terms of Wallace's guilt. Neither did they find the set of circumstantial evidence was sufficient to convict with the certainty that is necessary BUT that does not mean he was actually innocent.

      As husband with a murdered wife in his parlour, Wallace starts with the highest prior probability (about 60-65% based on Home Office stats I got). This means that if you think the EVIDENCE points equally to innocence or gulit, your verdict, should be Wallace with a posterior probability of 60-65%. If you think the evidence points to Wallace, then your level of belief will increase (say to 85%). If, as I do, you interpret the evidence in Wallace's favour, then the posterior probability might drop to, say, 45%, meaning you find Wallace innocent, but it's a close call.

      However, unless you make extreme judgements, e.g. it was impossible for Wallace to have killed his wife in the time available (say) then Wallace will always be in the frame.

      On Hussey, my view is that he clearly thinks Parry was the culprit (sneak thief) and did not involve an accomplice. It is an important book in that he goes into to detail how Parry might have done it. Then comes the police file (Brine), and then Rod.

      Sorry to be the dull one...

      P.S. You can eliminate Wallace if you accept Parkes with 100% confidence. But as it was not fully corroborated I cannot see how this can be done.
      Dear CCJ

      Nothing dull about a great assessment of the current state of play concerning who killed Julia Wallace. I'm looking forward to reading your up-dated book and understanding the reasons you interpret the evidence in Wallace's favour.

      Comment


      • Originally posted by etenguy View Post
        I am not sure Qualtrough was believable as an independent suspect, he would be seen as an imaginary person who was either Wallace or another viable suspect. I think Wallace needed to make a real person seem a more likely suspect than himself if he was to gain some sympathy and perhaps a less vilified life. Parry was an ideal foil for a guilty Wallace, even an unshakable alibi would only have people talking about what his level of involvement with the murder was. The conversation would change and Wallace would no longer be the only and obvious person suspected. If an acquittal by senior judges did not convince everyone of Wallace's innocence, then an alibi from a rogue would be even less accepted.
        Hi All,

        I finally caught up with this thread!

        I do think etenguy makes a good point here.

        Wallace very nearly hanged for his wife's murder, and when he was acquitted on appeal, it wasn't because he was found to be innocent, or because anyone else was proved to be guilty. It was because the evidence against him wasn't strong enough to be sure of a safe conviction.

        We can all read between the lines when it is said that nobody else is being sought in connection with a particular murder, and whether or not Wallace killed his wife, I doubt he'd have liked the general public to continue believing he narrowly got away with doing so.

        IF he did it, the whole Qualtrough plan would have been thought up as a distraction, to provide a criminal who wanted Wallace out of the way, as a plausible alternative to a husband who wanted his wife out of the way. In either scenario, Wallace would have had a credible reason for being absent when Julia died. The criminal would have had no choice but to give Wallace a genuine alibi, if he had sent him on the wild goose chase. But Wallace would have had to make the best of it, if he had sent himself, after murdering Julia.

        All a guilty Wallace had to do, in essence, to plant the reasonable doubt which eventually saved his neck, if not his reputation, was to show that someone other than himself appeared to have had the means, motive and opportunity to commit this crime while he, the man of the house, was elsewhere. Wallace didn't have to prove the caller was not himself; only that it need not have been.

        Clearly, if Wallace had been found innocent, the only reasonable conclusion would have been that the phone call was a ruse by the real killer. But as Wallace had no way to prove his innocence, the mud was likely to stick for the rest of his days and beyond - as we know it did to a large extent - if he made no further attempt to claim that Qualtrough was a real person and therefore the real murderer. As we also know, he didn't do badly in that regard, despite Parry's alibi.

        Summing up, regardless of his guilt or innocence, I could see Wallace's ego getting in the way of letting sleeping dogs lie. If guilty, he'd be keeping up a pretence he had started; if innocent, he'd be damned if he didn't try to pin it on the man he felt was most likely to be responsible.

