Who put Bella in the Wych Elm?
It was a Sunday morning; the days couldn’t have been darker than they were in April 1943 during WW2. Four teenage boys of the town made a wrong decision of going for a bird hunt in the woods. What followed their trip was horrifying. Discovery of a human skull inside a tree trunk, that led towards a mystery that’s still unsolved 75 years later. The mystery that we know by the graffiti Who put Bella in the Wych Elm?
What happened that Sunday?
All the 4 boys were illegally searching for the bird nests at a private estate named Hagley Woods near Birmingham in England’s Midlands. Suddenly they spotted an ancient old wych-elm tree. It looked scary enough for them to not go near, but 15-year- old curious Bob Farmer climbed up on it. A farmer saw something that became his nightmare, it was terrible for a 15-year-old.
After climbing up as he looked down the hollowed trunk, he noticed something scary staring back at him from the dark inside. The teenager lost his mind when he realized that it was a Human Skeleton.
Long dried hairs, hanging off whatever the flash was remaining on the forehead, and a couple crooked teeth gape out of the mouth. The boys took quite long to overcome their horrifying found, after that, they put it back in the tree and ran away from the woods.
They decided among themselves that they won’t tell anyone about it, as they were doing all the illegal activities enough to lend them in legal trouble.
But it wasn’t something that teenagers could easily let drown out. One boy soon lost his control and told his father about all, they called the police to the area. What police found inside was even more Horrifying and bizarre.
They found out something Bizarre
They found out that it was a Skeleton of a young woman with a missing hand. The mouth of the skull was stuffed with a piece of taffeta. Some remains of the cloths with the labels cut out. In the tree, they also found battered shoes and a gold ring.
They found the bones of the woman’s hand scattered nearby the tree. The unusual circumstances of the death of the woman raised a lot of suspicions and questions. Some even claimed that there were some sinister forces at work in Hagley Wood.
With the help of Pathologist James Webster, police found out that the victim died almost 18 months ago at the nearby age of 35. She had mousy colored hairs and was no more than 5ft in her height. She has given birth in the past and had an irregular set of teeth.
What may be the reason for her death? Did someone kill her, or it was something more than that?
The pathologist couldn’t find any obvious injuries that could have been the reason for her death. They guessed that she might have died due to suffocation by the cloth stuffed down her throat. They also believe that she must have been put inside the tree right after her death, as space inside was tight enough to not let her fit-in once the muscles would have started getting stiff.
Police managed to make a detailed description of the woman with the help of the clues found there and the work of Webster. But it resulted in nothing. Nobody came forward and no result came out from a search of 3000 missing person cases around the country.
The woman had dental work done on her teeth, and that too within a year of her death. Police did a nationwide search of similar dental practices, but that too resulted in nothing, they found no clue of her being present for any such surgery. All these left the case with many unanswered questions and created a lot of mysteries around it.
What followed later?
All the coverage, all attention around the case started fading out as no one could come to a conclusion. The area was in the mid of WW2 for years, it suffered several years of bombing, many lives lost and many lived threatened, many preferred to give the case a conclusion by claiming it to the war.
Christmas was near and all started forgetting about the strange case. Until the graffiti started that gave the case whole new turn. The very first graffiti that was seen said: “Who put Luebella down the wych-elm?”. Very soon another graffiti spotted that had it more specific, it said: “Who put Bella in the Wych Elm?”. It became a rage and the graffiti started appearing on walls throughout the West Midlands, seemed to be done by the same hands. Someone, who knew more about her than anyone else.
From that point, the woman found got named as Bella, even police preferred the same. But no one ever found out who was behind the graffiti, or what they knew about Bella. It raised more questions than the answers. Was the man behind graffiti trying to taunt police, or was it some kind of massage?
There war possible theories that suggested that there might be some role of black magic in the case. Margaret Murray, a Folklorist, suggested that the killing of Bella might have been killed as a part of an occult ceremony. The one hand removed of the skeleton points towards the typical black magic execution that follows the same way.
What did people think of the case? The few of the many theories behind it:
The theory related to black magic, that the Bella might have fallen in the hands of witches, made rounds for a while. But soon due to no leads and being more on a guessing side went cold.
Soon a letter signed only Anna ignited a new theory. The letter suggested that Bella was murdered due to her being involved in Nazi Spy ring that used to operate in the Midlands in the early 1940s.
The theory suggesting Bella being killed due to being involved in the Spy ring seemed more believable and backed by evidence that one of the witches. There were German spies in a number of hundreds that got caught in Britain during the war, and Bella could have been one of them.
There came many theories that just kept adding layers and layers to the mystery, no one knows who put Bella in the Wych Elm or who killed her.
After almost 75 years, how much we know about Bella?
After 75 years of the fascinating murder mystery that got the attention of whole Britain, we finally know how Bella might have been looked like. Professor Caroline Wilkinson, a specialist in the Craniofacial depiction of the people gone with the past, managed to put together an illustration of Bella’s face. It was a digital illustration revealed in a book, published by Stourbridge based publisher Andrew Sparke.
The facial reconstruction was the only lead that we got till now. Britain’s biggest murder mystery has remained a mystery all these years. No one knows who was Bella? Who killed her? Who was behind the Graffiti “Who put Bella in the Wych Elm”? So many questions that still rounds around the mysterious death of Bella and the place she was found in. What do you think might had happened? According to you who put Bella in the Wych Elm? Share your thoughts or possible theories in the comment box below.