Leighton murder case in the spotlight

Evidence: Leslie Stone's shoe prints , recovered from the crime scene and right,  the silk scarf used in the  murder of Ruby Keen
Evidence: Leslie Stone's shoe prints , recovered from the crime scene and right, the silk scarf used in the murder of Ruby Keen

Every city, village or town has a dark side, but you don’t usually expect to see notable murder cases from your home town featuring in a national exhibition.

The Crime Museum Uncovered at the Museum of London features never before seen artefacts that make up the collection of what many know as the ‘Black Museum’ of New Scotland Yard.

The main section of the exhibition covers the period from 1905 onwards and features sections devoted to the many areas that London’s Metropolitan Police fight crime – robbery, drugs, terrorism, counterfeiting, firearms, terrorism – and of course, murder.

The murder cases picked for the exhibition are all related to important advances in crime detection, and that’s why 23-year-old victim Ruby Keen, a factory worker and resident of Leighton Buzzard is here.

She was killed by Leslie Stone, a local labourer, in the late hours of April 11, 1937 after the pair were seen drinking together in pubs including The Golden Bell, The Stag and The Cross Keys.

They were former lovers and he was keen on reconciliation (even though she was engaged to a local policeman), and they were last seen together entering The Firs, a local “lover’s lane.”

Ruby’s naked body was found the next morning; she had been raped and strangled with her own black and white polka dot scarf.

Scotland Yard was called in to help, and, working with innovative pathologist Sir Bernard Spilsbury, they took plaster casts of knee and shoe prints from the murder scene.

Sandy soil found on Stone’s recently-brushed suit also matched those from the crime scene too, and when microscopic analysis of the suit found a silk fibre from Ruby’s slip, it meant a murder charge.

After only 25 minutes a jury found Stone guilty, and he took a last journey to the hangman’s noose at Pentonville Prison in north London on August 13.

Those plaster casts, the still-knotted silk scarf – and a picture of Ruby wearing the matching dress – are on display at the exhibition.

> To find out more about the exhibtion, which runs until April, visit www.museumoflondon.org.uk/london-wall/whats-on/exhibitions-displays/the-crime-museum-uncovered.