The gruesome 1945 pitchfork murder of an elderly townsman brought Scotland Yard’s best detective into one of the most superstitious villages in England.
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This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
When murder cases go unsolved, each typically, because there's no suspect, no leads no motive.
It's not usually because of superstition. Would that's exactly what
happened in a tiny farming village in the heart of England, in nineteen
Forty five, an elderly man, was murdered in broad daylight, just a stone's throw from the main road
The town was so small and quiet. It should have been easy to find the killer. Especially
I for one of Scotland Yard greatest detectives, but the more than
Active learned about this village, the moors
he realised its people didn't want to talk because they harboured some very dark secrets and a lot of them had to do with witchcraft.
this is supernatural power. A cast
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episode is about the Charles Wolden murder. Seventy
five years later, the case is still unsolved, but it's possible
entire town was responsible and their motive could be more gruesome than anyone ever imagined will exe.
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The last morning of Charles One's life was just like any other quiet, predictable, ordinary
In February of nineteen, forty five England was in the final stages of world war. Two within the sleepy
farm community of lower Clinton. The clock may as well have stopped
sixteenth century. Lower quitting
was and still is, a picturesque village of thatched roof cottages and green field with stone. Walls
it's in an area of England called the cops worlds which is thought to be the prettiest part of the country
Basically what you think of when you read a Jane, Austen, novel rolling hills. She
grazing you get. The idea chart
had lived in lower Clinton, all his life. He had no children, but he and his late wife had adopted their knees, EDA and knowledge
I was a widower Edith, looked after him, and seventy four
he was starting to have bad arthritis and needed help walking, but he was still
in good enough shape to make a living by trimming hedges at a local farm
so on the morning of February fourteen nineteen, forty five Charles woke up as usual
He dressed in multiple layers to ward off the chill, and as always, he attached a white metal pocket watch to a chain on his waistcoat. He has made him breakfast and packed him a piece of cake for lunch.
At eight thirty she watched as Charles left the house with his two walking sticks and cut through a nearby churchyard on his way to work. He was always home by four o clock, but when
Edith came home at six this day, Charles, wasn't there
this didn't sit right with EDA, but fur
She decided to check with their neighbour a man named Harry Beazley, maybe
girls had just gone next door.
but Harry hadn't, seen Charles either. So the two of
set off into the dark with flashlights there
ass, the nation was the farm were Charles, worked a place called the firs
first was owned by a man named Alfred Potter anyway,
situated at the base of me on hill. One of the oldest settled places in the cots walls. Archaeologists have found would look like four.
Made during the iron age. On top of me, on hill, and according
legend. It was once the home of the devil himself.
Who then, through a rock at a local church
other stories have it as the wandering place of ghostly dogs and horses
old town of lower Clinton is basically in the shadow of this hill and its understood
that you don't go up there unless you want to be carried out, but Edith
harry, don't really have a choice? They finally make
to the furs and their wandering around in the dark calling Charles his name, but he doesn't answer,
you decide to go to the main house, Alfred Potter
just about to sit down to dinner, but when he
Mrs employee is missing. He leads Edith and Harry out into the field where he last saw Charles. Their shy
their flashlights everywhere. Until finally,
they look over one of the hedges and there's a shape on the ground. Its Charles he's
curled up on his left side, just a few feet away from the hedge and he's. So
rounded by a pool of blood, but that's not
even the most gruesome part, because Charles is Bill Hug, which is this basically curbed. Trimming
tool is literally sticking out of his neck. Now this is
Obviously, terrifying and as that three of them inch
or were they can see that Charles is road has been slashed at least three different times
It's done in such a savage way that all them
in arteries of his neck have been cut, in other words
almost been decapitated and that's not all some
has plunged a pitchfork deep into Charles is face
the handle, looks like it's been forced down and sort of
wage under the bottom of the hedge it as if the killer wanted to pin
Charles his head to the ground, even though he was already dead even start.
the scream so loudly that a farm worker hears her from the other side of the hedge potter
at him to go call the police
Meanwhile, Harry Escorts, Edith Home leaving potter alone with the body.
a few minutes later. A constable by the name of Michael amazed me arrives on the scene when he's
he's Charles his face and neck. He knows he
looking at a murder,
He also notices that Charles is wearing his pocket watch chain, but there's no pocket watch on the end of it and is closer.
and buttoned and dishevelled as though some one rifle through everything to try and find something.
