A 45-year-old prostitute known as Carbolic Kate was the victim of another Walworth murder on Tuesday, March 12th, 1929 a murder that was to echo down the years until 1937 when, some might say, a line could be drawn under it.
Her real name was Katherine Peck and she was found lying unconscious with her throat cut in Flint Street. A local man, Frederick Murphy, had earlier been seen with her in a pub, and after she died without regaining consciousness he willingly told two other men that he had killed her.
Murphy disappeared for a few weeks after that, but when police caught up with him he said, I didnt kill her. Ive had sexual intercourse with her from time to time, and I was with her before she was attacked, but I had a job to get rid of her.
He was charged but at his trial one of the men who was supposed to give evidence against him had disappeared. The evidence of the other man alone was insufficient for a conviction, so Murphy was acquitted.
He next accused the man who had testified against him of perjury and accepting bribes, smashed a Home Office window in a rage, and was jailed for 14 days.
Eight years later, on the day of George VIs coronation in 1937, another prostitute, Rosina Field, 49, was found strangled in an Islington Green, London, furniture shop cellar. Staff discovered her body after the firms odd-job man wrote a note saying, I dont know anything about this woman getting into the cellar.
The odd-job man was Frederick Murphy, and when it was learned he had been seen with Rosina the night she was killed he was arrested. He said, I did not do her in, but I admit I handled the body.
Giving evidence at his trial a woman friend, Mrs. Ethel Marshall, told how in the evening of Coronation Day Murphy, who had a key to the furniture shop, took her down to the cellar to see the body. He told me, Ive a good mind to bury it under the cellar. Next morning he said he was going to do me in.
Murphy was found guilty and hanged at Pentonville on August 17th, 1937. Almost certainly, the murderer of Katherine Peck was hanged with him, but officially the case remains unsolved. UK Murder Stories from True Crime Library.
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