“Mum,” announced 10-year-old Tommy Johnson. “We’ve been playing down at the old disused bus garage. We saw a lady lying in the inspection pit.”

Not surprisingly, perhaps, Mrs. Johnson laughed away that story and told Tommy to get on with his tea. But the image of the “lady” was having a profound effect on the boy. After tea he fetched his next-door neighbour, 12-year-old Irene Mayes, from Vine Street, Scarborough, and took her to have a look at the inspection pit. The lady was still there.

“That’s a dead body,” Irene whispered, awe-struck. She was right. After a friend had fetched the police they identified attractive Mrs. Mary Comins, 33, lying face downwards in three inches of oil and water. She had been manually strangled and marks showed that she was dragged feet first to the pit.

Mary, whose husband was serving in the Eighth Army in North Africa, had spent the evening of her death, Sunday, March 21st, 1943, in a pub with a girl friend named Edna Tyson and two soldiers. They separated at about 10 p.m., but an hour later Edna saw Mary talking to a man in Dean Road.

Local residents claimed they heard screams in Vine Street at about midnight, and others said they knew who the killer was. Police were certain he must have been a soldier, because the garage premises was only vacated by the military on the day before the body was found. One theory was that the soldier-murderer was posted overseas and was killed in action, taking his gruesome secret to his death. UK Murder Stories from True Crime Library.

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