9th July 1934

Body in a trunk inquiry moves to Jersey

William Vinnicombe noticed that a trunk at Brighton Railway Station’s lost luggage office was starting to smell. So, he called the police, and Chief Inspector Ronald Donaldson arrived to crack it open.

The source of the smell was predictably gruesome: the incomplete remains of a pregnant woman somewhere in her mid-20s. The trunk contained only her torso. Her legs were later found in a suitcase at King’s Cross railway station, but her head and arms were never found.

The woman was never identified, but police suspected that her killer may have been a Doctor Massiah, who was known to conduct abortions. This was never proved and the doctor was never charged.

The investigation reaches Jersey

However, the police investigation took officers from Scotland Yard to Jersey on 9 July to follow up on details of Larienne Lousse, a French woman whose description matched that of the woman – or parts of the woman – discovered in the trunk. She had lived on Jersey and, following her departure, had been in regular correspondence with a couple still living in the island right up until the trunk’s appearance in Brighton.

Brighton police searched other premises in the city and discovered another trunk containing a dead woman. This was 42-year-old Violette Kaye who police said had been killed by Toni Mancini. Although not dismembered, she’d been packed into a trunk which he’d kept at the foot of his bed, and decomposed and leaked through its cracks. Mancini was found not guilty.

Baby in a suitcase

Separate from these cases, the body of a baby was found in a suitcase at Brighton railway station three days after the dismembered woman had been discovered in the trunk. And, over 100 years earlier, in 1831, John Holloway murdered his wife Celia and left her remains in a trunk in Preston Park. He was hanged.

Nobody suffered a similar fate for killing the woman in the trunk at the railway station. The police trip to Jersey didn’t help them identify either her or her murderer, so whoever it was got away with it. 


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Other events that occured in July