        Love,

        Caz
        X
        "Comedy is simply a funny way of being serious." Peter Ustinov


        Comment


        • Hello everyone, I have recently joined, and this is my first post. I am very interested in the Ripper topics, but first, the social chat section caught my eye, and in particular, the baffling case of Julia Wallace.
          I have read the following books so far on that subject -
          Brown, Goodman, Wilkes, Gannon, Russell. (In that order.)
          I have also picked up a copy of the Murder Casebook 25 (and also Murder in Mind 64), and have read the solution section on the JWM Foundation website.
          I have a fairly long post written out in draft form, but first of all, I wanted to see if I am able to successfully post a message to the site, so I have a much shorter first post instead -
          Can someone please explain roughly how the sunbeam gas fire works, in terms of what is needed to be done in order to turn it on, very roughly how long each step occurs (eg gas regulation), and what position they need to be in for each step (eg kneeling down to the left, or middle, etc). Thanks a lot, I appreciate it.

          Comment


          • Welcome to Casebook,

            I didn’t notice that there had been a post on the Wallace case thread. I can’t help you on the fire and I can’t recall how much info on that particular aspect of the case is on these threads? The guy that runs the JWM Foundation (I won’t mention his actual name because I don’t know if he wants it known?) might have more information though as his interest in the case is ongoing and is always looking for new information. He used to post on here under the name WallaceWackedHer. If you contact him via his website he might have more information on how the fire actually worked. I’ve certainly drifted away from the case so l haven’t kept up to date on any possible new information. Sorry I can’t help on the sunbeam and sorry it took so long for you to get a reply.
            Regards

            Herlock Sholmes

            Comment


            • Originally posted by LookingBackInTime View Post
              Hello everyone, I have recently joined, and this is my first post. I am very interested in the Ripper topics, but first, the social chat section caught my eye, and in particular, the baffling case of Julia Wallace.
              I have read the following books so far on that subject -
              Brown, Goodman, Wilkes, Gannon, Russell. (In that order.)
              I have also picked up a copy of the Murder Casebook 25 (and also Murder in Mind 64), and have read the solution section on the JWM Foundation website.
              I have a fairly long post written out in draft form, but first of all, I wanted to see if I am able to successfully post a message to the site, so I have a much shorter first post instead -
              Can someone please explain roughly how the sunbeam gas fire works, in terms of what is needed to be done in order to turn it on, very roughly how long each step occurs (eg gas regulation), and what position they need to be in for each step (eg kneeling down to the left, or middle, etc). Thanks a lot, I appreciate it.
              I should have quoted your post with my longer reply so I’ll do it know so that you can see that you’ve had a response when you log in.
              Regards

              Herlock Sholmes

              Comment


              • Originally posted by LookingBackInTime View Post
                Hello everyone, I have recently joined, and this is my first post. I am very interested in the Ripper topics, but first, the social chat section caught my eye, and in particular, the baffling case of Julia Wallace.
                I have read the following books so far on that subject -
                Brown, Goodman, Wilkes, Gannon, Russell. (In that order.)
                I have also picked up a copy of the Murder Casebook 25 (and also Murder in Mind 64), and have read the solution section on the JWM Foundation website.
                I have a fairly long post written out in draft form, but first of all, I wanted to see if I am able to successfully post a message to the site, so I have a much shorter first post instead -
                Can someone please explain roughly how the sunbeam gas fire works, in terms of what is needed to be done in order to turn it on, very roughly how long each step occurs (eg gas regulation), and what position they need to be in for each step (eg kneeling down to the left, or middle, etc). Thanks a lot, I appreciate it.
                welcome to the nut house Looking! : )
                Yes the wallace case is a conundrum for sure and im no expert on the case like Herlock and the others, but I lean pretty heavily that wallace did it.
                "Is all that we see or seem
                but a dream within a dream?"

                -Edgar Allan Poe


                "...the man and the peaked cap he is said to have worn
                quite tallies with the descriptions I got of him."

