It’s the murder mystery that has stumped a small village for more than 70 years. Doug MacGowan lives on the San Francisco peninsula with his wife, a dog, and far too many cats. Wych Elms, and other elm trees, have long been associated with death and dissolution. appeared on numerous surfaces across the west midlands area, most commonly on the Hagley Obelisk, which was near the original crime scene. In December 1943, mysterious graffiti began to appear throughout the West Midlands, written on walls and eventually upon the stone obelisk at Hagley Hall. Nationwide News Pty Limited Copyright © 2020. They dug around the base of the tree and later discovered the missing hand. Still the police seemed no closer to answering that question and, over the next decades, the graffiti artist continued to taunt them. This graffiti kept appearing, 'Who put Bella in the Wych Elm?' Other authorities believed the much more plausible explanation that wild animals had moved the hand away from its original location with the body. To this day her identity is still unknown. All rights reserved. More than 70 years later it’s back. The graffiti rang with the implication that somebody knew the answer to the question. Image: Flickr/mjeshenton via CC by 2.0. Brian Haughton.com. A more sinister theory surfaced. Things like, “Who put Luebella down the wych–elm?”, “Hagley Wood Bella”, “Who put Bella down the Wych Elm – Hagley Wood”. Very soon another graffiti spotted that had it more specific, it said: “Who put Bella in the Wych Elm?”. In the hollow center of the tree, the boy saw what he thought to be an animal skull. They dug further into the tree and came away with a full skeleton, minus one hand. "Who put Bella in the Wych Elm? On the other hand, she may have been someone passing through on the way to a different place. If you can believe it, the story takes one last peculiar turn. Despite extensive detective work, and a public appeal, the police could not identify the body, nor zero in on the exact cause of death. The missing right hand, the evil-looking wych-elm, and the mysterious messages led to locals spinning the murder into legend. I believe the granddaughter of Joseph Jacobs (incidently, the last man to be executed in the Tower of London) was writing a book about her grandfather, and his … Luebbella would have been an unusual name. So the question still remains – who put Bella in the Wych Elm? Other messages in the same hand appeared too. He has published five books on the topic of historic true crime. Similar messages kept popping up around town, seemingly written in the same hand, asking variants on the same question: “Who put Bella in the wych-elm?”. "After a woman's skeleton is found in a tree in Hagley woods, mysterious graffiti begins to appear. He sighed, carding a hand through his thick dark curls. He quickly dropped his dark discovery back into the tree’s hollow. Searches throughout the local area turned up no missing person report of someone with that name. A ritualistic killing? The very first graffiti that was seen said: “Who put Luebella down the wych-elm?”. Sometimes it just said HAGLEY WOOD BELLA. Oddly, “wych” became “witch” in many cases, but eventually, the graffiti just stopped. The graffiti simply read — “ Who put Bella down the Wych Elm — Hagley Wood.” No evidence of any ritualistic murder was found, however, leaving … Historic Mysteries provides captivating articles on archaeology, history, and unexplained mysteries. Hagley Wood is located within Worchestershire, a county in the West Midlands in England. In 1944 however, mysterious graffiti began to adorn the walls of the Midlands: Who Put Bella In The Wych Elm. One of the boys begun climbing the tree to look for birds eggs and upon reaching the topmost branches, looked down to find the tree was curiously hollow. Teacher loses job in COVID, becomes Instagram model, makes $... COVID-19 UK strain enters Australia through returned travell... Coronavirus NSW: 15 new COVID cases, outbreak spreads to CBD... How to turn Woolworths mud cake into cute fishing cake with ... Find out more about our policy and your choices, including how to opt-out. She said that Mossop told her that he had become involved in a spy ring along with a “Dutchman called Van Ralt.”. After a … Usually, the occultists would take the hand of an executed criminal and then dry it to use for occult purposes. Someone, it seemed, knew more than they were letting on. And although reports of the murder referred to the body as being found in ‘a tree’ the graffiti specifically mentions a wych-elm. The first message, which appeared in Upper Dean Street, Birmingham, stated “Who put Bella in the wych elm – Hagley Wood”, but other messages have appeared throughout the area, with perhaps the most famous one on the Wychbury obelisk, still visible today (in 2014) on a hill about half a mile away from where the body was discovered. A NOTE ABOUT RELEVANT ADVERTISING: We collect information about the content (including ads) you use across this site and use it to make both advertising and content more relevant to you on our network and other sites. Being wartime, one possibility they discussed was that the woman was involved in some kind of covert operation for the Germans. Who put Bella in the Wych Elm. The pair were reportedly drinking with an extremely drunk woman at a nearby pub and, after she passed out on the way home, put her in the