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Classification: Murderer
Characteristics: Rape
Number of victims: 1
Date of murder: November 2, 1940
Date of arrest: November 15, 1940
Date of birth: 1912
Victim profile: Mary Hagan, 15
Method of murder: Strangulation
Location: Liverpool, Merseyside, England, Gran BretaŮa
Status: Executed by hanging at Walton prison on April 4, 1941

The sexually assaulted body of fifteen-year-old Mary Hagan was found on 2nd November 1940 in a concrete blockhouse in Liverpool. She had been strangled. Nearby was a piece of material that proved to come from a military medical dressing and had been used on a finger or thumb. There was also a fresh bootprint among the muddy debris on the floor.

Samuel Morgan, a 28-year-old soldier AWOL from the the Irish Guards at Seaforth Barracks, was detained a couple of days later in London. He said that the cut on his thumb had been caused by barbed wire. He had dressed it with his own field dressing. Forensic analysis determined that the two parts of the bandage matched precisely, dirt on Morgan's uniform matched soil samples taken from the murder scene and his boot matched the cast taken..

Morgan was duly charged, tried and found guilty. He was hanged at Walton Jail, Liverpool, on 4th April 1941.


The bandaged killer soldier

When soldier Samuel Morgan raped and murdered 15 year old Mary Hagan he left behind a vital clue - a bandage which he had used to tend his injured thumb.

On the evening of 2nd November 1940, Mary disappeared while buying a newspaper and cigarettes for her father in Waterloo, north of Liverpool. Search parties were set up and that same night Mary's body was found in a concrete blockhouse which was used as an anti-invasion fortress. In the muddy vicinity was a clear impression of a boot heel, an army bandage which had been used to treat a thumb wound which was stained with zinc ointment, as well as a chocolate bar wrapper containing traces of zinc ointment. It was found that Mary had eaten this chocolate bar, meaning whoever had worn the bandage had come into contact with Mary. The conclusion was that of the wearer of the bandage could be found, then police had the killer.

There were thousands of troops stationed in the North West, but a waitress came forward to say a soldier with a cut on his face had asked her if he could clean up in her house, claiming to have been in a fight. A month earlier, a cyclist Anne McVittie, had been robbed by a soldier on a canal bank a mile from where Mary was killed and the descriptions in both incidents were familar.

17 days after the murder, Irish guard Sam Morgan was being held in London over the McVittie robbery and had a healed scar on his thumb. Morgan's house in Seaforth was searched and a bandage cloth was found which matched that from the murder scene. Soil samples from there were also found on his uniform. Witnesses identified Morgan as having been seen near the scene of the crime and a local pub landlord said he had been in his pub the same night, sporting a bloodstained cap. Morgan's boots matched a cast taken from the footprint found next to the body.

Faced with this evidence, Morgan admitted robbing cigarettes and money from Mary but denied rape and murder. He was found guilty without much deliberation and hanged on 4th April 1941.


A missing teenager

The night of 2 November 1940 was cold and damp. 15 year-old Mary Hagan was running an errand for her parents, getting them a copy of the Liverpool Echo and a packet of cigarette papers.

When Mary failed to return, her family contacted the police, who immediately began to search for the missing teenager.

The scene of the crime

The next day Mary Haganís body was found lying just inside an unmanned wartime pillbox, on the bridge close to Maryís house. Among the people called to the scene was Dr James Firth, head of the

Home Office forensic science lab at Preston. Scouring the area for clues, he saw that as well as a newspaper and a half-eaten bar of chocolate, a small piece of fabric lay near to the body. It was a muddy and bloodstained bandage. He could also see a bloody thumbprint on one side of the young girlís bruised neck. The post mortem revealed that Mary had died as a result of asphyxiation.

The bloodstained bandage

A woman came forward to say that late on the night of the murder she had been asked the way to the barracks by a soldier. She had noticed that there were scratches on his face.

When the police questioned officers at the Royal Seaforth barracks, they came up with a suspect. Samuel Morgan was a local man and a private in the Irish Guard. He was already suspected of being involved in an attack on a woman, but had deserted two months earlier. Morganís family were questioned and admitted to harbouring him while he had been AWOL from the army. He had stayed with an older brother and his wife.

Crucially, she told police she remembered that Morgan had cut his thumb on 31 October, two days before the killing of Mary Hagan. She had dressed this wound, applying a bandage and zinc ointment taken from Morganís army field dressing kit. Laboratory tests established that the piece of bandage found at the murder scene matched it exactly. Morgan was found guilty of murder and executed on 4 April 1941.


Mary Hagan, 15, the victim.


Samuel Morgan on his way to court dressed in military uniform.



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