Sensible, doesn't know what to make of any of this, so he asked potter the last time you saw Charles Alive Potter answer
that was round twelve ten, maybe twelve. Fifteen, that afternoon, when Charles was in the feed,
old trimming? The hedges
then lamantine shines. A flashlight around the surrounding area and sees one of Charles is walking sticks. Why
and is covered with blood and hair. So it's
clear that it was used as a weapon. He picked
up and shows it to potter, and that's when Potter's expression change it.
He steer at it like he's about to be sick,
potter seems to get even more uncomfortable as more policemen show up until fine,
He makes the excuse that he's cold and hungry and heads home, which is
Pretty suspicious behaviour like potter, should want to know more about what happened to his employee and whether there is a murderer on his property. In any case,
the police, let him go, and they call Anna pathologist to examine the body
but the college's gets there around eleven thirty that night and he tries to remove the pitchfork from Charles is base, but the times have been
pushed in so deeply. It's almost in
possible to pull them out. He all
discovers several bruises on Charles his scalp, along with some broken ribs on his left side and the backs of choice.
his hands are covered in these strange cuts. None of this
makes sense, but everyone agrees. This is overkill like whoever did this man
have wanted to destroy Charles Walton? But why then
today the cops canvas the village asking of Charles had been at odds with any one, but everyone
does the same thing. He was a nice guy, maybe a little
eccentric, but not the cause
person to have enemies.
Evening, the cops are realised. They're gonna need some help. They ve come
entire crime scene and found nothing so they decide
to wire Scotland Yard fifty.
Minutes later they get a response detectable beyond that
first train in the morning,
his name is Robert Fabian and he's the best they ve got coming up detective
being begins. His investigation high
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When Robert Fabian arrives in lower Quinton, he is at the peak of his career at four
Four Fabian's been on London's police force for almost half his life and he's aren't an impressive reputation for solving crimes, his specialities,
criminal underworld of London brothel
was gambling Dan's drool thieves mean this guy has seen and done at all, so in Fabian gets today
quaint farming village, just two days after the murder heating
this is gonna be easy. There is less than five hundred people in the entire town. It's so quiet you can hear a pin drop.
and Charles died less than half a mile from the main road in the middle of the day according
the coroner. It was some time between one and two in the afternoon
The town, this small, some one has to know something. So
be it in his associate detective sergeant Albert web. Decide
There are going to interview every one in the village, starting, of course, with Alfred Potter
baby and goes straight to potter's house and sit down at his kitchen table
He gently ass potter to go through the events of the day, one more time, but please
story is slightly different from the one he told officers. The night of the murder.
Again it was twelve ten in the afternoon when he saw Charles, but this time
I'm potter reveals that he was heading to a field to feed some sheet when he got there. He
saw Charles in the next field over
but now it was about twelve twenty
potter, says he was too busy to go over and speak to Charles. He claims
One of his heifers had died in a ditch the day before and he needed to get it out. Fabian,
ass potter. If he's positive, that the man he saw was Charles and Potter says, will
Oh, he camping positive, but that he's quote almost certain unquote
and out of nowhere. He brings up appeal w camp a couple of miles outside of town over at that
in prisoners of war are being held there in its known that security is lacks p,
W, are able to come and go as they please. So there often spotted around the village and surrounding fields Fabian. Here's this
thanks him and leaves
He can't get a red on potter yet, but he's definitely intrigued by this information.