trunk in the hopes she would see this as a wake-up call. Nobody knew why. The messages were written in chalk in three-inch-tall capital letters, probably by the same hand. As it was copycat graffiti they eventually thought it was a hoax. The article was called "Who Put Bella in the Wych Elm?". Perhaps a spurned husband or lover put Bella in the wych elm. The graffiti that appears (and it’s been seen in other places locally) always refers to the murdered woman as ‘Bella’ or occasionally ‘Luebella’. Because one of the woman’s hands were in a different location from the rest of the body, some people theorized that the woman had died in some sort of human sacrifice. This version of a fairly famous saying in those parts of England, is only the most recent of a line of graffiti that dates all the way back to 1944. Initially, near the site of the body, someone had written, “Who put Luebbella down the wych-elm?” The police investigated the presence of a possible name for the skeleton. Later graffiti found on a stone monument near the site asked, “Who Put Bella In The Wych Elm?” This would be replicated in other areas, however, no one knew the identity of the person creating the graffiti. If he had told his cousin this story, why did she wait 10 years to report it? It seemed like a dead end. Who Put Bella In The Wych Elm? In April of 1943, four young boys were searching for bird nests in a place called Hagley Woods near Stourbridge. In 1944, a graffiti messages related to the mystery began to appear. Oddly, “wych” became “witch” in many cases, but eventually, the graffiti just stopped. In his free time he enjoys reading. The graffiti appeared on walls throughout the West Midlands, seemingly by the same hand. In 1943 a group of boys wondering the woodland of Hagley Hall discovered the remains of an unknown woman stuffed inside a hollowed-out Wych Elm tree. This led investigators down several new leads tracing who Bella could have been. It was also private property, belonging to one Lord Cobham, and a great place for illegal poaching. In April of 1943, a group of young boys discovered the skull of a woman lodged inside a Wych Elm in Hagley Woods, West Midlands. "Who put Bella in the Wych Elm" is a piece of graffito painted onto the side of the Wychbury Obelisk on Wychbury Hill, Hagley, Worcestershire, England. news.com.au — Australia’s leading news site. The skull the boys found in the woods.Source:Supplied. Eventually, they came across a large Wych elm. The first read, in white chalk, “Who put Luebbella down the wych-elm?” Historic Mysteries is an Amazon Associate and earns from qualifying purchases. on Pinterest. The famous Who Put Bella in the Witch Elm graffiti, which has been on the Wychbury Hill obelisk for decades, now reads Hers Put Bella in the Witch Elm. This was a town in the area of the West Midlands. With Barry Anscomb-Moon, Matias Barnes, Peter Grail, Jim Heal. Legally, they were not supposed to be there, but they snuck into the area and went exploring. Another popped up in Birmingham: “Hagley Wood Bella.” At the base of the crumbling obelisk atop Wychbury Hill, the ultimate version appeared: “Who put Bella in the wych elm?” Unfortunately, this led nowhere. Well, it was only graffiti, but he had a good feeling about this. Understandably freaked out, the boys put the skull back, and made a pact to keep their discovery to themselves, as they were trespassing on private land when they made the grizzly find. Over time, the legend of Bella and the Wych elm became local lore. That Christmas mysterious graffiti began appearing around town asking the ominous question: “Who put Luebella down the wych elm?”, or the variation, “Who put Bella in the Wych Elm?”. The decades rolled by, and the mystery deepened. Variations on the theme soon appeared in and around the Midlands, usually including the name Luebella or Bella and the words Hagley Wood. Graffiti on the Wychbury Obelisk, Hagley In 1944 a graffiti message, related to the mystery, appeared on a wall in Upper Dean Street, Birmingham, reading Who put Bella down the Wych Elm - Hagley Wood. Theories It was for this reason that the four boys who discovered the body were hesitant to report their findings, and why Bob Farmer first climbed the elm tree, assuming there would be bird’s nests to raid. From then on, the woman found in the old elm at … At that moment he found a skull nestled in the tree. She was estimated to be around 35 years old, and was wearing a gold ring, a shoe, and remnants of clothing. Similar graffiti would turn up on walls and monuments for quite some time. This dubious tale was further discredited by the fact Jack Mossop was confined to a mental hospital some years earlier, dying there before the body was even found. One of the boys decided to climb the tree and see if it contained any nests. Other discoveries included a wedding ring, one shoe, and remnants of cloth in the skull’s mouth. NOTE: this is a bonus episode we did for donors around Halloween. When someone wrote “Who put Bella in the Wych Elm?” around the area, the graffiti gave birth to crime mystery that has endured nearly 80 years. There is something about those words. Did someone in the locale know the identity of the dead woman? “Who put Luebella down the wych elm?” read the hastily painted message on a wall in nearby Old Hill around Christmastime that year. This was clearly a murder case, although police couldn’t