THE CASE OF WILLIAM HERBERT WALLACE

By Tim Lambert

Julia Wallace was murdered in 1931. The case remains unsolved. Her husband William Herbert Wallace was born in 1878. For a time William worked in India then in Shanghai. However health problems meant he had to return to England in 1907. He married Julia in 1914. In 1915 they moved to Liverpool where William worked as an insurance agent. For 16 years the couple lived lived ordinary lives but everything changed on 19 January 1931. William Wallace, then aged 52 was a member of Central Chess Club in Liverpool. That evening he was on his way to the club when someone phoned. The man called himself R M Qualtrough and said he wanted Wallace to visit him at 25 Menlove Gardens East (a non-existent address) the next evening at 7.30 pm to talk about insurance. When Wallace arrived at the club he was told about the phone call but he did not know the man. The next evening William Wallace took a tram to Menlove Avenue and began to look for Menlove Gardens East. Wallace asked for directions from several people, including a policeman. But although there was Menlove Gardens West, North and South there was no such street as Menlove Gardens East. Wallace eventually gave up the search and went home.

When he arrived at his house in Wolverton Street William Wallace told his neighbours that he could not get in through the front or back door. However as the neighbours watched he tried the back door again and it opened. Indoors he found the body of Julia Wallace. She had been bludgeoned to death. Oddly William's raincoat was left under Julia's body. Some money had been stolen from a box in the kitchen. However the police began to suspect that Wallace himself had made the phone call to his club then killed Julia the next evening before going to 'search' for the non-existent Menlove Gardens East hoping it would give him an alibi. Yet the person who took the phone call said it sounded nothing like Wallace. The police traced the phone call to a public phone box only a short distance from the house where Wallace lived. If he had made the phone call it would have left him only a short time to get to the chess club and arrive when he did. There was also no apparent motive for William to kill Julia Wallace. Neighbours said the couple seemed contented and Julia's life was only insured for a small amount of money. Furthermore there were no blood stains on William Wallace. But the police thought he may have stripped and worn the raincoat when he killed Julia. The time of death was, at first determined as about 8 pm but it was later changed to 6.30 pm

The Trial of William Herbert Wallace

Nevertheless William Wallace was arrested on 2 February 1931. The and he went on trial for murder on 22 April 1931. The case against him was purely circumstantial. A milk delivery boy testified that he spoke to Julia Wallace just minutes before William would have had to leave to catch a tram to Menlove Avenue. That would have left him very little time to murder his wife, wearing a raincoat and stage a robbery before dressing himself and catching a tram. Despite the lack of evidence William Herbert Wallace was found guilty of the murder of his wife Julia and he was sentenced to death. However the Court of Appeal quashed the conviction on the grounds there was insufficient evidence to exclude the possibility that someone else committed the murder. However William Herbert Wallace became ill. He died on 26 February 1933 aged 54. He was buried alongside Julia in Anfield Cemetery. The case remains a mystery.

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