And sure enough later that day,
police find would appear to be army boot footprints along the border of the field where Charles died, it looks
they go over a and head straight into the woods on me on hill, and they just disappear,
it's a promising enough lead that Fabian arranges to have all one thousand Pew W interviewed, but he's sceptical that
dinner is responsible for what
and most people are murdered by someone they know and Fabian still
can't figure out a motive. Avi
This has all the year marks of a robbery gone bad, the dishevelled club.
who's the missing watch. Maybe
when thought Charles was carrying money, but why kill himself
brutally in feed
it's mine. This has got to be some sort of vendetta,
Meanwhile, Michael Amass need the first officer on the scene that night as a funny feeling about potter, so he decides to go by
and talk to the farmer himself.
this time, potter's acting, really agitated, and eventually it comes out. Why heat
Le Mass need that he had touched. The handle of the slashing hook in Charles is neck on the night. The body was found. Apparently,
he is concerned that his fingerprints will incriminate him lamas need
takes this info back to detective Fabian,
immediately has potter come into the police department for further questioning. He asked potter point blank about the slashing hook.
And Potter says that Charles's neighbour, Harry Beazley asked him to touch it
Allegedly Harry wanted him to make sure Charles was dead, of course,
Harry denies this and Fabian's
reading to think that potter's the guilty one but he's
It doesn't have enough evidence to make an arrest. He just keeps hoping the next
villager. He talks to. You will give him some sort of lead, but so far
interviews are going nowhere which, if you think about it, is pretty bizarre.
for this is a small town. It seems weird that no one would have a clue or at least think they had one. But the folks of lower Clinton
don't even seen curious and
not only that their acting sort of and
welcoming, like one day, Fabian knocks on someone's door and he's greeted by an older man. Babies
He's there to ask questions about Charles Walton and the local replies quote:
he's been dead and buried a month? Now? What
you worrying about end quote
Then he slammed the door in Fabian's base. Its Devon
We a strange way to behave when one of your neighbour has been literally murdered, but as.
please go by Fabian, guess the sense that the villagers all won him to leave the whole thing alone. He even
as much in one of his letters to Scotland Yard Fabian right
but the natives of upper and lower Quentin have a quote secretive disposition. End quote:
he even remarks that there may be sort of a local history attached to Charles or the villagers. That could explain the murder, which sounds like wishful thinking, but it's actually pretty in two
because Fabian's about to stumble upon some of that local history, all on his own one afternoon,
during the investigation, detective Fabian takes a walk up me on hill. He stands at the top looks down
adorable village below and wonders whether these people are hiding something then suddenly he gets the sense that he's being
watched he turned around and he spies a black dog
it sitting on top of a stone wall staring at him. Finally,
it jumps down into the field and walks past baby. In a few minutes
less than a little boy comes over the wall. Fabian
So, if he's looking for his dog but the boys confused, he asks what Dark Fabian says that black dog, but before
He can finish his sentence. The little boy turns completely pale
without saying a word. He turns and runs down the hill. The whole thing
is unsettling, so in Fabian gets back.
to the village. He decides to look at this little book that was given to him by the head of the local police, a guy named
sooner schooner thought, the book might,
help him understand the community better. It's called folk lore old,
stems and superstitions in Shakespeare, land and as soon as he began
Reading it baby and understands why the villagers might be acting so weird, it turns out here,
stepped into the most superstitious. A cold obsessed area in all of England,
apparently ancient beliefs about the devil, black magic and goes are still going strong in the court's waltz.
his whole region has more than its fair share of hauntings and weird occurrences. Some
we'll think it has something to do with a circle of ancient stones that are just twelve miles away from the village of lower Clinton? There call
the role right stones and are widely boy
to be the sight of pagan rituals back and the neolithic era.
later on. They become popular for which rituals and the name
in forties at the time of Charles Whartons murder, though,
rituals were apparently still going on
one of these superstition centres around black dogs
for as long as anyone can remember, these animals have been thought of as an omen of death or a symbol of the devil
To see one is bad luck.
And one dog in particular, has been known to actually kill people. It's called black shock from
Anglo Saxon word: Sucre, which means demon.
