Wrong Body – Right Name | John F. Wake

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The Mystery of Plantagenet Street

It is the early part of the 20th century. The police were called to a house in Plantagenet Street where they were shown the body of a man, dead in bed. On the bedside table in the tiny back room was a glass containing strychnine. The landlady told the police he was Charlie Lewis and he was a commercial traveller from Bristol. Police made the usual enquiries to present the evidence to the Coroner at the earliest opportunity. This they did.

The police surgeon, after the postmortem, stated that the reason of death was strychnine poisoning, and it was in all probability he committed suicide. The Cardiff police traced his mother, a Mrs Aldeen, and she gave evidence of identification stating it was her son, Eddie Charles Lewis, a commercial traveller from Bristol. Her sister and another lady gave evidence proving identification also. Open and shut case.

‘Suicide whilst temporarily insane’ was the verdict of the jury at the Coroner’s court. The body was released and buried at the Cardiff (Cathays) cemetery. The picture above is not the exact grave.

One month later a telegram was received at Cardiff police station in St Mary Street from Mrs Aldeen. She wrote, ‘My son, Eddie Charles Lewis, is alive.He returned home yesterday’. It must have been a shock for her, let alone the police officers and Coroner in Cardiff. Who was in the grave then? The enquiry had gone well for the police, straight forward. Consternation to the say the least in both the Cardiff and Bristol police.

They published in the media some notes etc., from a diary that had been found on the dead man. It produced something spectacular. A Bristol man, totally separate from the first family mentioned, recognised the diary and said it was his son, Charles Lewis. More enquiries were made, and it was ascertained that the deceased Charles Lewis, and the Mrs Aldeen’s son, Eddie Charles Lewis, were almost identical in looks. Therefore, the Cardiff police had buried the wrong man but in the right name, Charles Lewis!

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Wrong Body – Right Name | John F. Wake

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