                -Frederick G. Abberline

                Comment


                • Thanks a lot for the warm welcome! I wanted to float some minor ideas that I have not come across in the books I have read on the case so far. It may very well be that these ideas can be easily dismissed (and as rubbish too), but I just wanted to see if any might generate some debate. For example, someone might say "that idea's rubbish, but following on from your idea, how about [this better idea], because it makes more sense.". I'm happy with that. I've reached the point in studying the case where I can't think of anything new - still being confused about an overall 'solution' to it. If these minor ideas spark better ones, then that would be great!

                  Please note that I have sprinkled my new ideas in to the existing framework that is Rod Stringer's 2008 distraction burglary theory. (The ideas don't mix well though, so if used together, they will cause contradictions/descrepencies.) As a very quick summary, the ideas are:

                  1. The intruder(s) may have visited twice on the evening of the murder.
                  2. The attack could have occured when Julia was turning off the fire.
                  3. One intruder may have entered via the back gate, having been unlocked by another intruder.

                  Also, I have split up my post in to separate posts, because I didn't want to post one very long post, as this would look unwieldy.

                  (I am assuming an/the iron bar had nothing to do with the murder, because forensics indicate that the weapon had a large surface.)

                  If a distraction burglary went wrong, rather than extreme violence occuring immediately, I wonder if Julia was able to muster up the courage to tell the shamefaced bungling thief (perhaps with an accomplice) to leave the property? If their motive was to rob, and not to rob and brutally kill, then they might not have been armed at that point with any kind of "distinctive" weapon. But could one of them have returned soon afterwards (having thought things over with an accomplice/s), this time armed (thus bringing a distinctive murder weapon in to the house), at first to intimidate, but then ultimately to kill Julia?

                  The cashbox was looted, and the accomplice/s in the parlour could be described to the police and convincingly associated with the robbery, so an updated motive on returning would be to intimidate and/or kill. If by that stage, time was running out for the would-be thieves (in terms of William's imminent return), perhaps that might explain why the house wasn't ransacked of all of its valuables?

                  On the visitor(s) return to the house, he/they might ask to be readmitted in a ruse to "apologise, explain things fully, and to smooth things over" regarding the broken cabinet door perhaps? (As the cashbox was in its correct position, it may not have been obvious to Julia at that time that it had been targeted.) This idea would explain the use of a "premeditated" weapon brought in to the house, with evidence also supporting the theory that a botched burglary had taken place. Perhaps a tool was obtained from Parry's car? (I understand that Parry's father falsely claimed that Parry was mending his broken down car on that night. I think the chance of Parry having a 'weapon-like' tool in his car is something to be considered. William mentions in the John Bull article (1932) that he thought the weapon may have been a spanner.) And could it be that it was Julia who had began to turn things off in the parlour, having first shooed off the initial visitor(s)?

                  To summarise, I am trying to 'link together' the premeditated weapon element with its 'opposing' distraction burglary gone wrong element, in an attempt to unify the incongruity of the case's evidence having an odd blend of the two. (Sorry about that mouthful!)

                  Flo Johnston (neighbour) said that at first Julia's hand was warm, and then only a short time later, noted that it had cooled. John Gannon suggests in his book that because of these remarks, the murder may have occured later on in the evening than is generally considered. (The Johnstons noted hearing a couple of thuds as late as about 8:25/8:30PM, and Mr Gannon speculates that a time of death could have been as late as 8:30PM.)

                  But a premeditated attack at a later time seems riskier, unexpected and unplanned, seemingly deviating from a "Plan A" type scenario, being just to rob by stealth - as evidence suggests that a distraction burglary had taken place, but had gone wrong. (If it was staged, it was staged oddly and unconvincingly. Mr Gannon suggests that when William first entered the kitchen at about 8:45PM, he broke the cabinet door to fake the burglary because Marsden forgot to fake the scene correctly, but Flo and John were waiting outside, and regarding acoustics in the still of the evening air, wouldn't it be likely that they would hear such a sound?)