identify the victim, and had no suspects. Who was leaving the graffiti around the town, and what did they know? One of the first pieces of graffiti appeared in 1943.Source:Supplied. Who Put Bella In The Wych Elm? Click Here for more information. We'll assume you're ok with this, but you can opt-out if you wish. Shortly after, Van Ralt strangled the woman, allegedly because of her spy associations. He reached down to pick it up and discovered to his horror that the object was actually a human skull. The youngsters talked among themselves and decided that, since they were on the property illegally, they would keep the grisly find a secret. Boys stumbled upon “Bella” in a wych elm, such as this one during WWII. However, one of the boys apparently couldn’t keep the secret. Georgia Guidestones: Who Paid for It and Why. That message is still being scrawled seven decades later. The killer and the graffiti artists were both at large fifty years … Therefore, someone had most likely put her into the elm while she was still alive or soon after her death. Thus, his parents learned all about the skull, and they quickly contacted the local authorities. The number of missing women of that era was enormous. | Privacy Policy | Contact Us | DMCA Notice, This website uses cookies to improve your experience. See more ideas about elm, bella, unsolved mysteries. It became a rage and the graffiti started appearing on walls throughout the West Midlands, seemed to be done by the same hands. Figure 1 Graffiti found in late 1943 Not long after a skeleton was found in a wych elm tree, this graffiti started turning up. Forensics estimated the body had been in the trunk for 18 months. The name “Bella” or “Luebella” suggested the artist was aware of the identity of the victim, and led to reports of a Birmingham-based prostitute named Bella, who went missing in 1941. Starting in December, graffiti was painted (or put there by chalk) throughout the area. At the base of the crumbling obelisk atop Wychbury Hill, the ultimate version appeared: "Who put Bella in the wych elm?" In 1999, “Who put Bella in the Witch Elm?” [sic] was again written in white paint on the side of the nearby Wychbury Obelisk, renewing interest in the mystery. But that isn't the end. They pulled it out with a stick, soon realising the horrible truth of what they’d found. The boys only found the human skull, with tufts of hair and missing teeth, however police quickly recovered an entire female body from within the tree. She became known as "Bella" and after the discovery, graffiti asking "Who Put Bella in the Wych Elm?" Additionally, the body would not have fit into the hollow of the tree once rigor mortis had set in. Find out more about our policy and your choices, including how to opt-out. He estimated that she had been dead for approximately 18 months. It was complete with teeth and patches of hair. © 2009-2020 Historic Mysteries. The graffiti continued all the way up to 1999. About six months after Jane Doe’s bones were found, someone started painting the message, “Who put Bella down the Wych Elm?” around Birmingham and Hagley. The graffiti was last sprayed onto the side of a 200-year-old obelisk on 18 August 1999. The skull of "Wych Elm Bella," as retrieved 18 April 1943. This June, a cardboard sign again asking the question was attached to a fence near the woods, once more bumping this mystery into the news-cycle. Had someone killed her for some reason because she was a spy? Infamous Bella in the Wych Elm murder may be made into a film That crucial piece of evidence has been lost by police, Birmingham councillor Peter Douglas Osborn, an expert on the Bella … Talk:Who put Bella in the Wych Elm? Was she someone named “Bella”? began to appear throughout the town. ’, first in Birmingham and then at other points in the West Midlands. Then, the graffiti appeared. A jilted love story? Oct 9, 2016 - Explore Elizabeth Ann Molloy's board "Who Put Bella in the Wych Elm?" The probing slogan spread throughout England and Europe – … Madame LaLaurie: Sadistic Slave Owner of the French... Olmec Civilization: Their Rise, Culture and Decline. And every few years a new message appears.Source:Supplied. Sources: Image. It was titled simply, ‘Who put Bella in the wych elm?’ Followed with a picture of the graffiti over a local obelisk that was put there to mark where they used to burn witches during 1558 – 1736. By this time over fifty pieces of graffiti had been left with the words “Who put Bella in the Wych Elm”, all by the same author and without a single person having ever seen the artist at work. War-time espionage? Then the mysterious graffiti began appearing around town, asking the ominous question: “Who put Bella in the wych-elm?” And every few years it comes back. Interesting history topics are just a click away. Despite a public plea for whoever wrote this to come forward, they remained silent. The secret weighed on the youngest boy, Tommy Wittells, who told his parents, and a full investigation began. This June, a cardboard sign again asking the question was attached to a fence near the woods, … This is not THE elm tree, but it’s easy to imagine how creepy it must have been.Source:istock, Then that Christmas a disturbing piece of graffiti written in chalk appeared on a wall in a nearby neighbourhood, asking “Who put Luebella down the wych-elm?”, This was the first time a name had been attached to the victim, and police were obviously interested. In December 1943, mysterious graffiti began to appear throughout the West Midlands, written on walls and eventually upon the stone obelisk at Hagley Hall. Around hristmas 1943, graffiti began to appear on the walls across the West Midlands “Who put Luebella down the wych–elm” which then became "Who put Bella down the wych–elm" but the police could not find out who wrote it. Then the graffiti started appearing, ‘ Who Put Bella Down the Wych Elm? Perhaps a spurned husband or lover put Bella in the wych elm. Soon it settled on “Who put Bella in the wych–elm?”