Facts about Fred

There is not much we know for certain in this case. However, there are basic facts we adhere to in our investigation:

Who 

  • Male, 5ft 8in tall
  • Estimated age mid-twenties to late thirties
  • Below average build, small hands, well-kept nails
  • Short, light reddish-brown hair, much shorter than usual in late sixties
  • Very bad teeth for his age, undergone extensive dental treatment
  • Prominent underbite – bottom front teeth overlapped top front (bottom jaw protruded)
  • Unusual upper partial denture by UK standard common at the time
  • Latest dental work likely performed around 6 months before he died, dental records untraceable though
  • Potential torticollis (neck condition causing the head to tilt) – only discovered in 2007
  • Never reported missing in the UK (not missed by a wife, an employer, a family or friends…)
  • Plain cheap golden wedding ring on a “wrong” (right) hand in the UK
  • Naked except mustardy nylon socks (not pink)

    TV documentary

    ATV Today: 30.11.1971: Burton-on-Trent Murder Mystery

     

    When

    • March 26, 1971 – discovery of a skull by David Nathan
    • March 27, 1971 – full body dug up in presence of a pathologist, police investigation begins
    • Post-mortem performed by Keith Mant from King´s College London
    • Decomposition suggested death 9 – 18 months before discovery
    • Autopsy report:
      • Fingerprints available and intact
      • Red flesh still present in abdomen area
      • Some hair still in place

    How

    • Body found in kneeling, squatting position – body upright
    • Right arm dragged across the body and left arm behind it
    • Wrists loosely tied with the same piece of twine
    • Ankles tied similarly – third twine joins the two
    • Common industrial light-blue polypropylene twine – made in Yorkshire
    • Open coroner verdict = not possible to determine the cause of death BASED ON REMAINS
    • No visible injuries, denture still in place (suggesting no blows to the head)
    • Pathologist suggested “deviant sexual practice” (binding) leading to asphyxiation as probable cause of death – no twine around the neck though
    • Remark of marks on top of his back in the book by Michael Posner
    • Causes of death like smothering, drowning, poisoning, heart attack, stabbing without scratching any bone etc. CANNOT BE EXCLUDED

      Where

      • Shallow grave (3ft 7in deep) in light sandy soil
      • Island on river Trent at Winshill (Burton on Trent)
      • At the time land was used by Greensmith’s Mill located on the opposite side of the river (cleaning of a weir)
      • Before 1971 the island was accessible from Winshill by a bridge with a locked gate
      • Access to keys restricted to senior employees of the mill, David Nathan and a farmer
      • Burial site – wooded area, remote location with restricted access = very safe for those with knowledge
      • Unusual shape of the grave most likely easiest to fit the body (rigor mortis or an already existing cavity caused by a flood?)
      • Naked body – either died naked or clothes removed to prevent identification (possibly distinctive clothes, uniform?)
      • Twine might have been used for transportation of the body (“moveable package”)

      The ring and its significance in the timeline

      • 9ct gold wedding band – the plainest possible
      • Found on right-hand wedding ring finger
      • 18mm inside diameter = O1/2 UK ring size
      • Considered a common female size, unusually small for a man – lowest 8% of male hands
      • UK hallmark present = manufactured in England
      • Hallmark date “S” signifies date of manufacturing within last 6 months of 1967 and first 6 months of 1968
      • Time needs to be allowed for manufacturer to sell to retailer and retailer to sell ring – probably minimum 3 months
      • Not sold BEFORE 1968, earliest possible date of sale spring 1969

      Help us solve Fred’s mysterious death. Send us your tips, theories or finds. 

      Blog

      Fred the Head

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