AS part of our weekly Crime Files series, we are taking a look back at the archives to bring you stories from Herefordshire's history.

The following story dates from 1894.

A MURDER mystery gripped a village in Herefordshire in 1894 after a man was found dead in a shed.

The body, identified as Joseph Mitchell, a 65-year-old woolsorter from Halifax, was found an outbuilding at Dairy House Farm in Sarnesfield, near Weobley, Herefordshire, in November that year.

He was thought to have been dead for some six or seven weeks when he was found, and a post-mortem revealed he had two serious wounds that had caused his death, at least one caused by a blunt weapon and one penetrating an internal organ.

Mitchell's corpse was found still clutching a handful of hair that it was believed he had torn from the head of his unknown assailant in a struggle.

A parish coffin was taken to the farm and the corpse removed "with considerable difficulty" due to the length of time he had lain undiscovered the next day to be interred at Weobley church.

It was reported that Mitchell was a married father but had been away from home for some time and was thought to have been in the habit of sleeping in outhouses.

He had been working in Leominster, but had been out of employment at the time of his death, and had been warned by police against begging.


Locals described seeing a man wearing the clothes later found on the body in the area in weeks gone by, saying he had "wild eyes" and had asked for food.

One woman who had spoken to him and given him food said he had told her he was from Halifax and was making his way back there.

An inquest into his death was held at Weobley Workhouse in December, with the jury returning a verdict of wilful murder against a person or persons unknown after hearing that there were no leads as to the perpetrator of the crime.