Emlyn Jones, the 37-year-old landlord of the Bridgend Hotel at Pentre, in the Upper Rhondda Valley, was sleeping with his wife and child in their bedroom in the early hours of SEPTEMBER 11th, 1904. Then Jones’s wife Minnie was suddenly woken by a creaking floorboard, and she sat up. The room’s night-light revealed a man looking at her from the foot of the bed.
As she cried out he struck her on the head with a jemmy. “Em! Em!” she screamed, waking her husband who sprang out of bed to tackle the intruder. But he was no match for the burglar who beat him with the jemmy and then plunged a knife into his heart.
By the time the hotel’s barmaid and cellarman responded to Minnie’s cries for help, the intruder had vanished…without his brown boots. He had left them at the foot of the stairs, in order to make his way silently to the landlord’s bedroom where he hoped to find the keys to the hotel’s safe and depart unseen.
Things had gone tragically wrong. Emlyn Jones died within minutes, and at 5.30 a.m. police watching the Taff Vale railway at Pontypridd spotted a bootless man approaching. Arrested after a brief tussle, he identified himself as Eric Lange. His clothes were bloodstained, two knives were found in his pockets, and when the brown boots were handed to him he put them on without a word. They fitted perfectly – like the cap he had also left at the scene.
It transpired that he had previously stayed at the Bridgend Hotel while working in Pentre. Then he had lost his job, and this had prompted him to raid the hotel for money.
Convicted at his trial at Glamorgan Assizes and sentenced to death for the hotelier’s murder, Eric Lange was hanged at Cardiff Prison on December 21st, 1904.