Mrs. Lillian Maud Chamberlain, 25, worked at a hotel in Northwood, Middlesex, and on August 26th, 1937, she was found murdered in the flat she shared with her husband over a shop near the hotel. She had been beaten on the head with an iron bar and then strangled, and Mr. Chamberlain was quickly eliminated from the investigation. He was a railway dining-car attendant, and was working away from home on the night of the murder.
But the police soon had another suspect: John Thomas Rodgers, a 22-year-old barman at the hotel. On the nights of his half-days off he usually slept away from the hotel, and one of those days was August 25th. Mrs. Chamberlain had left the hotel at 10.45 that night, and had been seen crossing the road to her flat, where she was found dead the next morning.
Rodgers admitted going to her flat, but denied killing her. He was charged with her murder, and at his Old Bailey trial in October he said that on the night of Mrs. Chamberlains death he returned to Northwood too late to get into the hotel. He thought the Chamberlains might put him up for the night, so he entered the shop beneath their flat through a window, and on going upstairs he found Mrs. Chamberlain lying dead on the floor.
In trying to lift her he got blood on his clothes and became frightened, so he changed into one of her husbands suits. Then, he said, he went to Southend and threw his bloodstained shirt into the sea off the pier.
He was convicted and sentenced to death, and in the condemned cell he learned that he was not the first member of his family to be tried for murder. In 1919 when he was only four, his mother had been charged with murdering his father by cutting his throat with a razor, almost decapitating him. She had been provoked by her husband flaunting his affairs with other women, and she was convicted of manslaughter and jailed for five years.
On the eve of his execution Rodgers made a confession to two prison officers. He had wanted to indecently assault a woman, he said, and after unsuccessfully trying to waylay one he had gone to Mrs. Chamberlains flat, where he hit her over the head with an iron bar, sexually assaulted her, and then strangled her.
Thomas Pierrepoint and Henry Pollard hanged him on NOVEMBER 18th, 1937.