Axe Murder at The Bow Palace Cinema | True Crime Shorts

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Axe murder at the Bow Palace Cinema in London, 1934. A True Crime Short for when you only have a minute spare.

In 1934, 19-year-old cinema attendant John Frederick Stockwell decided to rob his place of work at the Bow Palace Cinema in Tower Hamlets, London. He was tempted into the robbery after witnessing the hundreds of pounds of takings the theatre was bringing in over a weekend.

On Tuesday 7th August 1934, when the weekend’s takings were due to be taken to the bank, John put his plan into action. Except, he had murder on his mind. Cinema owner Dudley Henry Hoard had already packed the suitcase full of money when John knocked at the door.

The moment John stepped inside, he retrieved a large axe from inside of his jacket and hit Dudley over the head with the blade end. Dudley’s wife, Maisie, ran out to stop John but was knocked unconscious with a heavy blow to the side of the head.

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John then hit Dudley in the head with the axe another 13 times, killing him instantly. He hit Maisie two more times then escaped with the suitcase full of cash. The cleaner found the couple in a pool of blood the next day, but Maisie was still alive.

John faked his death to put police off the scent, by placing his clothes along with a suicide letter on the shoreline of Lowestoft. Eagle-eyed holidaymakers who were aware of the axe murder saw him fold the clothes and walk off and informed the police of what they had seen.

Police tracked John north to Great Yarmouth, where he was hiding out in a hotel. They put him under surveillance for half a day to be sure he was the killer. When they saw him buying luxury goods with wads of cash, they knew they had their man and arrested him.

A few months later, John was found guilty of murder and sentenced to death. He was executed by hanging at Pentonville Prison. Maisie was disfigured by her injuries but lived out the rest of her life. The cinema was rebuilt as an Art Deco building which was later destroyed by German bombing during the Second World War.

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