On April 5, 1936, 48-year-old Beatrice
Sutton was found dead in her London apartment, Iying across the bed with
several pillows stacked over her face. Despite the body's odd posture,
there were no immediate signs of a struggle, and her death was first
attributed to "natural causes," later shifted to homicide after further
investigation proved she had been strangled.
Frederick Field, an airman stationed
at nearby Hendon, was charged with the murder on April 25, freely
confessing his crime to police. "I had not seen the woman before in my
life," he proclaimed, and had not the least ill intentions toward her. I
just murdered her because I wanted to murder someone." In later
interviews, Field told reporters he was tired of living and had "put
himself on the spot" with a capital crime after finding he lacked the
courage to commit suicide.
Convicted of murder and sentenced to
death on May 13, 1936, Field mounted the gallows on June 30. In the wake
of his execution, he was generally acknowledged as the killer of Nora
Upchurch, found strangled in 1931 -- - a crime for which he had been
previously tried and acquitted at the Old Bailey.
Field, Frederick Herbert
Frederick Herbert Field was a young man who worked
for a firm of signboard fixers. On 2 October 1931 the strangled body of
a 20-year-old prostitute, Annie Louisa Upchurch, better known as Norah
was found by workmen lying in a passageway of an empty shop London's
One of the workmen, Albert Field, had gone there the
day before to remove a to let sign and he came under suspicion when he
made a statement about handing over the keys of the shop the day before
to a man who he believed was about to rent the shop. The Coroners court
returned an open verdict.
On 25 July 1933, twenty one months after the death of
Norah Upchurch Field walked into the offices of the Daily Sketch and
told the news editor that he wanted to make a statement. He told of how
he had taken the girl into the empty shop and strangled her and then
made off with her handbag. He repeated this story to the police.
When it came to trial Field withdrew this evidence.
It became obvious that Field's tactics were only to obtain money from
the newspaper and as there was no other evidence the judge directed the
jury to acquit him.
By 1936 he was arrested after having deserted from
the RAF. He promptly confessed to having killed Beatrice Vilna Sutton.
She was a middle-aged widow who had been found suffocated in her flat in
Clapham in April 1936.
At his trial he tried the same technique as before
and withdrew his confession. Unfortunately for him his confession this
time was just a little too detailed and contained facts that could only
be known by the killer. This time he was found guilty. He was hanged at
Wandsworth prison on 30 June 1936.
30 June 1936 – Frederick Herbert Field
Maybe Frederick Herbert Field would have got away
with his killer tendencies, if avarice hadn’t got the better of him.
By day he came across as harmless – merely fixing
signs around London. But that masked a murderer who had a predilection
for targeting women.
One of his victims could have been a prostitute by
the name of Norah, aka Annie Louisa Upchurch, whose 20-year-old body was
found next to a shop. Just the day before, Field had been tasked with
taking down the ‘To let’ sign at the very same shop.
With little or no evidence to go on, the coroners
left the verdict open, but just under two years later, Field swanned
into a newspaper office and shopped himself – admitting the crime of how
he’d lured Upchurch into the shop, killed her and made off with her
The story went to the police, but he bottled it when
he went to trial – and in the absence of any hard evidence plus a
retracted statement, there was nothing more to go on.
What was in for him? Money, that’s what. He was
hoping to get a nice payout from the paper for an exclusive. At least,
that’s how it came across in court, so he was let off.
A couple of years later and he was back in custody,
this time for going AWOL while in the Royal Air Force. The fiendish
felon used the opportunity to confess to another random killing – this
time a widow in Clapham, by the name of Beatrice Vilna Sutton. But this
time he really did stitch himself up, because he let out secrets that
only the killer could have known. They had him by the short and curlies
now and a guilty verdict was a fait accompli.
He was sentenced to death and it was carried out at
Wandsworth Prison on this day in 1936, when he was 32 years old.
SEX: M RACE: W
TYPE: T MOTIVE: PC-non-specific
women in their homes "because I wanted to murder someone"