The Unexplained: Mystery of the Erdington Murders

Images of the two women killed 157 years apart in Erdington Ward I’m Birmingham, England. Photo: The Daily Mail


The mysterious murder of two young girls happened 157 years apart, and the suspects in both had the same last name.

There is a ward in Birmingham, England known as Erdington.  Birmingham is a city to the west of Coventry in the Midlands, long known as a coal producing area.

Little Erdington may not be very well-known, but there is one reason it has gone down in history, so to speak:  The Erdington Murders.

The Erdington Murders involve two separate girls, both aged 20, and both who had gone out dancing for the evening.  They both met their fates on a May 27th.  Their lifeless bodies were found in exactly the same spot.

Sara Marie Hogg

A man with the last name of Thornton was hauled in as the most likely suspect.  In both incidents the Thornton suspect was released because not enough evidence could be gathered to bring charges and take a case to trial.

These awful murders happened 157 years apart and are still listed as unsolved.

In the most recent event, in 1974, Barbara Forrest was the victim.  She was a nurse in a home for children.  She was found in a ditch at the edge of Pype Hayes Park.  Though there were several injuries, a post mortem indicated that the cause of death was strangulation.

Barbara’s co-workers were sure one of their own had done the crime, a Michael Ian Thornton.  They even found some blood on his clothing, and his alibi evaporated.

On another May 27th, 157 years earlier, this one in 1817, Mary Ashford was found on the spot, which was a muddy pool at the time–later to be Pype Hayes Park.

Mary was covered with bruises, especially her arms, but her actual cause if death was listed as drowning.  After the attack, she must have gone unconscious in the muddy pool.

Oddly, she had been out dancing and one of her main partners had been Abraham Thornton.  After interrogating many people, the police focused on Mr. Thornton as the probable cause of her death.

A trial was held, but there was no real evidence to be had, so he walked away, acquitted.

Mary’s brother was furious and demanded Thornton be tried again.  He was able to do this by ferreting out an old law that allowed such things.

Thornton ferreted out another old law from the middle ages and demanded a Trial by Battle.  Mary’s Brother was appalled at doing physical battle with a man like Thornton, so Thornton went free again

Abraham Thornton could not get away from all the bad public opinion against him, so when he could take no more, he went to America, and a new life.

Both young women had had bad premonitions about the times surrounding their deaths.  Mary had told a friend’s mother that she had a “bad feeling about the week to come.”

And Barbara had told a co-worker that it would be an “unlucky month ahead.”

Both were right.

Please click HERE to find Sara’s true stories of the strange and unexplained, Curious Indeed, on Amazon.

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