Tuesday, 6 March 2018

Hugged, Kissed and Shot: The Murder of Hilda Jones.

Hugged, Kissed and Shot: The Murder of Hilda Jones.

“Even as he kissed her ruby lips his teetering brain gave finally away,
And, a wreck at random driven, without one glimpse of reason or of heaven 
He raised his deadly rifle, raised it so that none should have her,
She never spoke, poor child.

 The smile faded from her eyes with the crumbling of her skull, 
shattered by that awful bullet, as she fell a maimed and bleeding thing upon the floor,
while he, ghastly, staring, stood over the body, 
waving intruders aside, until at last, the policeman came, and he swooned off in their arms.”
 - Truth (QLD newspaper) 15 June 1924.

On the 17th of March 1924, Hilda Jones went to work at her job at the offices of Mr W.A.A. West, Estate Agent and Horse Racing enthusiast, where she worked as a typist. The office was situated on Currie Street in Adelaide.

That same morning, Bert Neal arrived at his job at Bickford and Sons, Limited Wholesale Chemists on Currie Street. He arrived at 8am, and it was noticed straight away by his work mates, that he had with him a Lee Enfield Rifle.

Neal was known for his negative attitude, often coming across morose or depressed, and this day his co-workers noted his disposition as “unusually quiet”.
During a break, Neal made his way to Bank Street, where he stopped into a gun dealers shop and purchased 30 cartridges for his rifle.

 Lunch on Currie Street occurred for Ms Jones at 1:15pm, and on this fateful day, she found her boyfriend, someone who visited her home frequently, and who loved her very much, in the Currie street offices where she worked.
 The two were seen together talking at 1:20pm, but for the next half hour, only Hilda and Bert know what happened.

At 2pm, Mr West accountant, Mr Young, who was in his office, heard a loud crack as if from a rifle. He ran into the hallway and saw Neal, standing at the door of the office, with a rifle in his hands.
 Young asked Neal what was going on. Neal did not respond, instead, he waved frantically not to come near him, so Mr Young, ran out of the building to find a police officer to help.

 Only minutes later, Constables Easton and Stewart arrived on the scene. They headed towards Mr West’s office, and saw Neal standing in the doorway, rifle in hand. Neal dropped the rifle, and collapsed. He was taken to the Adelaide Hospital by the Constables for examination, with his only comment being “I am tired”.

Continued next week.

Researched and written by Allen Tiller.

© 2018 Allen Tiller

Bibliography on last post in series.