"...we should pass over all biographies of 'the good and the great,' while we search carefully the slight records of wretches who died in prison, in Bedlam, or upon the gallows."
~Edgar Allan Poe

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Newspaper Clipping of the Day


In 1939, an elderly Englishwoman named Ada Constance Kent disappeared. Robbery was soon ruled out as a possible motive.  Her cottage was found to be in perfect condition and nothing seemed missing--except Ada--but no clue to her whereabouts could be found.

Then, ten years later, at the request of her bank, her home in Essex was searched one more time. A skeleton was discovered in her bedroom.

Mystery solved, right?

Well…not necessarily. All the skeleton did was elevate this missing-person case from the ordinary, if puzzling, to the downright bizarre. Kent’s cottage had been carefully searched at least three times since her disappearance. Her friends were adamant that there was no way they could have missed a body lying by her bed. It must have been there only since the last time her home was inspected in 1942.

The newspaper reports are maddeningly contradictory about the identity of this skeleton. Some accounts say Scotland Yard did not believe this body was that of the missing lady—which would simply be piling weird upon weird—but most reports assert this was indeed her, and it is a fact that shortly after this body was found, a death certificate was issued for Kent.

But even if this was the missing Ada Kent, how do we explain her wandering bones?

7 comments:

  1. Follow the money...who benefited from a or any body being found?

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    1. Interesting point, I've wondered about that myself. As far as I can tell from the newspaper reports, no one benefited. No relatives were ever mentioned, or even anyone that was close to her. She seems to have been a solitary sort, virtually alone in the world.

      She did have some money in the bank, though. It would be nice to know who, if anyone, ever inherited it.

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  2. It does seem unlikely that searchers looking for a body could have missed one lying in the bed. If the cottage hadn't been lived in between 1942 and 1949 - and someone knew it - the dead person in the bed could have been a homeless tramp, or someone on leave during the war looking for a convenient place to have a lie-down. I wonder why the bank insisted on the cottage being searched again.

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    1. I'd really like to know how they decided the skeleton was Kent's, but that doesn't seem to be recorded anywhere. I get the impression they just "assumed" it was hers.

      As for why the bank wanted the house searched--some stories indicate that there was some sort of activity on her account, but others just say that the bank wanted to know what to do with her money. Still other stories give the impression that the house was searched again "just for the heck of it."

      This is one of those mysteries where all the published accounts are maddeningly vague.

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  3. Odd – most other articles I have read indicate that the skeleton was NOT hers. One even mentions that it could have been a man's skeleton. Also, some report that the skeleton, which was fully dressed, was placed before a plate of fresh food, while another notes it was beside a bottle marked "POISON". From the Unsolved Mysteries Wikia:

    “...Ada Constance Kent was a wealthy spinster who lived alone in a cottage near Whalebone Corner, Fingringhoe, Essex. After she vanished in 1939, the local police searched her cottage for clues but found no trace of her. Years later, in April 1948, there was a mysterious deposit to her bank account and the police returned to the cottage to look for Ada again. They found her fully-clothed skeletal remains positioned at a table before a fresh plate of food. The British authorities are unaware of who returned her body to the house. Surprisingly, police later determined that the remains were not Ada's, and to this day, Ada remains missing. The skeleton has never been identified...”

    Certainly a very bizarre case. I wonder if any more recent testing or forensics have been done on the skeleton to try and gain more information about it, or possibly identify it?

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    1. That detail about the skeleton sitting at a table seems to be an urban legend that was invented later. It definitely doesn't appear in any of the contemporary newspaper accounts.

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  4. It may, or may not, be of interest but George Wynkoll hanged himself a couple of years later.

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