A 1930s Leighton Buzzard murder case will feature on BBC One tomorrow morning, revisiting the death of a 23-year-old woman who was strangled in a ‘Lover’s Lane’ alleyway.
Ruby Keen was found dead and half naked in The Firs by a railway worker on the morning of April 12, 1937, having been on a pub crawl with her ex-partner Leslie Stone the night before.
The finger was quickly pointed at Stone, and after a trial lasting only two days, the jury found him guilty and he was hanged in Pentonville Prison, London, on August 13.
However, more than 80 years later, his nieces Mary and Rose are searching for answers with BBC documentary, Murder, Mystery, and My Family.
Top criminal barristers Sasha Wass and Jeremy Dein are on hand to help the pair investigate, but will they find enough evidence to convince a judge of his innocence?
A BBC One spokesman, said: “Mary and Rose, cannot believe their uncle committed such a heinous crime. They want to learn more about his character and the case that was kept a secret from them by their mother.
“Jeremy and Sasha delve deep into the archives to re-examine witness testimony and forensic evidence which was groundbreaking for its day and includes physical exhibits that still exist in the Metropolitan Police’s crime museum.
“Leaving no stone unturned, will they be able to find enough new evidence to convince the judge that Leslie’s conviction for murder was unsafe?”
Ruby Keen had known Leslie Stone since 1931, but the couple gradually lost touch after Stone began serving in the Royal Artillery and was posted to Hong Kong. In late 1936, Stone was medically discharged and came back to Leighton Buzzard to work as a builder’s labourer.
The pair then met by chance in The Golden Bell on April 4, 1937, but by then Ruby was engaged to a policeman.
Ruby and Stone met again for a pub crawl one week later on April 11 - the night of her death.
The pair were seen drinking in The Golden Bell, The Cross Keys and then the Stag Hotel.
An eyewitness said they left The Stag at about 10pm and it is alleged that Stone was trying to convince Ruby, who was a factory worker, to call off her engagement to the policeman.
But Ruby would never make it home to her fiancé, and was found dead in The Firs the next morning.
A BBC spokesman added: “She had been strangled with her own scarf, and her clothes were ripped off, sparking suspicion of sexual assault.”
Fast forward to tomorrow’s BBC documentary, and the LBO wonders whether it will be difficult to prove Stone’s innocence?
During the original investigation, Scotland Yard worked together with pathologist Sir Bernard Spilsbury, and took plaster casts of Stone’s knee and shoe prints from the murder scene.
Sandy soil found on Stone’s recently-brushed suit also matched those from the crime scene, and microscopic analysis of the suit found a silk fibre from Ruby’s slip.
Furthermore, during the trial, Stone denied any involvement and gave a false alibi, before admitting the pair had fought and said that Ruby’s clothes had fallen off - but the jury weren’t convinced and took only 25 minutes to decide a verdict of guilty.
However, talking about the BBC series, Jeremy Dein told Who Do You Think You Are? Magazine: “There are some really staggering examples of miscarriage of justice.”
The plaster casts, the still-knotted silk scarf – and a picture of Ruby wearing the matching dress – have previously been on display at the Museum of London for a Crime Museum Uncovered exhibition.
Murder, Mystery and My Family is on tomorrow on BBC One at 9.15am.