According to the legend, this door,
once walked into a local church in the Cotswold, while town of Bunge in fifteen seventy seven and I went ballistic
even killed a couple of people inside the church, as they were, praying
This legend is still strong, even today, cots wildly
close swear, a huge black dog with green or red eyes will run across the road as their driving, usually in the middle of the night. So when we're
It gets out that baby and has seen a black dog on me on hill people really start to shut down.
Walks into a local pub, no one will even make eye contact
Fabian, begins to wonder if there is some truth to this legend because late
that same day, a black dog is hit and killed in the village by a police car and in it
following another black dog dies only there
time is not a case of road kill the door.
is literally found hanging from a Bush
near the site of Charles is murder? It's an ominous sign
but Fabian doesn't know what it means and, as the
weeks dragged by its clear the village.
We are never going to talk baby and just about to give up
Charles Wolden murder, when he comes across a local story, one that really peaks his interest. As it turns out, this
the only time some one in the area has been killed. This way coming up the first pitchfork murder.
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seventy years before Charles Wolden was murdered on September, fifteenth, eighteen, seventy five and eighty
old woman named antennas left her house in the cots walls to buy some bread on the
The bakery an encountered, a neighbour of hers, a man named John Heyward Heyward, was a fee.
Labour and on this particular night he carried a pitchfork its unclear. If the two had word,
but what we do know is that he would fatally stabbed and in the head and on her legs multiple times with the pitchfork some say he impaled her throat then used a hook to carve the sign of a cross in her chest. At any rate, Heyward was caught and set
when asked why he did it, he always said the same thing and ten. It was a witch.
Waiting to hey, would she placed a curse on his land or one of his animals using me evil eye and the use of his.
for it was no accident it, sir.
There's an old, anglo Saxon tradition called sticking. This is where you stab someone with a pin or a thorn and hope that the person bleeds enough to die.
The Anglo Saxons believe this was the best way to kill a witch, because she would bleed out all her evil powers. He would say
that an the only which in the village,
claim there were at least fifteen other witches, all of whom he planned
to kill the same way
of course he never got a chance. Heyward was detour,
and to be mentally ill and an died with zero proof that
who's ever, which detect
Fabian says he learned of this story eyes. He was investigating the Charles Wolden murder in February of nineteen forty five, but at the time
he didn't mention it
not, in any of his reports to Scotland Yard, he's more focused on Alfred Potter,
who he's pretty sure, killed Charles, whether or not he was a which for wine
Fabian learns that potter's parents owned the farm with him, and that potter was
sometimes keep the money. They gave him to pay the workers. There were weeks when potter would supposedly forget about payday and pocket the cash
but after taking four thousand statements baby and has nothing to convict potter of such
grisly murder, no proof of motive no weeds so,
or a four month of investigations he quits? He
back to London at the end of March nineteen, forty five and to the disparate
leave of everyone at Scotland Yard. The Charles Wolden case goes unsolved, Robert Fade,
in retires four years later in nineteen, forty, nine and then
steer. He publishes his first memoir. It's called Fabian of the yard.
In it he devotes an entire chapter, two, the wanton case, and for the first time he publicly mentions witchcraft. You can
say he almost milks it Fabian Tom
about the secretiveness of the villagers and how they seem to be keeping something from him.
talks about how the cold of satanic worship is alive and well in pockets of England and he dropped
The connection between Charles is murder and an tenets sums
seventy years earlier and over time, people catch on
they start to wonder whether Charles Wharton was secretly a witch, and if his death was in some sort of retribution. Now we can
the historian Donald Mccormick for being the one who really got this theory going in nineteen,
sixty eight. Some twenty years of Charles is murder. Mccormick were the first book on the case. It was called
or by witchcraft in It Mccormick COD
to have spoken to a high priest as from the cots won't area. Allegedly,
She said that Charles Bolton wasn't a witch but he'd
It have an ability to talk to animals. She called it. A quote: Stew
Range kind of psychic power. Would you
in some countryman end quote and apparently
words or Charles is bathed wrecked, but he also had a strange power over dogs. Now
Another anonymous source Mccormick spoke was a man who said he'd hired Walton several different times and
he claimed that Wharton Bread Matter Jack's, which is a type of toll that doesn't hop. It only runs
allegedly Charles would harness these toads to toy plows and let them run across a field which sounds bond
but is actually a practice known as blasting the land or me
in the soil and fertile? It was before
to be a ritual that which is centuries ago, would use to curse farmers
again. There is no proof that Charles actually did this outside of Mccormick's anonymous sources, and I
I should mention that Mccormick had a tendency not to identify his witnesses, so its power,
simple. This was all made up and if its
to believe Charles is a which it could be because detective, Fabian and Mccormick were both looking for superstition in the wrong place.