                  If the murderer spent additional time to leave the property and then to return, this fits in with an unexpectedly later in time attack scenario, and consequently, I wonder if the front door was 'bolted' (throwing the safety latch in to the closed position?) as a hastily implemented timing precaution, in anticipation of William's imminent return?

                  As Parry had an appointment to keep with Lily that evening, and supposedly spoke to someone at about 8:55PM about a birthday party invitation, could it have been just Marsden (or a bumbling partly intoxicated thug) who returned to the house on his own, to "sort things out", and Parry only found out about the 'worse case scenario' after he left Lily's house, after 11PM, when the two (or three of them) met up to discuss the situation more fully?

                  If Lily was correct in saying that she did not detect anything unusual about Parry during the latter part of the evening (9 - 11PM), why did Parkes say that Parry was so agitated at around 11:30/midnight? Why would Parry be that agitated approximately 3.5 hours after the murder, but seemingly so, not before? I'm guessing that Parry was shocked when he was informed of the death, perhaps minutes before he arrived at the garage, because I suspect he quite liked her.

                  Also, during the distraction burglary phase, when one person left the parlour to say use the outside lavatory, could that person then have unlocked the back gate, allowing another intruder in to the yard, for that person to either hide and wait, then enter the kitchen, or enter the kitchen with the person who unlocked the gate, to then stay behind in the kitchen (to rob), while the first person returned to the parlour? This method would allow the person asking to use the lavatory to leave the parlour and to return promptly, thus lowering suspicion.

                  End of post 1, post 2 follows...

                  Comment


                  • Post 2 of 3:
                    I'd like to guess at the possible order of events that may have occured on the murder night at number 29, and in doing so, some of the following elements contradict the ideas already posted above. I've done it this way, just to float some more/alternative ideas. ("We all have ideas." WHW.) Again, I've used Rod Stringer's existing 2008 distraction burglary theory as a framework in which to work from.

                    Two were admitted to the house (using the Qualtrough pretext ruse), and were shown in to the parlour. One of them asked to use the outside lavatory, leaving the other behind to effectively keep her in that room, or to make her return to it fairly promptly, so as to not leave the other alone in that room for too long. (I am assuming however that it is possible to use the outside lavatory during the hours after sunset.)

                    Once the person finished "using" the loo, he unbolts the back yard gate, allowing an extra intruder in to the yard, then promptly returns to the parlour, with the extra intruder staying behind in the kitchen. (This assumes that Julia is not hanging around by the kitchen door waiting for the first person to finish using the loo, leaving the other person unattended in the parlour. If Julia does do this however, then a workaround might be that the extra intruder has a duplicate key to use on the kitchen door, which is all too convenient I know! (I have an alternative idea about the use of a duplicate key, posted further down, which I hope is less weak, and it involves Mr Johnston.)

                    The extra intruder attempts to rob the cash box by stealth, but fails to do this quietly, and Julia is alerted to the sound of the thief accidentally breaking the cabinet door. (Might this noise take sufficient precedent over the sound of two coins hitting the floor?) The extra intruder then flees with the money from the cashbox, not showing his face but immediately exiting via the kitchen door, and out through the back yard gate. A discussion ensues between Julia and the initial two visitors as to what may have happened (the only obvious problematic sign being the broken cabinet door; I am assuming she misses or perhaps momentarily ignores the two coins on the floor), and given this situation, Julia musters up the courage to tell them both to leave. The visitors comply; they are not armed at that point (with a weapon having a large headed surface).

                    Julia flicks the safety latch on the front door for good measure after shooing the pair away, then gets William's mac, puts it around her shoulders, and goes out in to the cold yard to bolt the back gate, but still feeling the cold, keeps the mac on as she goes back to the parlour to gather her thoughts, before starting to turn things off in there. (At this point in time, the back gate is bolted, and the front door has its safety catch on, giving Julia a bit more piece of mind. She anticipates William's return soon, say within the next half an hour. I am assuming that the kitchen door has not been re-bolted however. Perhaps Julia was distracted by the sight of the broken cabinet door? Also, Julia may have decided to leave the evidence untouched, for the half an hour wait, to show William exactly what has occured.)

