Agnes Kesson

Agnes Kesson

Innuendo, accusation and open suspicion bedevilled the inquest on Agnes Kesson, a young waitress found dead on tree-lined Surrey land between Epsom and Tolworth. “It is quite clear that someone knows something,” the coroner told the jury. “Someone is keeping back something. The whole truth has not been told to you here.”

Agnes, 20, from Falkirk, worked for a Mr. F. W. Deats and his wife, owners of The Nook, a caf?, shop, garage and taxi service at Burgh Heath, near Epsom, not far from where her body was found. At the beginning of June, 1930, she gave notice to Mr. and Mrs. Deats and left The Nook on Tuesday, June 3rd, two days before she was murdered on Epsom Derby day.

One witness suggested that there was cash missing from The Nook’s till, and that Agnes was suspected. Another said she would never steal – she was totally honest. Two witnesses identified Agnes as a girl they had seen at the Derby in the company of a young man.

On the night of the murder someone described as “a neighbour” tapped on Mr. Deats’ window and asked him to pick up someone he knew at Sutton station – but when Deats arrived the intended passenger wasn’t there. Later, he said, he was flagged down by two men whom he drove to a road in Sutton. He arrived home at about 1.40 a.m.

Asked why he should be sent on a wild goose chase to the station, Deats said darkly: “There are lots of people in opposition to me around here.”

Agnes was engaged to another of Deats’ employees, but it seems that her roving eye attracted many other admirers. When her body was found she was dressed only in her underwear. She had not been sexually assaulted – yet the killer had taken her clothes after strangling her with a ligature.

The inquest served only to make the mystery doubly mysterious, raising many more questions than it answered. It certainly didn’t get anywhere in eliciting who killed Agnes.