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Arthur HEYS





Classification: Murderer
Characteristics: Rape
Number of victims: 1
Date of murder: November 8, 1944
Date of birth: 1907
Victim profile: Winifred Mary Evans, 27 (W.A.A.F. radio operator)
Method of murder: Strangulation
Location: Beccles, Suffolk, England, United Kingdom
Status: Executed by hanging at Norwich prison on March 13, 1945

In some cases the murderer actually points the finger at himself in trying to push the blame elsewhere. Arthur Heys was a Leading Aircraftsman in the RAF in 1944. He was a married man and was stationed at Beccles, in Suffolk.

On 9th November 1944 the body of Winifred Mary Evans was found in a ditch. Winifred was also in the RAF and the 27 year old radio operator had been raped and strangled. The corporal on duty, at the camp where Winifred was billeted, told the police of a man in uniform who had turned up around midnight the night before. She had told him to return to his own quarters. The corporal did not know the name of the man so the police arranged for her to attend the next pay parade to see if she could pick him out. The duty corporal did as she had been asked and attended pay parade at the men's camp.

Even though Heys had lined up with the R's instead of the H's, she still picked him out as the man she had redirected the night before. Heys' statement that he had been back in barracks by 12.30am was contradicted by colleagues who said that he had not returned until after 1am. He had scratches on his hands and, on his overcoat, was a hair of the same type as the victim's.

While in custody he tried to smuggle out an anonymous letter to his Commanding Officer. The letter was meant to be from another person and it stated that an airman (himself) stood wrongly accused of the murder of Winifred Mary Evans. In it were details that only the killer could have known. He was tried at Bury St. Edmunds in January 1945, found guilty and hanged at Norwich prison on 13 March at the age of 37.


The true story of the murder of WAAF Winifred M Evans 1945.

WAAF DEAD in ditch at Ellough:

Winifred M Evans, aged 27, found by Wilfred Payne, a stoker. Her home was at Harlesden. She was temporarily at Ellough RAF station. With other members of the WAAF she went to a dance at a US aerodrome in Norfolk on Wednesday night. Chief Det-Insp Green, of Scotland Yard, accompanied by Dr Keith Simpson, the Home Office pathologist, arrived to investigate.

Beccles murder charge:

Leading Aircraftman Arthur Heys, aged 37, of 22, Harold Street Colne, Lancs, charged with the murder of Miss Winifred Mary Evans, aged 27, Harlesden member of the WAAF further remanded.

Murder of W.A.A.F. Near Beccles; Airman sentenced to Death for "Savage and Horrible" Crime

AFTER a three days' hearing, L.A.C. Arthur Heys (37), of 22, Harold-Street, Colne, Lancs., was at Suffolk Assizes on Wednesday sentenced to death for the murder of Winifred Mary Evans, 27-year-old Harlesden (London) member of the W.A.A.F., whose body was found in a ditch at Ellough, near Beccles. Mr.- Justice Macnaghten, in his summing up, described it as "a murder more savage and horrible than any in my experience of crime."

The jury were 40 minutes considering their verdict. When asked if he had any reason to give why sentence of death should not be passed on him Heys replied: "God knows I am innocent of this foul crime. I know God will look after me. I am not afraid." As he turned to go below he looked at the gallery, where his wife sat in tears.

The prosecution had alleged that the woman had been attacked and assaulted, and, said the Judge, "treated with such savagery and violence that she was not able to breath."

Anonymous confession

An anonymous letter purporting to confess to the murder was read when the trial opened at Bury St. Edmunds on Monday.

Addressed to the C.O. of an aerodrome and written in block lettering, the letter declared that the man in the dock had been wrongfully accused of the crime. The letter bore the Norwich postmark.

"Will you please give this letter to the solicitors for the airman who is so wrongfully accused of murdering Winnie Evans” stated the writer. "I want to state I am the person responsible for the above-mentioned girl's death. I had arranged to meet her at the bottom, of the road where the body was found, at midnight. When 1 arrived she was not there. I waited some time and decided to walk down towards the W.A.A.F. quarters. Just before I reached this I heard a voice and stood close to the hedge. I heard footsteps. It proved to be an airman. I don't think he saw me. I then saw someone I recognised was Winnie. She said I should not have come down to meet her. A W.A.A.F, friend had offered to go along with her as the airman ahead was drunk and had lost his way She had her cycle with her; no one will ever find this. She told me she could not stay long. I must have been mad and I don’t know what happened. I know she struggled."

The statement ended by the writer saying that he covered up his tracks and got rid of his clothes, which were bloodstained. “I shall be going overseas shortly. Please convey my humble apologies to the airman concerned.” “Then,” said counsel, “Our case is that the document emanated from the prisoner.”

Mr John Flowers, KC, for the prosecution, said that according to a handwriting expert the block lettering was the same as on leave forms filled in by Heys, who after arrest was taken to Norwich prison.