                    Somewhere outside, a discussion ensues among the failed thieves, and it is decided that one should return to the house, to "sort things out". Maybe the person who "draws the short straw" to do this is the bungling person who did not show their face to Julia? That person finds the back gate bolted though, and perhaps with the fortitude of having drunk some alcohol beforehand (which may have caused the failed robbery), audaciously enters the yard via an unbolted neighbouring back gate on that street, and scales over the yard wall(s) to get to the yard of number 29. (In a desire to "sort things out", and to make amends for fouling up the burglary, he takes some audacious/assertive risks.) I read that the window cleaner/s were able to move their ladders from one yard to another over the dividing yard walls. I am making an assumption that it is possible for someone to also move themselves over these dividing walls too.

                    Once in the yard of number 29, the intruder may have unlocked the kitchen door using a duplicate key. (All too convenient I know! The intruder then goes in to the parlour and attacks Julia by surprise, who is situated kneeling down to the right of the fire, and has begun to turn things off in there. It's been noted that an attack on Julia would not likely have occured in the parlour when she was kneeling down to attend to the fire, because it was customary to light the fire first, and then to draw the blinds afterwards, and so an attack at that stage would be somewhat visible to the outside street through the net curtains on the front window, and consequently too risky/rushed. But what if the fire was being attended to, in order to put it out? The blinds would be closed at that point, and an attack would then be possible, without it being seen from the outside. (An alternative and simpler theory/idea would be that a lone guest simply waited for this convenient situation to arise, and strike then.)

                    In the John Bull article, William suggests that when Julia was first struck, the gas fire had just been lit, and the gas flow had not been regulated. However, Mr Gannon suggests in his book that the fire had been on for a while, and also, I believe that there is forensic evidence on Julia's skirt to indicate that the ceramic component of the fireplace which came in to contact with the skirt was very hot (and so the fireplace had been on for a while). Could it be that the specific looking scorch marks on Julia's skirt were as a result of the skirt material momentarily pressing quite hard against a very hot but unlit part of the fireplace? If the gas fire was on, unregulated, and had just been lit, would that cause a different/more of a messy indistinct looking burn mark on the skirt, rather than distinct looking scorch marks that were discovered? (I have no idea. I'm just floating this as a minor idea for the purposes of debate.)

                    Following on from the idea above that the fireplace was very hot and had just that moment been put out, what about the unblemished underskirt? As there were no burn marks on it, would that be indicative of the fire having no flame, just very powerful heat, which might not cause scorch or burn marks to appear on it? How about the mac's waterproof coating material? Might it just melt rather than burn in this situation? Could that explain why the room wasn't filled with smoke and tiny particles of burnt macintosh?

                    Say if you have an initial powerful strike to the back of the head (on the left side), with evidence suggesting that the fireplace was hot, would a worthwhile scenario to consider be that Julia was kneeling down next to it to put it out? Macfall noted that the first blow was struck with terrific force, causing a terrible injury. If Julia had been pushed/shoved first, and then struck, would the attacker be essentially dealing with a moving target, and be less likely to inflict that kind of terrible injury? Might that kind of injury be more likely to occur if the target (head) wasn't moving? (Again, this is just conjecture for debate.) When dealing with the fire in terms of shutting it off, Julia may have been unable at that point to detect/react to rapid footfalls on the hearth rug of an approaching attacker.

                    During the trial, Mr Justice Wright favoured a scenario in which Julia was kneeling down to attend to the fire when first struck (but this was assumed to be to light it). He favoured this scenario to that of Macfall's idea that Julia was sitting to the left of the fireplace. Mr Russell mentions in his book that a "considerable quantity of brain matter" was discovered in the right hand side of the room.

