Friday, 15 April 2011

Murder Mystery - Brighton Trunk Murders, 1934

I love a bit of a murder mystery, especially when it's a local one!

On the 17th June, 1934, a gruesome discovery was made at Brighton Station. William Joseph Vinnicombe found the remains of a female torso hidden inside a trunk. He was the left luggage attendant at the station, and his suspicions were raised when he started smelling a gut renching stench coming from inside.

He called over the Detective Bishop, who also informed Scotland Yard. The following day, the legs of the woman were found inside a further trunk at King's Cross Station in London. The investigation began.

The murderer obviously knew to discard the head and arms so as not to give away the identity of his victim. They have never been found. The attendant was questioned, but could not recall who had actually deposted the trunk in Brighton, and a mass public appeal was made for any information, the first of its kind.

The post-mortem concluded she was killed by trauma to the head (although how they figures this out without the head I will never know!) and then chopped up and put into the cases to cover it up. Perhaps it was an accident? Or a botched abortion, as she was found to be 5 months pregnant when she died. They estimated her to be around 25, and that this was her first pregnancy. Perhaps it was a cover it by the father of the child?

The police opened up over 100 missing persons cases in the London and Brighton, and stumbled across a report on Violet Kaye, who had disappeared a few weeks earlier and not been seen since. However, she was 42, and had already had children, so she was ruled out.

The feet of the girl found in the trunk at the station were thought to be a dancers, and were classed as quite beautiful. So they nicknamed her 'Pretty Feet', and so she will always be known.

After a month of dead ends, the police decided to conduct house to house searches in the surrounding area. When they entered at 52, Kemp Street, they found a back room, locked. Visitors had started complaining of a foul stench coming from within. The cause: another trunk, being used as a side table, with the body of decompossing Violet Kaye.

She had last been seen with her then partner, Toni Mancini, who had quite the reputation around town, and had fled, knowing the police would be after him, seeing as he already had a lengthy record. Unluckily for him, they soon caught up with him in London, and promptly arrested him.

During questioning, he kept up the story that he had come home, having found Violet dead, possible killed by one of her clients (she was a prostitute), and that he'd panicked and bungled her into the trunk, knowing the police would be looking for him, and that they wouldn't believe his story.

Amazingly, when put on trial, he was acquitted, with the judge ruling there was not enough evidence to condem Mancini.

On his deathbed, he finally confessed all to a national newspaper, but died a legally innocent man.

The identity of the girl in the trunk at the station was never discovered, and the killer walked free.

I'd warned you I'm a bit of a local history geek. And who can say no to a good murder mystery? As it received so much press coverage, there are lots of places to find out even more, and I keep finding out new bits and bobs.

I'm actually considering doing a Haunted Brighton guide, having got stuck into a new book. What do you think? Or would I bore you to death with it? Heh. I was thinking of going for an explore and seeing if I find anything out of the dido du do dido du (thats supposed to sound like twillight zone...or whatever its called btw, hehe)

Views appreciated : )

Much love from Brighton



  1. Loved this! You are so creative, it's a really interesting story, and so great of you to take pictures to go along! You really are too cute, keep it up!


  2. Wow, what a gruesome story! I think you should stick with it. I love hauntings and urban legends. Supposedly a girl died in my sorority house back in the 30s and we would always blame stuff on her ghost

  3. thank you solanah :) put a great big grin on my face reading your comment! Really liked your 70s shoot the other day, those sunnies are amazing!

    aww Tami, you should so read into your 'haunting', I'd love to hear more about it! It actually turns out that the place I'm doing my show at is supposedly haunted by a girl who threw herself out the window, so I'm thinking of having a snoop around on monday :) I loved your recent hair tut too, going to have a go tonight!



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