. A forensic examination by a local professor revealed the fact that the skeleton was that of a female of about 35 years old. At the base of the crumbling obelisk atop Wychbury Hill, the ultimate version appeared: “Who put Bella in the wych elm?” Numerous attempts to locate the author behind the graffiti were unsuccessful. These led investigators down several new leads tracing who Bella could have been. Today, children still hear this story which ensures that the mystery of the unfortunate woman in the Wych elm will endure for many years to come. The presence of the cloth (later determined to be a kind of taffeta) in the skull’s mouth indicated the strong possibility that the unknown woman had died from asphyxiation. The only other presented explanation didn’t come until 1953, a full decade after the body was found. Police went to investigate and pulled the skull from its hiding place. Due to audio problems, we don't have an episode this week so we are releasing it for you now. READ: London's Ancient Outcast Graveyard Numerous attempts to locate the author behind the graffiti were unsuccessful. In 1943, four young boys, out poaching in Hagley Wood came across a large Wych Elm, a broad, spiderlike tree. Police wondered about the name. However, the authorities did their best to find a name to go with the skeleton and to develop theories of how she got there in the first place. A year later, graffiti asking the question “Who put Bella in the wych elm?” began to appear on local buildings. One evening, Van Ralt— accompanied by a woman Mossop believed to be “Bella”—had picked up Mossop in his car. Due to the war and a flurry of movement within England, the chances of identifying the skeleton were slim. At first, the boys only found the skull, initially believing it to be the remains of an animal. If you can believe it, the story takes one last peculiar turn. There is a folk belief that a “Hand of Glory” can give magical powers. Directed by Thomas Lee Rutter. The mystery is now 73-years-old, so it is unlikely the 2016 sign is anything more than copycat graffiti. “WHO put Bella in the wych elm?” The graffiti started appearing after teens found a body in the woods. This seemed an unlikely scenario, but it was a possible explanation. Nobody knew why. The puzzle continued for several months and then got more mysterious. There was a fragment of taffeta in her mouth, which suggested the victim had died of suffocation, and — most chillingly — it was determined the body must have been placed within the hollow trunk while still warm, as once rigor mortis had set in, it would have been impossible to fit within the tight confines. Stranger Dimensions The timeline fit, although there were no dental records or relatives to help further match the victim. The identity of Bella was never discovered, and no suspects have ever been charged. Or had she been a loyal Brit who had stumbled upon spy activity at the wrong place and time? It is, however, possible that somebody with a heavy heart is still out there, posing the same question, hoping the secret will be solved before those who know the answer take it to their grave. A Net Inceptions project. Sinister Symbolism. Since then it has not been spotted. All times AEDT (GMT +11). Over time, the legend of Bella and the Wych elm became local lore. In 1999, “Who put Bella in the Witch Elm?” [sic] was again written in white paint on the side of the nearby Wychbury Obelisk, renewing interest in the mystery. In April, 1943, four teenage boys discovered a skeleton in the hollowed-out body of a wych elm tree. She could have been someone from the local area. Similar graffiti would turn up on walls and monuments for quite some time. Una Mossop claimed her cousin Jack had confessed to putting the body in the tree, with the help of a Dutchman named van Ralt. This article is within the scope of WikiProject Graffiti, an ongoing effort to improve the quality of, expand upon and create new articles relating to graffiti art, graffiti artists and all aspects of graffiti culture. The wood from the elm tree is the wood traditionally used to make coffins. No one knows if the graffiti was the work of an anonymous tipster who knew the unidentified woman’s name or a prankster who wanted to create controversy. She was — however — missing a right hand, bones from which were later found scattered nearby. Accept Read More, Rodney Alcala: The Dating Game Killer 1968-1979, The Mystery of California’s Keddie Cabin Murders. Missing hand 9, 2016 - Explore Elizabeth Ann Molloy 's board `` Who put Bella in woods.Source... Rang with the implication that somebody knew the answer to the question still remains – Who Bella! Pulled the skull ’ s hollow a different place Hagley Obelisk, which was near the crime. 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