                    End of post 2, post 3 follows...

                    Comment


                    • Post 3 of 3:
                      (This isn't a new minor idea, but just a very minor thought about the 'stocky man'.) On the murder night, in the vacinity of the Wallace home, and at the time that Wallace was returning to that area, a stocky man was reported asking someone for an address that didn't exist. What's the best explanation currently available to explain this event, because it feels like it's part of the case. Is it possible to "reverse engineer" this event, in an attempt to see the devil in the detail? -

                      Lily Hall spotted a stocky man talking to another man, who she id'd as Wallace.
                      In Mr Gannon's book, he argues that the two men were Wallace and Marsden.
                      Several appeals by the police were made for these men to come forward, but none did.
                      And regarding fictional concepts -

                      1. One of William's diary entries refers to a fictional book by a fictional author, which is the intruiging "Slay J" reference (Gannon), written about a week before the murder.
                      2. There's the fictional Qualtrough name, and fictional address for him (which seems Marsden-like, because Marsden had a Qualtrough on his books.)
                      3. A stocky man asks about a fictional address on the night of the murder.

                      If the stocky man was Marsden, did he or William quick-wittedly realise that someone, Lily Hall, had spotted him and Wallace talking, then decided to quickly ask any passer-by for any old address (which unfortunately happened not to exist) to make his encounter with Wallace look like he was merely asking Wallace for directions? Had Marsden chosen this tactic, because the use of a fictional address was at the heart of Wallace's plan and this kind of thing was currently on his mind? (I don't recall Mr Gannon giving an explanation for the stocky man asking about a fake address though!)

                      Just to finish things off, I'd like to apply my wild speculating methods to the Johnston theory. I wanted to use all of the ideas posted above in another alternative way, to include different people, but still keep to the same ideas that a duplicate key was used (Mr Johnston's), and that the yard gate was unbolted, and that a distraction burglary was attempted, and that a premeditated murder weapon was subsequently brought in to the house, and that Julia was attacked turning off the fire.

                      (I understand there's infomation about this intriguing theory in Tom Slemen's book, but I haven't read it yet, and so I'll make this brief, just in case it's already been covered and better too!)

                      Say at around 7:30 - 8:00PM, Mr Johnston knocks on the Wallace's door. He explains to Julia that he and Flo are leavig number 31 imminently, and wondered if he could have a chat about things before he left. (They were due to leave number 31 that night.) Assumption - the Wallace's may not have had prior knowledge of this. Julia agrees, and prepares the parlour for guests. Mr Johnston arrives soon afterwards, and is invited in to the parlour. He explains to Julia that Flo is too busy with packing. He enquires as to the whereabouts of William, and Julia explains about William's trip. Assumption - the Johnston's may not have had prior knowledge of this. (And so, a scenerio in which P.D.James' theory begins to emerge, in which the infamous phone call is simply a prank call which is, in essence, a 'mutually exclusive' occurance to the murder.)

                      Having been told by Julia that William is away on business, Mr Johnston forms a cunning plan. At some stage during their chat together, the topic of Puss the cat was discussed, as Julia was known to be worried about its whereabouts. He makes an excuse to momentarily leave number 29, to do something or other at number 31, but will be right back. He requests to leave via the kitchen door, rather than the front door, because he says to Julia that he thought he saw the cat outside there. He explains that he will take another look for the cat, and if possible, retrieve it for her. (This is done to get the kitchen door unbolted.) When he is back inside number 31, he explains to someone there the situation in hand, and that the kitchen of number 29 is currently unoccupied, with the yard gate unbolted, and the kitchen door locked but unbolted, and that if he uses his duplicate key, he can gain entry and loot the cash box, then make a swift exit. (Perhaps at some stage in the past, Mr Johnston surreptiously tested his key, and found it to work on number 29's kitchen door.)

