Home   News   Article

Appeal issued on the tragic curious case of Grantown's Mrs X

By Gavin Musgrove

Register for free to read more of the latest local news. It's easy and will only take a moment.

Click here to sign up to our free newsletters!

A writer is appealing for help to shed light on the intriguing but tragic half-century old mystery of a woman found dead more than 500 miles from her home in a derelict hen coop in a Grantown woods.

The body of 33-year-old housewife Dawn Jones, from Wimbledon in South London, was discovered in June 1969 in Anagach Wood.

She had no identification on her, the clothes she was wearing were brand new but the labels had been cut off, and she had been dead for about a month.

It was gradually pieced together that she had stayed four nights in Grantown's Seafield Lodge under a false name – Mrs H Fill – and even had her long hair cut short in a hairdressers' in the town by 18-year old trainee Helen McGlashan

Mrs Jones had vanished from her home completely without trace the previous month.

Her distraught husband of four years Frederick – 17 years her senior ­– had come home from work to find the front door open, the cooker on, and the shopping still in bags on the kitchen floor, and raised the alarm.

Her death made national headlines with reporters descending on the Strathspey capital and the case described as 'the riddle of Mrs X'.

It was eventually ruled that she had committed suicide with an overdose of tablets.

But to this day how she came to be in the hen coop, and why, remains a mystery.

Mrs Jones had never even been to Scotland before, and knew no-one in the local area.

Writer Simon Farquhar has become fascinated with the death of Mrs X near Grantown and is looking at producing a book or radio script on the case.
Writer Simon Farquhar has become fascinated with the death of Mrs X near Grantown and is looking at producing a book or radio script on the case.

Historian and author Simon Farquhar stumbled onto the Jones case whilst writing a book on the murder of Muriel McKay at the end of 1969 after she was mistaken by kidnappers for Rupert Murdoch's then wife, Anna.

He said: "It was a terrible and very famous case; the first ever kidnap and ransom in Britain. Muriel McKay lived in Wimbledon which is where Dawn Jones lived and this occurred around six months later.

"When Muriel McKay disappeared it was initially thought it could be connected because both women had vanished inexplicably leaving a rather theatrical scene.

"It turned out there was no connection but when I looked into the case I found it more and more intriguing because of the circumstances surrounding it.

"On the day she disappeared, Dawn had been to the butcher's and bought three lamb chops for the family dinner and a bottle of shampoo as well.

"When her husband came home, the radio and cooker were both on and shopping bags still on the kitchen floor in her council flat...

"Nothing else was known at the time until this body was found in Grantown.

Dawn Jones and the disused hen coop in which she was found.
Dawn Jones and the disused hen coop in which she was found.

Her husband was convinced it could not be her at first because the circumstances were so strange – the description did not it her; clothes did not match those she owned and she wore rings on her fingers which Mrs Jones did not do."

Her body had been found by railway worker John McDonald, who lived at the now derelict Heather Bells cottage on the Dava, whilst walking his dog in Anagach Wood.

She had next to her a sleeping bag and a ground sheet which had been bought in Grantown but there was nothing else to identify her.

But after a police search of missing persons, the body was confirmed in person by Mr Jones as his missing wife.

Mr Farquhar said one of the mysteries was how and why Mrs Jones had ended up in Grantown especially given that the rail station had been axed a year earlier.

He continued: "Jack Wood, the then owner of Seafield Lodge, said she was quite reclusive and that she did not go to thee bar at all and had meals in her room but that she did not seem at all to be disturbed by anything.

"Each day that she went out she took a packed lunch with her. On the last day she paid her bill and went off but the incredible thing is that she got her hair done just before she disappeared.

"The woman in the hairdresser's said she had her long blonde hair cut short and that she was chain-smoking whilst waiting but otherwise seemed fine."

How the then newly merged Strathy reported the case at the time.
How the then newly merged Strathy reported the case at the time.

Mr Farquhar continued: "The Coroner decided that there was no foul play, finding that it was suicide and closed the case but it is just the most extraordinary case.

"All the time she was in Grantown she must have been aware that her family would be going crazy.

"Sometimes when you come across these things they just get inside your head, and that's the case here."

Mr Farquhar said that the responses and amount of information he can find out would determine his next step.

He has interviewed some of the investigating police officers at the time but said: "I would love to be able to talk to the hairdresser if she is still around.

The writer thinks that Mrs Jones went to such great lengths to hide her identity as far as possible rather than being 'the woman who got dressed up to die' as the tabloids speculated at the time.

Mr Farquhar has his own theory: "I think that she was running away from something or someone and driven to act in this way; maybe even an act of revenge in that those close to her would never know if she was going to walk back in through the door...

"Maybe she though no-one would be likely to look inside a disused hut rather than on a hill side where she might be spotted."

The writer has also been trying to trace Mrs Jones' stepson, Adrian, a transport manager of a firm based in Richmond who was aged 20 at the time of her death.

He refused to accept it was suicide in the aftermath pointing out that his stepmother was a fully trained nurse, although she no longer worked and very level-headed.

A radio documentary is another possibility for any script produced off the back of Mr Farquhar's research.

"I'd really love to be able to piece together more details of Mrs Jones' four days in the Grantown area," he said.

Anyone with more information on the case of Mrs X can contact Mr Farquhar at simonafarquhar@yahoo.co.uk .

Do you want to respond to this article? If so, click here to submit your thoughts and they may be published in print.

This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies - Learn More