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 Horace Manton



Horace William Manton


Luton Sack murders


Kill Total: 1

Kill date:

November 1943

Kill Place:

Luton, Bedfordshire




Fire engine driver


Wife - Caroline




Bedford Assizes
Case No:  








External References





19th November 1943, When some workman who were walking along a river track saw a sack floating in the River Lea near the Vauxhall factory in Luton they wanted to know what it contained.

When they fished the sack out of the water they were shocked and horrified to see it contained the body of a middle aged woman.

She was naked and had been strangled and then, it would appear, beaten so severely as to try and hide her identity, her wrists and ankles were also tied.

The police were called, they moved the sack from the mucky water, discovered that there were actually two sacks, in these days before forensics, the body and sacks were then removed by the police. Photographs of the woman were shown at local cinemas, shops and pubs.


February 1944 Police were searching household waste on a local tip, when they spotted a dog playing with a piece of material it turned out to be a piece of a woman's coat that had a dry-cleaning tag on it. The mark was traced to Mrs Caroline Manton who, when they checked they found had handed the coat in for dyeing in the previous November.

When they spoke to Mrs Manton's husband who was a Fire Brigade driver known as 'Bertie', he denied that the photos were of his wife and told police that his wife had left him to live with her brother.

To back this up he showed them letters that he said had been written by his wife since the previous December. Officers noticed that in all the letters a simple spelling mistake was evident. It was in the word 'Hampstead' which in all cases had been written as 'Hamstead'. The police asked him for a sample of his handwriting and they noticed that he too mispelt the same word.

When the police searched the house they found it had been so thoroughly cleaned that an examination only managed to locate a single fingerprint belonging to its former occupant.

This was found on a pickle jar in an under stairs cupboard. As the woman had lived in the house for many years they would have expected the house to be covered in her prints so it showed that Bertie Manton had tried to remove all sign's, but why if she had simply left him?

Satisfied that they had got the right man they arrested and charged him with the murder of his wife. Realising that there was no way out he confessed to killing his wife. He said that they had quarrelled and that he had hit her with a stool. He had wheeled her body to the river on his bicycle and dumped it into the water.


He appeared for trial at Bedford Assizes and was found guilty and sentenced to death. The sentence was commuted to life imprisonment and he died in Parkhurst prison on the isle of Wight three years later in 1947



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