Mary Money And The Merstham Tunnel Mystery

Mary Money Murder

The murder of Mary Money is a curious tale. At the time her death wasn’t even considered murder, despite strong evidence to suggest otherwise. Could a bizarre link to another murder years later provide answers? Here Unsolved Casebook takes a look at the strange case.

The Life Of Mary Money

Mary Money was an attractive twenty-two-year-old. She lived at 245 Lavender Hill, Clapham, London in 1905 with her friend and colleague Emma Hone. Polite, well-mannered and friendly, she was well-liked by her neighbours and work colleagues.

Mary worked as a bookkeeper for a dairy farmer called Mr Bridger. In her spare time, she had been dating a reputable young local man. All in the life of Mary Money seemed “Fine and Dandy” as they used to say.

The Day Of Mary Money’s Death

On the day of September 24, 1905, Mary started to act a little out of character. Friends noticed she was acting more secretive than her usual self, and even a little excitedly. During the course of the day, she was caught sheepishly skimming through the railway time tables pamphlet.

At around 7 pm that evening she told her assistant and friend, Emma Hone, she was just going for a walk and rushed out of the dairy. When Mary left she was wearing just a dress accompanied by a silk scarf and a knitted purse. Mary didn’t return to the dairy from her walk.

The railway tunnel at Merstham had been repaired during the day of the 24th of September. At around 11 pm the South Eastern Railway Company sent an inspector out to check that the area was safe and secure.

The man given the task was Sub-Inspector Peacock. Peacock made his way along the dark tunnel. Along his way, he came across what he at first thought was a bundle of rags. It was, in fact, the body of Mary Money.

Mary Money – Murder, Suicide or Accident?

The scene was gruesome. A train had almost completely severed Mary’s left leg, it remained attached by a strand of flesh. Even more horrific was the victim’s skull, the brain protruding from a massive fracture.

What may at first glance appear as anything from a dreadful accident to a tragic suicide soon seemed unlikely. The scarf which Mary had been seen wearing when she left the dairy was now rammed into her throat.

A later, closer, inspection of Mary Money’s body also found scratches and bruising on it. These, it was determined, were more consistent with an attack rather than a train been the cause.

Despite this police had their doubts. Instead of treating the death as murder police instead focused on Mary Money’s death being the result of a suicide.

Robert Money

Police couldn’t immediately identify the woman as Mary Money. Two days later on the 26th of September the brother of Mary, Robert Money, came forward and confirmed the body as that of his sister.

Shortly after the death of his sister Robert Money began acting strangely. One could maybe forgive this and put it down to the fact his sister had just died. Others, however, believe there was more too it.

An interesting part of his behaviour was what Robert repeatedly told friends. He claimed he was a suspect in his sister’s death in the following days. This was despite police at that point not even considering the death of Mary Money as murder. So why would Robert think he was a suspect?.

Witnesses Saw Mary Money On The Train.

Police were eventually given reason to at least consider the possibility of murder. A number of separate witnesses came forward stating they may have seen Mary Money on the night of her death.

A train conductor told officers that he believed he saw Mary Money on the 9.33 pm train going from Charring cross to Reading. Other passengers on the same train also said likewise.

Interestingly a number of the passengers and the train conductor were also able to place Mary Money with a male companion. The description of the man was that he was a redhead, had a moustache and wore a bowler hat.

Another witness who came forward was a signalman. The witness, who was working at the signal box in Purley Oaks, said he saw a man and a woman fighting on that same train. The reason he didn’t report it sooner he claimed was because he assumed it was just a couple playing and didn’t think it anything serious.

Police Still Unconvinced

After speaking again with Emma Hone it was also realized that the knitted purse Mary had with her had not been recovered. Still, the police doubted whether Mary was murdered.

On October 16, 1905, the coroner gave his verdict. Despite the bruising indicating an attack and the scarf been rammed down her throat, he too was unable to rule Mary Money’s death as either murder, suicide, or an accident.

In time the question of whether Mary Money was a murder victim has almost categorically been a yes. Crime historians, criminologists and police officials all mostly agree she was unlawfully killed. But by whom?

