When Chief Inspector Hambrook and Detective Sergeant Bell
from Scotland Yard arrived in Blandford to investigate the crime, it was like a
scene from Midsomer Murders. They had arrived at Blandford Station after a long and uncomfortable train journey down from the capital. Two successive managers at the Coverdale Dog
Kennels in Tarrant Keynston had lost their lives from shotgun injuries.
Both bizarrely had happened in the village within two years. The two detectives soon felt they were
receiving little help from the locals and were being met by a conspiracy of
silence. They did however uncover tales of marital infidelities, anonymous poison
pen letters and petty jealousies.
Blandford's Doctor Kenneth Wilson had examined the body and concluded that the injuries could not have been self inflicted. So the Scotland Yard Chief Inspector called in the Home Office Pathologist, Sir Bernard Spilsbury who shared the Blandford doctor's opinion.
The villagers were convinced that both deaths were caused by
shotgun accidents. Such was their reticence to come forward that in his
Sunday sermon, the Reverend Mann, Tarrant Keynston’s Rector made a special
appeal to his parishioners to help the police in their investigations. The
police quickly concluded that the murderer was known locally as the dogs would
have barked if the intruder had been a stranger to the village. Edward Welham (25)
had been found in the Kennels office in a pool of blood. He was discovered during
the morning of the 1st October 1931 by kennel lad, Frederick Deamen.
Welham had extensive wounds on the back of his head and beneath his body was a
double barrelled shotgun one barrel of which had been discharged. The unconscious
Kennels manager was rushed to Blandford Cottage Hospital where he died the next
At the Inquest, the Coroner, Mr W H Creech declared: ‘There was someone who knew more than was
told and they were standing in a precarious position…. If the gun was fired at the distance stated by experts you can come to
no other conclusion than that there was a third party responsible for this –
that the man was murdered.’ The jury then returned a verdict of murder by a
person or person’s unknown.
Although the kennel lad was a convicted thief, the Coroner
added: ‘It cannot be said for a minute
that there is sufficient evidence on which you can say that Deamen is
responsible for murder.’
Owner of Coverdale Kennels, Ethelbert Frampton, who was from Christchurch, had said that Edward
Welham was a most careful man with a gun. Frampton did not believe there was
the slightest suggestion that his deceased employee would commit suicide. Coverdale’s
previous manager, William Steer had been found dead in a badger hole two years earlier
with a shotgun by his side. Edward Welham had found the body and it had been finally
concluded that Steer had committed suicide.
While the Coroner had returned a murder verdict the
perpetrator remained at large. The murderer had taken money from Welham’s
wallet which had contained around nine pounds. This further suggested that the
death was not suicide. The file of the crime
involving the murder of the Tarrant Keynston Kennels manager Edward Welham was
listed and filed away as ‘unsolved’. Murder
of Edward Welham remains a case that Scotland Yard has been unable to solve. A senior police officer reckoned he knew who had committed the murder but that there was insufficient evidence to justify a charge.
Image: crime scene reconstruction.
Archives, Kew & unsolved-murders.co.uk)