A notorious Leighton Buzzard murder from nearly 80 years ago has been retold in the UK’s first pub murder guide.
It might seem an odd combination, but Luton-born author James Moore has found some 250 pub-related murders to fill his book, Murder at the Inn: A History Of Crime In Britain’s Pubs and Hotels.
And among them is the 1937 murder of factory worker Ruby Keen, found strangled in The Firs in Leighton Buzzard.
Ruby, an attractive 23-year-old, had enjoyed a pub crawl around Leighton with her ex-boyfriend Leslie Stone on the night she was killed.
The author said: “The history of Britain’s pubs, inns and hotels has gone hand in hand with the history of crime.
“Now, for the first time we link pubs that can still be found today with captivating and sometimes horrifying tales from their past.”
Ruby Keen had known her killer 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.
By then, Ruby had moved on and was engaged to a policeman.
The former couple bumped into each other in the Golden Bell on April 4 1937. A week later, they met each other in the same pub again.
The pair drank and went to the Cross Keys and then to the Stag Hotel. Stone allegedly pressured Ruby to call off her engagement. They were seen leaving the Stag Hotel about 10pm. The next morning, Ruby’s partially-clothed body was found at The Firs. Stone denied any involvement and gave a false alibi, before admitting the pair had fought and said Ruby’s clothes had fallen off. The jury weren’t convinced and Stone was hanged in prison that year.
Murder at the Inn: A History of Crime in Britain’s Pubs and Hotels is out now.