Who Killed Mary Money?

Mary’s behaviour on the day of her murder leads many to conclude she was meeting someone that evening. Her brother is one possibility, but another is a rendezvous with another man.

The excited and nervous behaviour displayed by Mary Money that day certainly seems to be more fitting with meeting a lover rather than a family member. The witnesses who saw her on the train also point more towards a lover, especially as their descriptions do not describe her brother Robert.

The man on the train, however, was never identified. We can only wonder if he would have been if the police had treated the case as murder from the start.

What we do know is that it wasn’t the boyfriend she had been dating before her death who she was going to meet. So does that make him a suspect? Alas no, he had a cast-iron alibi for his whereabouts on the night in question.

That brings us back to Mary’s brother Robert. He doesn’t match the description of the man on the train. His behaviour after her death can also be explained in many ways due to grief.

However, it is an event that occurred several years after Mary Money’s death that gives historians the person they believe to be the prime suspect.

The Curious Tale Of Mr Murray

In 1907 a young woman named Florence Paler met a man called Mr Murray. Robert Hicks Murray would spin young Florence some tall tales and the woman fell head over heels for him.

He quickly began to manipulate and control poor Florence, as men of his type do. Florence at his bequest became distant from her friends and family, and moved in with Murray, at the time scandalous behaviour for an unmarried woman.

Shortly after the couple would have a son and a daughter. The pair would also eventually become Mr and Mrs Murray.

Florence eventually came to tire of her partners secretive and manipulative ways and began to meddle. It was a decision she would soon regret. Murray discovered her trying to investigate his affairs and beat her so severely that she never dared try again.

In 1910 Murray allowed Florence to invite her younger sister Edith to stay with them. Murray was instantly smitten with the younger, more attractive Edith and began to make his move on Edith just as he had Florence.

After convincing Edith he had left her sister Florence the pair soon married. Murray moved her into a second home. Again the couple would have a child, all whilst Murray still secretly remained in his relationship with Florence, spending three days at a time with each wife.

The Eastbourne Tragedy

By August 18, 1912, the financial and emotional impact on Robert Hicks Murray became too much for him to burden.

At the home he shared with Edith and their young baby, Murray informed the housekeeper she was no longer needed. Robert Hicks Murray then made his way into the room and proceeded to shoot Edith and the baby dead.

The next day, after storing away the bodies of Edith and his child, he met Florence and his other two children. Robert Hicks Murray informed them they had been invited to spend a few days in a villa by a work colleague.

Blissfully unaware of the horrendous acts of the previous day, the family accompanied Murray as he took them to the home in which he had the previous day executed his wife and child.

Later that evening as they slept Murray proceeded to shoot Florence three times. He then made his way into the room where his two children were sleeping peacefully and shot them both dead.

Robert Hicks Murray then poured petrol in the children’s room and the room in which he had stored Edith and his other child’s dead bodies. Murray then set the house ablaze.

Before completing his final act Robert Hicks Murray then wrote a quick suicide note:

“Am absolutely ruined, and have killed all those who are dependent on me. Should like them to be buried all in one grave. God forgive me.”

Murray then turned the gun on himself.

Amazingly Florence Paler had survived the horrific ordeal. Although she fled for help it was tragically too late for anyone else who had found themselves in Robert Hicks Murray’s murderous path.

The Link To Mary Money

Scotland Yard believed that Robert Hicks Murray had also murdered seven previous wives. They refused to divulge any further information about this possibility.

What makes Robert Hicks Murray a person of interest in the murder of Mary Money comes from information from Scotland Yard. On September 12, 1912, they sent a letter saying that Robert Hicks Murray had been identified as none other than Robert Henry Money, Mary’s brother.

Of course, this doesn’t prove that Robert murdered his sister Mary Money, but it does show the sort of character he was and make him a strong possibility. The murder of Mary Money remains unsolved.

Further Reading And Sources

Books:

Murder Tales: Unsolved

News and Articles:

https://www.getsurrey.co.uk/news/nostalgia/everything-you-need-know-gruesome-12832768

https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/5339124

https://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers/NZH19120928.2.127.21

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