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Leslie George STONE





Classification: Murderer
Characteristics: Rape
Number of victims: 1
Date of murder: April 11, 1937
Date of birth: 1912
Victim profile: Ruby Anne Keen, 23
Method of murder: Strangulation with a black scarf that she had been wearing
Location: Leighton Buzzard, Bedfordshire, England, United Kingdom
Status: Executed by hanging at Pentonville Prison on August 13, 1937

Ruby Anne Keen was a 23-year-old factory worker who lived with her widowed mother, elder sister and brother in Leighton Buzzard. She was an attractive girl who enjoyed the attentions of the young men in the district.

Leslie Stone had known Ruby since 1931 but he was serving in the Royal Artillery and the following year was posted to Hong Kong. While he was away the couple started out by writing to each other but after a year or so Ruby wrote less and less often. She had become involved with a local policeman and in 1936 they became engaged.

In December 1936 Stone was given a medical discharge from the army and got a job as a builder's labourer in Leighton Buzzard. On 4th April 1937 Leslie Stone saw Ruby in a local pub called the Golden Bell. He bought her a drink. One week later when Ruby called in the Golden Bell on her way home from a church service Leslie Stone was in the pub waiting for her. After three pints for Stone and a port for Ruby the pair went to the Cross Keys and then to the Stag Hotel.

Customers in the pubs were later to testify that Stone was trying to persuade the girl to break off her engagement to the policeman and get back together with him again. After drinking another couple of pints of mild for Stone and two more ports for Ruby the couple left about 10pm. They were seen by a couple of people who watched them enter the Firs, a local lover's lane.

The following morning at 7am the almost naked body of Ruby Keen was found in the Firs by Mr Cox who worked on the railways and was on his way to work. She had been strangled with a black scarf that she had been wearing and there were signs that a fierce struggle had taken place.

That afternoon Stone called at the home of PC McCarthy. The officer was not at home but his wife described Stone as agitated and worried. Stone had told her that he had heard about Ruby's death and, as he had been with the girl the previous evening he felt the police would want to talk to him and he wanted to clear his name. He made a statement to Leighton Buzzard police in which he stated that he had left Ruby outside the Stag at about 10.15 and had gone home alone, reaching there about 10.45. This was in contrast to what others had said.

The police had found a couple who had been taking a shortcut along the Firs about 10.30pm and who said that they had seen the girl, in the shadows, in the arms of a policeman. Scotland Yard was called in and CI Barker arrived to take over the case. He interviewed Ruby's fiancee who, it transpired, had not seen Ruby since the previous Sunday and had been on duty in the village of Hockcliffe, three miles away, at the time of the killing. It was determined that whoever had killed Ruby had knelt astride the girl as he strangled her. Plaster casts were made of the impressions in the sandy soil and Sir Bernard Spilsbury determined a clear imprint of the material.

Sample pairs of trousers were taken from all the possible suspects in the case. When Spilsbury examined Stone's brand-new suit trousers he found that the knees had been brushed so hard that the nap had been worn away. Microscopic examination of the trousers showed up particles of sandy soil that matched that from the scene of the crime. There was also found, in the lining of Stone's jacket, a silk fibre that matched with those taken from the dead girl's underskirt. Armed with this evidence the police were satisfied and on Wednesday 24th April 1937 Stone was charged with murder.

Stone's trial opened at the Old Bailey on Monday 28th June before Lord Chief Justice, Lord Hewart. When Stone went into the witness box to give evidence he decided to change his story. He now told the court, that they had quarreled and she had hit him. Without realising what he was doing he had choked her. He said that her clothes had fallen off as they fell over as they struggled. He also said that when he left her she had only been stunned and he had expected her to revive.

The jury only took twenty-five minutes to find him guilty and he was sentenced to death. Stone was hanged at Pentonville Prison on Friday 13th August 1937 aged 24.



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