As far as anyone knows, Charles Wolden was just a regular old man. The real occultism may have been the villagers of lower Clinton.
Earlier this year we did an episode called who put Bela in the which, on those
you who listened may remember a researcher named Margaret Murray. She was one of
first highly regarded female scholars in England and a respected anthropologist. An egyptologist in the early
nineteen twenties. She became fascinated with witchcraft, which
why she was so interested embellish case. Then in nineteen
Eighty. Eighty, seven year old, Murray catches, wind of Robert Fabian's new book and the Charles WAR
murder, and she decides to travel to lower Quintus herself,
but instead of showing up as a researcher, she pretends to be an artist Marie chat.
Said the locals to see if any of them will finally talk about Charles is murder and they do
you're speaking to the lower Quentin villagers and doing her own research, Maria
an interview in which she said she was ninety five,
sent certain that Charles Walton,
been killed because of witchcraft, not
does trials himself was a witch, but as
belied sacrifice to improve the fertility of the soil, now blood soccer
ices are unknown. Part of witchcraft, which has,
the roots in ancient beliefs, about the earth fertility and the cycles of life and death blow
represents life and creation
giving blood to the land is thought to improve its fertility and, as we know, the whole town of lower Clinton was steeped in superstitions. Also
Nineteen forty four the year before Charles died had been a bad year for farming. The outlook for nineteen for
If I didn't bode well, either.
Plus England had been at war for years food and
luxuries were scarce. Things were looking pretty bleak.
Which means people in the town may have been willing to try anything to ensure a profitable year, including killer
one of their own tomorrow
By the way the pitchfork was lodged into wantons face pending his head to the ground was a dead give away. It was almost as if whoever killed him
wanted him to bleed into the ground as much as possible and as long as possible.
She even suggested that the date February fourteen had been on purpose
interview with the Birmingham Post Murray said that the fourteenth was actually the first according to the original roaming calendar and February first
a traditional day of pagan sacrifice. If this is
really the case. It would suggest that the entire town was in on Charles is murder, which would
a lot of sense, considering how cagey they were during the entire investigation. In fact, six
years after Murray's investigation. This is nineteen. Fifty six, a woman,
wrote to the Reynolds NEWS, a UK newspaper. She would
give her name, but she said that for the past twelve years, she
being in a satanic called in the area, and she confirmed that
Charles Waltons murder was a ritual sacrifice, just as
great Murray had said:
She also said she knew exactly who did it and at the killer wasn't local? They had.
from London and thirteen people were present for the murder,
Allegedly they danced around in Charles is blood. No, this part seems pretty
hard to believe considering how quiet and insular the village was.
to imagine thirteen people dancing in a field in the middle of the day, I should
also mention that in the woman's account, the crime happened in the middle of the night, not the afternoon, and
Without any evidence, it seems more likely that Alfred Potter was at fault. He
was near Charles just before he was killed, and he was
in the world's best boss. Buddy
Today, the people of lower Quentin remain oddly tight. Lipped about this murder
recently, a BBC reporter travelled to the town to interview some people about the wanton case, and they
sperience what they called
community response. It was as if P,
or following a script instead of actually saying what they knew
one person even said quote in cases like this
there is always someone that knows something, but for the sake of relative
and not upsetting people,
but he will say end quote whether that's the point
your family or the entire town, I'll. Let you decide
thanks for listening I'll be back next week with another episode you can find
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supranational stars, Ashley flowers and his Spotify original from PAR cast its executive produced by.
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Transcript generated on 2020-12-23.