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Classification: Murderer
Characteristics: Fit of jealousy
Number of victims: 1
Date of murder: August 24, 1922
Date of birth: 1875
Victim profile: Alice Hilda Middleton (his mistress)
Method of murder: Shooting
Location: London, England, United Kingdom
Status: Committed suicide by shooting himself to avoid arrest on January 10, 1923

Cecil Maltby was a 47-year-old tailor who lived alone in a flat above his shop. He had a mistress, Alice Hilda Middleton, whose husband was in the Far East serving with the Merchant Navy.

In the summer of 1922 she moved in with Maltby. Maltby had a liking for the bottle and his business which had already suffered heavily was allowed to deteriorate even further. He and Alice would spend large amounts of time at race meetings and motorcycle jaunts or drinking heavily.

When Alice's husband returned in December 1922 he attempted to find Alice and being unsuccessful he contacted the police and reported her missing. Enquiries determined that she had not been seen since the previous August.

When police visited Maltby he seemed to act very strangely and refused them access. He told them that Mrs Middleton had left him on August 15. The police decided to keep a watch on the shop but Maltby never seem to leave the flat.

The authorities obtained a health order on the grounds of the premises being in an unsanitary condition. This enable the Medical Officer of Health and armed police to break into the shop on 10 January 1923.

Officers entered the premises from both front and rear of the building. As they got to the first floor they heard a shot from the bedroom. Maltby had put a gun in his mouth and pulled the trigger and was dying, he actually died a few minutes later.

In a bath in the kitchen they found a corpse wrapped in a sheet. It was the decomposing remains of Mrs Middleton. A note pinned to the sheet read, 'In memory of darling Pat, who committed suicide on 24 August 1992, 8.30am.' Maltby had left notes explaining that the couple had struggled for possession of the gun after she had threatened suicide. The gun had gone off as they struggled, killing her.

This idea of Mrs Middleton committing suicide was not upheld by the pathologists report which stated that she had been shot three times from behind. A Coroner's Jury returned a verdict of murder against Cecil Maltby and that he then committed suicide.



Cecil Maltby, the taylor

By Bernard Grant

The tragic death of Cecil Maltby in January 1923 solved the mystery of the red house with the yellow blinds.

This house, No. 24 Park Road, Regent's Park, on the ground floor of which was the once fashionable tailoring business of James Maltby, had for some time been associated with strange rumour.

Cecil Maltby, having inherited the business upon the death of his father, soon made it obvious that he had a flair for gambling and dissipation, but none, so far as one could discover, for tailoring.

He was well known at night clubs and gambling establishments, but it was his weakness for women that caused his worst troubles.

All things considered, it was not surprising that his wife should have left him, taking with her their five children. But Maltby soon found someone to replace her a succession of ladies, in fact but he seemed loth to appoint a permanent housekeeper until he met Mrs. Alice Middleton.

She was the wife of a marine officer, whose long absences at sea made it convenient for her to spend these periods at Park Road.

For some time the intrigue continued, and since the sailor knew nothing about it, he did not interfere.

But the time came when, returning from sea, he could not find his wife. He spent his leave trying to trace her, but had not done so when he had to return to his ship for another voyage.

Before sailing, however, he reported the circumstances to Scotland Yard, and mentioned that the last remittance of 18 per month that he allowed his wife had not been collected from the bank.

And there the matter rested until Cecil Maltby got so deeply in debt that he dared not go out in day-time for fear of meeting the bearer of a writ or overdue bill. For a time he made stealthy trips by night to some of his old haunts, but early in January things came to such a pass, with the bailiffs waiting on the door-step, that he gave up these journeys and prepared to withstand a siege.

He barricaded the doors, using heavy furniture for the purpose, and nailed up the lower windows, but his position was hopeless, because he was so overdue with his payments that by this time his water, light, and gas had been cut off.

I spent the last three days of the siege outside the house, waiting for something to happen.

There was a large crowd there, besides the bailiffs and the police, who, having learned of Maltby's association with Mrs. Middleton, wished to interview him on the subject.

He made one concession. Hanging out of an upper window at the back of the house, he held a shouted conversation with a detective. He explained that he had heard nothing of Mrs. Middleton since she had left him the previous June, and that the only reason he had shut himself up was because he objected to bailiffs.

The blinds were closely drawn in the front, but I saw him several times at the back windows, peeping out through the curtains. He was shy of the camera, however, and always bobbed back the moment he saw me.

At about noon on the fifth day of the siege, police officers arrived to force an entry. They had a magistrate's warrant to do this, obtained through the sanitary inspector, who, like the others, had been unable to get into the house.

They first attacked the door with a jemmy, but as it did not move quickly someone broke the glass panel and a thin policeman climbed in.

He quickly let in his colleagues, and as they ran up the stairs the sound of a revolver shot rang out. Maltby had shot himself dead.

And then the house gave up its tragic secret.

In a bath they found the body of Mrs. Middleton, where it had been since the tailor had murdered her some months before.

The evidence of letters went to prove that Maltby committed his crime in a fit of jealousy ; he objected to the lady staying with her sailor husband during his leave ashore.

But he was most anxious that it should be thought she had died by her own hand. Pinned to the bed linen in which the body was wrapped was a pencilled note which read :

In loving memory of A. H. M. who committed suicide on August

and several other notes to the same effect were fixed to some of the doors.

Murder and felo-de-se against Maltby was the verdict at the inquest.



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