Will you just go down to Mrs. Johnsons shop with a message? Mrs. Jean Carr asked her 11-year-old daughter Nellie. It was the worst request of her life.
Nellie, who lived with her mother and stepfather in Byrne Avenue, Rock Ferry, Birkenhead, had fair hair, rosy cheeks, very blue eyes and was described by one of her schoolteachers as sweet-tempered and sensitive. That evening, Saturday, January 10th, 1925, she put on her red Tam oShanter and went on her mothers errand. She was never seen alive again.
Next morning a neighbour, Martin Doran, opened his rear door to let out his dogs and was horrified to see the body of a young girl propped against the telegraph post in the passageway at the back of his house. Her face was ashen and she had a scared, agonised look. He picked up her hand. It was icy cold.
This was the body of Nellie Clarke. She had been raped, and bruises on her body showed she had ferociously resisted her attacker.
He may have been the tall, smartly dressed man seen by two witnesses walking towards Bedford Road with a young girl wearing a red Tam oShanter. He was later seen alone, apparently flustered, and said to a taxi driver, Take me to St. Pauls Road [in Rock Ferry] quickly. Not only was the killer never found, but it was never discovered exactly where Nellie was murdered.