England · unsolved

Unsolved: Woman is burned alive

January 6, 1931
Otterburn, Northumbria, England
Evelyn Foster is found after being burned alive in her car

Foster was a 28-year-old taxi driver, and was found barely alive near her scorched taxi. She drifted in and out of consciousness at the hospital but was able to tell investigators some of the details of her attack and attacker. Foster stated she picked up a fare on January 5, a clean-shaven man of around 25-26 years of age, standing at approximately 5’6” (170 cm), and speaking in a Tyneside accent. Evelyn told police the man struck her which knocked her out, though she regained consciousness to find herself in the back of her car, covered in a rug. The man then doused Evelyn, the rug, and the car with petrol, set them on fire, and pushed the car down a bank.

Foster was able to crawl from the car and extinguish herself, though her burns were too severe to recover. Foster’s mother testified to the description she gave of the man who attacked her, and quoted her as saying “Mother, I couldn’t help it. I fought for my life.” Foster died of her injuries while in the hospital. Her last words were: “I have been murdered.”

Despite Foster’s ability to give a description of her murderer, police were unable to find the killer. One theory suggested she was killed by Ernest Brown who was hanged in 1933. Brown was executed for killing his employer (and lover’s husband) by setting him on fire in his car. He met the physical description of the man and possessed a Tyneside accent. Additionally, Brown’s last words uttered shortly before his death sounded similar to “Otterburn” (where Foster was found), though some have speculated he said “outta burn” referring either to Hell or his employer’s death. (Read more about Brown’s story here.)

Officially, Foster’s murder remains unsolved, though Tony Stevens, an investigation team supervisor, told BBC that his team revisits unsolved cases periodically with hopes advancement in technology can resolve the cases. While it is too late to bring Foster’s killer to justice, her story — should her case be solved — may yet have an ending.


Sources:
“Evelyn Foster: The unsolved murder of a Northumberland taxi driver.” BBC. January 5, 2019. Accessed: January 6, 2020. https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-tyne-46764740
Robson, Ian. “Who killed Evelyn Foster? Author claims she may have solved 1931 murder.” Chronicle Live. May 27, 2017. Accessed: January 6, 2020. https://www.chroniclelive.co.uk/news/north-east-news/who-killed-evelyn-foster-author-13098729
Doughty, Sophie. “Chronicle Crime Files: Northumberland Moors murder mystery of Evelyn Foster’s death.” Chronicle Live. January 28, 2015. Accessed: January 6, 2020. https://www.chroniclelive.co.uk/news/history/chronicle-crime-files-moors-murder-8535910
Storey, Neil R. The Little Book of Murder. The History Press, 2013
“Inquest Into Girl’s Death.” The Border Cities Star [Windsor, Ontario]. February 3, 1931
“English Girl Is Victim Of Torch Murder.” Cumberland Evening Times. January 7, 1931

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