Who Put Bella in the Wych Elm?

On April 18th 1943, a mystery unfolded which would puzzle the nation.


The scene sets in Hagley Woods, Worcestershire in the UK; where World War II was still in uproar, four young local boys were out in the woods when they discovered a human skull inside a hollow tree trunk. The boys were out to poach, and found something that would haunt them forever. This sparked fear within the young boys and they made a pact to never talk about what they found; which is later broken after one of the young boys (Tommy Willets) had told his father. 

Immediately, Tommy's father contacted police, where they went to retrieve the unknown skull. The skull had a chunk of hair still attached to the remaining flesh of the unknown skull. The remains of the person left very distinctive characteristics, two crooked teeth. This was a good start to begin a lead to who this skull once was. 

Police reached out to all dentists around the local area, to see if records could match the distinct teeth. The police were stumped as nothing matched. So who was this body found?

Reports came that the skeleton remains were of a woman, the boys had only seen her head, yet she was an almost complete body, minus her hand. Discovery led to some gruesome traits to the mysterious murder. The woman had a piece of taffeta embedded in her mouth, she still had her wedding ring, her shoes and her clothes strangely had labels cut out. Her other hand were found in remains not far away from the tree. The woman's body was taken in for examination and it was founded that she had been dead for almost 18 months. It was also founded that she had to have been placed in the tree within three to four hours after death; as rigor mortis would take place, meaning her body would be too stiff to be placed in a tree in a such condensed space. As for her cause of death it had been conspired that it was due to asphyxiation.

The search had started to who this victim was. The police had suffered a lot of struggles and leads which would soon vanish. With many people going missing during the period of World War II, going through all records would be extremely difficult. However, the police did, and within the circumstances of this women death it had no correlation to any other missing person. The police had hit a stand still.

In 1944, graffiti had been discovered on a wall in Upper Dean Street, Birmingham which said "Who put Bella down the wych elm- Hagley Wood". In addition to this, it sparked a mass of conspiracy and questions within every household. This had some leads to it as the police now had a possible name or nickname to the woman found in the wych elm. More graffiti began to appear, which could have been the original person, or people simply joining in to be a part of the buzz. However, it did appear to be the same hand, could they truly know what happened?

This is really where the end of evidence came in. Now it was left all down to conspiracies and what had happened to this poor woman. The first and popular theory was that Bella was victim to a coven of witches and that she was sacrificed. This soon went cold, and so did the case all together. This was until 1953, where journalist Wilfred Byford-Jones, brought the case to light again in the newspaper. He had received a letter which was signed off by 'Anna'. The letter had stated she had been murdered for being involved with a Nazi spy ring. Anna started to unfold which could be the truth. She stated that her husband had worked in a local factory, when he had strangely come into some more money after meeting a Dutch man. Her husband admitted to this man being a Nazi agent. The two men had been swapping information about local industry sites. Her husband had apparently sparked an argument in the local pub with a dutchwoman, where she ordered him to drive some people to Clent hills, which in fear, he did just that. Anna stated that in the back of the car a woman had been strangled to death during the course of her husband driving. Her husband had then been forced to hide her body in the tree. A year later her husband had died, believing to be from trauma of what he had committed. 

To this day, there's still speculation to what happened to 'Bella'. Was she involved in a Nazi spy ring? Or was she just in the wrong place at the wrong time? It baffles me to think that a woman could go missing, then with the media latching onto the story and spreading it like wildfire, and no one even has an idea who she is. Someone out there knows. So the public is left with a cold case and frustration. Who put Bella in the wych elm?


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Who Put Bella in the Wych Elm?
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