The rape of Vera Hilda Hoad, 11, was so violent before she was strangled that police believe her attacker’s penis may have been damaged in the assault. A hundred and fifty soldiers at a barracks near the crime scene, a field near a mental hospital at Chichester, Sussex, were accordingly paraded, and inspected without success.

At the time, Monday, February 25th, 1924, one of America’s most violent serial killers was thought to be in England, in the Sussex area, and subsequent research suggests that he was possibly Vera’s killer. He was Earl Leonard Nelson, suspected of the deaths of over 20 women across the States and Canada. Philadelphia-born Nelson had a receding forehead, protruding lips and huge hands – hence he was nicknamed the Gorilla Murderer.

He was hanged in Canada in January, 1928, the British authorities having failed to get a stay of execution so that he could be questioned about the murder of Vera Hoad, and also about the murder of another girl, Nancy Clarke, in Birkenhead.