The claw hammer

She didn’t deserve it. Not like that.  A crying shame. A waste.

Natalia Kasper was young beautiful and had only lived in England for two years. A mother of a young boy. Making her way in the world.  Her whole life before her. She had dreams of making her home in England. To raise her son. To get married maybe to a nice man. Instead she was bludgeoned to death by a claw hammer. By her employer who she had befriended and trusted. The elegant Frances Pearce.

One minute a young Polish woman  was folding the ironing And the next her head was being caved in. No warning. No motive. No reason. Twenty five savage, brutal blows  that scattered her brains across the kitchen floor.  

The pathologist at the autopsy described it as the most brutal and frenzied attack he had ever come across in a crime scene.

What was also surprising was the force that the murderer generated. Especially considering that Frances Pearce was a slim graceful lady with no upper body strength to speak of.

She had been a successful solicitor in her time working in corporate law in London. But at the age of fifty five had decided to retire and move down to the village of Poynings in East Sussex just under the shadow of the South Downs. According to neighbours she was charming, intelligent, well read and active in the village community. She was often seen riding her horse across the downs and then stopping off for a small white wine at the Shepherd and Dog in the nearby village of Fulking.

Although on reflection neighbours had recalled to the police investigators that Frances Pearce had been in a slightly strange mood before the atrocity.  People who knew her and said that she seemed rather agitated and preoccupied and was heard rambling on about biblical references on more than one occasion. But the locals thought that if she was feeling a little down, a little  moody possibly  then young Beata was absolutely the right person to keep her spirits up. Well, they were wrong there.

It was three hours after the poor young Polish woman  had been battered to death that the murder was discovered.

When the police got there twenty minutes after the alarm was raised by a distraught neighbour sirens wailing through the quiet village, not only did they find the body of Beata but also that of Frances Pearce hanging from the garage ceiling. It appeared that she had very purposely tied a length of washing line around a pipe. She had then created a perfect noose for the purpose, climbed up on a chair, placed the rope around her neck and simply kicked the chair away.

The pathologist said that it would have taken her two or three minutes to choke to death but there seemed no evidence of any struggle or attempt by her to release the rope. She most certainly would have wanted to die.

It did not take the talents of Sherlock Holmes to come to the conclusion that Frances Pearce was the murderer. Her prints were all over the claw hammer. A great deal of her DNA was evident on Beata and her blood stained shoes lead to the short walk to the garage.

No. The puzzle for the police was not who the attacker was. That was self evident – but why?

Why would the highly civilised Frances Pearce batter to death an innocent young woman. And why with such force. What made her commit this senseless frenzied murder.

Over the next six months the police interviewed the entire village at length but could still find no clue or justification for her actions. There had been no extraordinary events for example  that might have sparked the attack. It was a mystery. It just seemed that Frances Pearce had changed character virtually  overnight from a polite professional woman one day into a crazed lunatic the next.


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