The body of a woman was found in a pillbox in the Wirral in 1955. The perpetrator was never caught. Late on Saturday morning on the 24th September 1955, Peter Williams aged 11, went out to pick blackberries with his friends and left his parents home at Walby Close on the Woodchurch Estate, Birkenhead. Brian Lennon, aged 11, a 12 year old boy named John Williams and Peter's 4 year old brother. They all lived nearby to Peter on the Woodchurch Estate, Birkenhead. They went to a nearby railway embankment where stood nearby an old WW2 pillbox. Apparently this had been used by the local Home Guard. Peter decided to take a peek inside and saw what he thought was a dummy. But when he took a closer look, he was shocked to find that it was the body of a woman with clothes over her face.
Peter shouted his friends and then raced home to tell his mother of the find, and here began the baffling case of the Pillbox Murder. Police were very quickly on the scene, headed by the Deputy Chief Constable, Superintendent Tankard. A number of uniformed policemen then arrived at the railway embankment and formed a cordon around the pillbox to keep back the crowds of sightseers.
The then unidentified woman, who looked between 50 and 60 years of age, had been strangled, mutilated, and an obscene three-word sentence had been scrawled on the body in lipstick. Police immediately launched a murder investigation and even brought in a top Scotland Yard detective to co-ordinate the enquiry. In the beginning of the investigation the Police were hopeful of a breakthrough.
A woodsman from Birkenhead Corporation, working at nearby Arrowe Park, named Leslie Poole, told police that on the morning of the day after the murder, at 8.10am, he had found a trail of footprints in the still wet dew drenched grass, leading out of the wood near to the pillbox. A William Shaw, another member of the Arrowe Park ground-staff, said that at 6pm, two days before the discovery of the body, he had seen a couple sitting in a shelter by the local bowling greens, and heard the woman say, 'I am much older than you are'.
Still, as the days wore on, the identity of the murder victim remained a mystery, until the police controversially decided to put the face of the dead woman in the Liverpool Echo - and then came news. Several readers of the Liverpool Echo recognised the dead woman as Alice Barton, an impoverished-looking woman who had been seen in the Kirkdale area. A copy of the Liverpool Echo found its way to John Barton, the 56-year-old husband of the murdered woman, and shocked him, for he had not seen his wife since she walked out on him at Christmas 1943. Police took Mr Barton from his home to Price Street Mortuary in Birkenhead, where he identified of his wife's body. Scotland Yard and Birkenhead CID learnt that Alice Barton had been staying at St Winifred's Hotel - which was situated on the junction of Knowsley Road and Rimrose Road in Bootle - days before her murder, but were puzzled as to why and how she could afford to stay at the hotel, despite having no employment or obvious means of support, is, like the Pillbox Murder, an enduring mystery.