                      Mr Johnston then returns to the company of Julia in the parlour of number 29, and a little while later, the fateful event takes place in which a thief fails to loot the cashbox quietly in the kitchen. To cut a long story short, Julia tells Mr Johnston to leave, having perhaps insinuated to him that the break in may have been connected with his presence. (Julia puts two and two together about such issues regarding the use of the kitchen door, etc.)

                      Assumption - at this point, and also at no point afterwards, is Flo made aware of what has happened. Mr Johnston returns to number 31, and a discussion ensues between him and his thief associate. Either one of them then takes a weapon from number 31 (eg one of Mr Johnston's work spanners), and goes back to attack Julia who is in the parlour turning things off, and the attack is carried out in the same way as outlined in my posts above. However, this does rely on the awkward assumption that Julia has not at that point in time rebolted the kitchen door!

                      If the attacker was 'based' at number 31 at the time of the murder, it could be that it wasn't necessarily Mr Johnston's idea. (And I think Flo was clueless about what had happened.)

                      Comment


                      • I'd just like to include an alternative segment regarding the 'Johnston scenario' which I posted at the end of my previous post above -

                        When Mr Johnston momentarily leaves number 29 to go back to number 31, he suggests the following to an accomplice -
                        "I'll say to Julia, I've just seen the cat, and it's in the entryway. While we're out there, you climb over the yard wall, and get the cash."

                        So, Mr Johnston returns to number 29, and says to Julia that he's just seen the cat! Julia quickly grabs William's mac, and they exit via the kitchen door, leaving it unlocked, and go to the entryway. While they are there, an accomplice scales the yard wall (from 31 to 29), and attempts to steal the cash, but breaks the cabinet door. That sound and the broken door is highly incriminating, and Mr Johnston knows that he's been rumbled.

                        This segment does away with the requirement for a duplicate key, and ensures that the kitchen door is unbolted. I think it also includes a more realistic use of William's mac. It doesn't necessarily require Mr Johnston to leave by the kitchen door (to have it unbolted), to momentarily return to number 31, and it also gets Julia further out of the way than if she were to be in the parlour. Plus the evidence surrounding the use of the parlour for guests still seems valid.

                        Comment


                        • Originally posted by LookingBackInTime View Post
                          Post 2 of 3:
                          But what if the fire was being attended to, in order to put it out? The blinds would be closed at that point, and an attack would then be possible, without it being seen from the outside... In the John Bull article, William suggests that when Julia was first struck, the gas fire had just been lit, and the gas flow had not been regulated. However, Mr Gannon suggests in his book that the fire had been on for a while, and also, I believe that there is forensic evidence on Julia's skirt to indicate that the ceramic component of the fireplace which came in to contact with the skirt was very hot (and so the fireplace had been on for a while). Could it be that the specific looking scorch marks on Julia's skirt were as a result of the skirt material momentarily pressing quite hard against a very hot but unlit part of the fireplace? If the gas fire was on, unregulated, and had just been lit, would that cause a different/more of a messy indistinct looking burn mark on the skirt, rather than distinct looking scorch marks that were discovered? (I have no idea. I'm just floating this as a minor idea for the purposes of debate.)

                          Following on from the idea above that the fireplace was very hot and had just that moment been put out, what about the unblemished underskirt? As there were no burn marks on it, would that be indicative of the fire having no flame, just very powerful heat, which might not cause scorch or burn marks to appear on it? How about the mac's waterproof coating material? Might it just melt rather than burn in this situation? Could that explain why the room wasn't filled with smoke and tiny particles of burnt macintosh?
                          Welcome to the thread LookingBackInTime. There is much to go through in your posts, so I've picked out one point that caught my eye: the gas fire. In Move To Murder (second edition), I raise the possibility of the gas fire being on for sometime and Julia was attacked when she attempted to put it out. I think we have three possibilities with the fire:

                          1) It had only just been turned on by Julia (i.e. unregulated flame but relatively cool surround), and the killer struck
                          2) It had been on for some time (i.e. the flame was regulated) and the killer struck
                          3) It had been on for some time and just turned off by Julia (i.e. no naked flame but exceptionally hot surround) and the killer struck

