1953 Amber Hill Murder Story
Skegness Couple Jailed
The trial of Maisie Violet Walters (pictured left), 24 of North Shore Road, Skegness, for the murder of her three-year-old daughter, Jacqueline Carol Walters, at Amber Hill, near Boston, took place at Lincolnshire Assises in 1953.
Her husband, Reginald Walters (pictured below), 27, stood trail with her as an accessory to the murder.
Maisie Walters was born in Mansfield in 1928, her maiden name being Wyeld, and her mother’s maiden name Naylor.
The couple were married in Mansfield in 1946 and lived in Skegness up till March 1953 when he gained employment with a farmer and was allowed to tenant Crimea Cottage at Amber Hill, near Boston.
The two accused went there on March 28th, taking their two children with them. Mrs Walters was about eight months pregnant, and delivered her third child on May 4th.
The child Jacqueline was last seen about April 26th.
About the same date an odd event occured – a poultry farmer was worried because two dogs, one of which belonged to Mr Walters, were worrying his poultry. The farmer, Pocklington, shot the stray dog, a Collie, and deposited it in Walters’ garden. He regarded Walters responsible and did not want to be bothered in disposing of the carcase.
Probably on April 27th Walters went to the nearby Crimea Inn and borrowed a spade saying he wanted to bury a dog.
On that day, Mrs Walters was within ten days of delivering her third child. She was attended by a nurse who asked where Jacqueline was. The nurse made the same enquiry a few days later and again on the 4th May. Mrs Walters said that the child was with her uncle in London and was perfectly alright.
The nurse made the same enquiry about two weeks later and was told by Mrs Walters that Jacqueline was quite alright and that she would be away about three months. She gave a neighbour the same information. Mr Walters told almost exactly the same story.
In June, Mrs Walters left Crimea Cottage, taking her children with her, and went to Skegness. Two or three weeks later Walters told Farmer Ward that he had found a house in Skegness and would have to leave the very next day, July 4th.
On the 5th July, a prospective tenant inspected the cottage and discovered on the wall spots and marks which he took to be blood.
On the 9th July, the police went to Skegness and interviewed Mrs Walters. The woman gave the same answer as before – that the child was with her uncle in London.
On the same day, police asked Mr Walters at Ingoldmells where Jacqueline was. Walters said he did not know, except that she was with his wife’s mother. Walters became confused upon further questioning. Later that day the police returned to Mrs Walters, telling her what her husband had said. She said no, the child was with the uncle. She added that she wasn’t sure that she had told her husband where the child was, and said that she was becoming confused due to her bad memory.
On 10th July, police dogs were taken into the garden of Crimea Cottage where they scented the carcase of a buried dog. On digging down 10 inches deeper, police discovered the human remains of a young child.
Mrs Walters was told of the discovery and immediately said: “Don’t say anything more, I know all about it.”
She then made a statement saying that she’d been unwell for some time. One morning she had got up and made a pot of tea for herself and her two children. She went into the pantry and when she came out she saw Jacqueline standing over baby Susan with the boiling hot teapot in her hand. She dived at the child and must have hit her then fainted. When she came to, Jacqueline was just lying there.
Mrs Walters stated that she then panicked, not for herself but for Susan and the baby she was going to have. She put the child in a clean sack and in the coal-house for the time being. She had told her husband that the child had been fetched away as she was too frightened to tell him what had happened.
While her husband was having his tea, she put the body of her child in the hole dug in the garden for the dog and threw some soil on it so that her husband would not know.
A post-mortem was carried out on the child’s body on the 10th July, which revealed the cause of death as internal hemorrhage in the lung and by shock following a blow on the chest. Death probably took place two or three hours later.
Various witnesses gave evidence during the trial, the public gallery was packed with mostly women.
Mrs Barbara Jean Evans, of Doncaster, said she knew accused at Skegness the year before, adding that Jacqueline was treated cruelly and Mrs Walter had said that she thought the child was insane.
When Mr Walters was called to give evidence he said that his wife had never smacked Jacqueline but made her stand in a corner if she was naughty.
The pathologist said that he had gone to Crimea Cottage on 10th July to examine the body which was in a sack in the hole. It was the body of a three-year-old girl dressed in a cotton nightdress and vest. It had been placed in the sack head first. There was extensive decomposition – he though it had been dead for two to three months.
The injuries he found were consistent with having been caused by a severe blow in the lower part of the chest He didn’t think this could have been achieved with an open hand. A kick could also have caused the injuries.
The pathologist stated that the injury could have been caused accidentally, by a fall from a height of about five feet onto a hard protruding object.
Another witness, a Mr Mansfield said he saw Jacqueline playing in the garden of Crimea Cottage on 26th April. Later the same day he saw Mr Walters pushing Susan in a pram, Walters volunteering the information that his brother had come up from London by car and had taken Jacqueline away with him,
A Mrs Evans said she never saw Mr Walters hit the child but the mother hit her often with her hand. She added the child was always covered in bruises on the legs and thighs.
Josephine Mary Wheld, aged 13 (?), Mrs Walters’ sister, said that the previous summer she had stayed in a caravan in Skegness with the accused and Jacqueline. She stayed with them for about two months. Miss Wyeld said the accused were not good to Jacqueline. The man Walters used to hit her in the stomach with his hand, sometimes for no reason. He also held her upside down with her feet and if she cried he would drop her.
The witness said that both of the parents were kind to Susan.
There were inconsistencies in Mr and Mrs Walters’ stories – one said the brother had come to fetch the child by train but another said he came by car.
Little Jacqueline was buried at Boston Cemetery after a five-minute service at the Parish Church where she was baptized exactly three years but one day previously. Following the tiny white coffin, on which was laid a solitary crimson wreath, were two mourners. In the church there were two others – both women.
Maisie Violet Walters and Reginal Walters were both jailed for murder.
This story was covered in great depth in the local newspapers, and I have related only a small portion of it here. Because I have attempted to type the story in my own words, it reflects only the jist of the story and does not document the whole legal proceedings. Please consult the original newspaper cuttings below.
The child which Maisie Violet Walters was expecting, was born in the June Quarter of 1953 in the Boston Registration District- a boy named Reginald D Walters.
Baby Susan C Walters was born in the September Quarter of 1951 in the Bournemouth registration district.
Jacqueline C Walters was born in the Nottingham registration district in the December Quarter of 1949.
Source: Skegness Standard 15th July 1953
Source: Skegness Standard: 12th August 1953