Mr FT Alpe & Mr MP Solomon appeared for Heys, whose wife sat in the gallery.

Mr Flowers said the case for the prosecution was built upon circumstantial evidence, which in cumulative effect produced the certainty that Heys was the man who killed the girl. Evans and Heys were stationed at the same place. The body of the girl, apparently outraged, and suffocated, was found in a ditch.

After returning from a dance continued counsel, the girl had changed and left for her place of duty about five minutes after midnight. She was accompanied for a short distance by another girl, who, on returning to the station and switching on a light in a hut, saw a man, whom she later identified as the accused. He said he was lost and she told him to get out.

Accused had been to Beccles, where he had attended a dance. Apparently he said he had been drinking, but he was sober.

One of the men would say that it was between one and half past when accused entered the hutment on the station, which meant he had taken over an hour to travel the nine-tenths of a mile from the WAAFs site. His conduct was strange, for he did not show a light, and went to bed, and nothing was said. In the morning it was noticed that his civilian shoes were exceptionally dirty. He spent some time brushing his trousers and cleaning his shoes, and later he was seen cleaning his trousers with a towel.

Later, said counsel, accused made a statement to the police in which he said that after leaving the WAAF Camp he “never passed or saw a soul.”

When the case was resumed on Tuesday Chief Det-Insp. Greene, of Scotland Yard, produced the letter, printed in block letters in blue crayon, and printed matter on a watch tab which Heys admitted was his writing. The Inspector said there were pencils of similar type in Norwich Prison.

Supt. Cherrill, for many years in the comparison and identification of handwriting department at Scotland Yard, said it often happened that in block letters the characteristics were even more significant than in ordinary handwriting.

Mr John Flowers. K.C. (for the Prosecution) “What is your opinion as to whether the anonymous letter was written or not by the same person who printed the letters on the leave forms and tab?

Supt. Cherrill—It was the same person's.

Alleged disparities:

Mr. F. T. Alpe (for Heys) cross-examined the witness at length concerning formation of the characters. Asked how he accounted for the difference in many letters, the Superintendent said it might be speed or the desire to write not in natural style. He described some of the letters as " superficially different, but basically not.”

Earlier, the Judge had asked that a plan of the aerodrome and its layout should be produced, a point having been raised as to a path of red brick covered with mud and whether walking on it would cause shoes to be coated with brick dust. It had been stated that brick dust had been found on the shoes of the accused. The plan was shown and witnesses, recalled, expressed the view that brick dust would not come on the shoes from that path.

Dr. Eric Biddle, pathologist at the East Suffolk and Ipswich Hospital, who saw the body in the ditch, said he formed the opinion that she had been thrown or fallen into the ditch and then jumped on, pinned down and outraged. Compression of chest caused asphyxia.

Answering the Judge, witness said there were human bloodstains on the man's jacket. In his opinion it was the girl's blood. There was dry gritty material on his shoe soles and on those of the girl, which was similar to that removed from the ditch.

Accused's evidence:

Heys, in evidence, denied having murdered the girl or written the anonymous letter. He had been four days at the site after returning from ten days' leave with his wife and three children. He went to Beccles and had about three pints of "mild and bitter” and at another public house had five pints. He then went to a dance and lost his bicycle. It was his first night out. He never saw anything of the girl that night.

Asked by counsel why he went to the women’s ablutions hut, he replied that he thought it was his own site. He did not know there was another road from Beccles. He received directions, went straight to his hut and got there about 12.30. He did not put on a light because it was not the custom to do so unless on duty. He thought his pals were asleep.

Questioned about the anonymous letter, accused said he had been in prison since December 5th, and only been escorted out to Court.

When his cross-examination was resumed on Wednesday Heys was asked by Mr Flowers “How do you account for the blood on the tunic?”

Accused: “The only reason I can give is that on one occasion I went out with two men and one cut his hand in falling off a cycle and I helped him to get up. It would be last October.

Mr Flowers, addressing the jury, said if anything else was needed to prove the case against the accused it was provided by the anonymous letter. Reading that part of the letter which stated that a WAAF friend had offered top go along with Miss Evans as an airman who was drunk was ahead, Mr Flowers said: “Nobody in the world could have put that in this letter, according to any reasonable view of the evidence, except this man.”

Mr FT Alpe, for accused, quoted from Richelieu, “Give me a dozen lines written by the hand of the most innocent man and I will find something therein which will cause him to hang.” It had been suggested that the letter was smuggled out of prison. Would a man charged with murder be wandering about the prison? Mr Alpe asked. Letters from prisoners were on official paper. Was it suggested he had accomplices in prison?

The judge told the jury that if they thought the statement made by the accused to the police might be true, he was entitled to be acquitted.

EXECUTION OF AIRMAN, LAC Arthur Heys, for Ellough murder. He was executed at Norwich prison on Tuesday. There had been no execution at Norwich since 8 March 1938.

LAC Arthur Heys was executed on the 17th March 1945, 64 years ago to the day.



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