                          I think (1) is consistent with all scenarios (including Wallace) but I think (2) and (3) are less consistent with Wallace for reasons I stated in my book. Unfortunately, without forensic testing of the mackintosh and the Sunbeam fire, we cannot say with any confidence which of (1) to (3) is more probable. If it could be done retrospectively today it would provide a big pointer. For example, if the mackintosh would only ignite with an unregulated flame, it suggests (1) which would surely give further weight to the Wallace theory. If the burnt mackintosh and skirt damage were less consistent with (1), it would be firm evidence that the fire was on for some time - consistent with a visitor calling and surely less likely with the Wallace theory because Close nor anyone else saw light from the parlour between 6:30-6:45pm (I provide other reasons in my book).

                          The frustrating thing about historic cases like this is that there are tests we could do if we had the equipment/evidence. Unfortunately, we can only look back in time (pun intended) and not travel back through time.

                          Author of Cold Case Jury books: Move To Murder (2nd Edition) (2021), 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. Author of Crime & Mystery Hour - short fictional crime stories. 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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                          • Hello Antony,

                            If the fire had been on for some time does this really lessen the likelihood of William being the killer? Julia might, for example, have intended to pass the time during William’s absence playing the piano and so might have lit it earlier to get the room warm for when William departed?

                            Another curious point that I’ve raised before is the ‘missing singe.’ You will recall the Sherlock Holmes story, The Second Stain, of course. I find it a bit strange that although Julia’s skirt was burnt to a hole there was no burn mark (singeing) to her underskirt. I don’t know if this is possibly, likely, unlikely or impossible but to me it seems curious at least. If I’m told for certain that this could have occurred I’m in no position to dispute it but, if it is unlikely doesn’t that at least raise the possibility that the burning on Julia’s skirt had been done prior to the murder? Was Julia the kind of person who would have been bothered about this especially if she didn’t intend to leave the house? And if she had left the house a coat would have hidden it. I’m not claiming anything as a fact here but but aren’t we in danger of assuming that the burn on Julia’s skirt occurred at the same time as the burning of the mackintosh?
                            Regards

                            Herlock Sholmes

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                            • Just before I head out, one comment on an aspect of LookingBackInTime’s posts (which deserve fuller comment) One the question of the killer returning to number 29. My main issue with this is that if the call was part of the plan (and I believe that it was) then Parry would have made calculations about timings. He couldn’t have known when William would give up on his wild goose chase. He could, for all that Parry would have known, found out that the address didn’t exist, and decided to return immediately. Returning to the house would have entailed a massive risk of a returning William combined with the fuss that Julia might have kicked up. Even the likelihood of her letting a thief back in.
                              Regards

                              Herlock Sholmes

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                              • Originally posted by Herlock Sholmes View Post
                                Hello Antony,

                                If the fire had been on for some time does this really lessen the likelihood of William being the killer? Julia might, for example, have intended to pass the time during William’s absence playing the piano and so might have lit it earlier to get the room warm for when William departed?
                                I think it does make it less likely because there is no evidence that the fire was on when Close called. I'm making the assumption that Close called at 6:40pm and not 6:30pm (which can be disputed, of course, but I think the preponderance of evidence supports that). However, I also think the opposite is true: if the mackintosh would only ignite with an unregulated flame then this would suggest the fire had only just been lit, pointing to a premeditated murder i.e. Julia was killed almost as soon as she entered the parlour.

                                For me, then, a fire test would have probative value. More generally, I think it is important (following philosopher Karl Popper) to understand what evidence (if we had it) would falsify (or point away) from your own favoured theory. I think a fire test would give us a significant pointer - although I realise it is not going to happen!

                                Author of Cold Case Jury books: Move To Murder (2nd Edition) (2021), 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. Author of Crime & Mystery Hour - short fictional crime stories. 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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