Twenty-one-year-old Thomas Anderson had some awkward questions to answer. What was he up to, dining with his fathers mistress while his father lay dying in the basement, shot in the head?
It was the evening of JULY 16th, 1910, and at 9.30 a chauffeur was driving down Batterseas Prince of Wales Road when he heard two shots and saw a man run from a house in the terrace of Clifton Gardens, cross the front garden and climb over the wall.
When police went to 17 Clifton Gardens their knock on the door was answered by Elizabeth Earl, who lived there in a flat. Thomas Anderson was with her, and both confirmed the chauffeurs story. They said they too had heard shots and had seen a man climb over the garden wall.
A search of the house revealed Andersons father breathing his last in the basement. A 43-year-old small-time actor whose stage name was Wendon Atherstone, he had been shot in the face. Curiously, he was wearing carpet-slippers and had a cosh in his pocket.
It transpired that Miss Earl was his mistress, and detectives at first suspected that she and his son had plotted to kill Atherstone who had become financially dependent on them and a general nuisance. He was known to suspect that his mistress was being unfaithful to him, and his carpet-slippers and cosh suggested that he was lurking in the basement, hoping to surprise her with a lover.
The man fleeing the scene was described as being in his 30s, at least 10 years older than Atherstones son, and the investigators finally accepted Andersons story that he often dined with Miss Earl, who he regarded as a second mother.
It was believed that while Atherstone waited to ambush her with a lover he was shot when he encountered a burglar in the basement. And that was as far as the investigation went, the case remaining unsolved.