Month: April 2016

Diligent Sleuthing

Each person I met whilst writing INJURED PARTIES knew a small part of the story and I was there to put clues together, a bit like doing a jigsaw. My partner invented a phrase for me: diligent sleuthing. It was a skill I never thought I had.

Armed only with a brief description of Dr Davidson’s murder in 1966 and newspaper clippings, I knew I needed to find characters from the 1960s before it was too late.

From the start, my loyal team of Amersham contacts bent over backwards to help find people from the 1960s; from suspects who’d been pulled in by the police for questioning and their family members who’ve waited 50 years to tell their story, to chance encounters with acquaintances of Dr Davidson, her patients and others closely involved in the investigation. It has been a seven year learning journey for me…a journey I would not have missed for the world.

 

How do you feel about public speaking? I joined Toastmasters International (TI) some years ago and still have a stack of the little feedback slips from fellow members about my presentations. Getting those slips was as good as being awarded a gold star at school for getting my spellings right. Wonderful for morale. Knowing that fellow members of the group were genuinely interested in what I had to say, even if it was a talk lasting two minutes, always gave me a good feeling. An excellent organisation in which I felt comfortable whilst learning how to stand up in front of an audience and not feel thoroughly sick and self-conscious.

Seeing this piece today about BBC’s Nick Robinson’s voice:

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3566632/BBC-man-Nick-Robinson-thanks-doctor-gave-voice-cancer-ordeal.html

reminds me of my personal struggle. Having developed bell’s palsy in 1995 I’d been left with speech problems. For years I couldn’t say my Bs, Ss, Ts and other letters, properly. One side of my mouth wouldn’t move. So for me, public speaking, as well as the nerves kicking in, was peppered with the struggle to speak coherently. At TI meetings I learned to speak slowly and if necessary cut back the length of the talk to the bare minimum. I mention my illness to audiences sometimes. It often results in someone coming up to me afterwards saying how clearly I talk. That makes me feel very happy. I know what it was like for a long time.

I’m putting together a talk about INJURED PARTIES. It’s taken months of preparation. From thinking : Where will I start? bit by bit it began to take shape, creating a back story to the main story. I hope I can carry the audience with me, and my passion for solving the murder of Dr Helen Davidson in 1966. Maybe some will leave the venue with a copy of my book in their hands. That’ll be good. Diligent sleuthing will have paid off. Maybe others will tell me quietly that they like the way I speak. That’ll be good too.

For details of my talk in Amersham, Bucks on 12 July please click on this link:

http://amershammuseum.org/event/talk-came-write-injured-parties-solving-murder-dr-helen-davidson/

Injured Parties flyer (324x500)

 

 

HELP!

Over the seven years of writing INJURED PARTIES, Solving the Murder of Dr Helen Davidson, people across the UK have helped me with research for my book, from Wimbledon, Sherborne, St John’s Wood, Oxford, Liverpool, from Cornwall to Amersham and its neighbouring villages, the list goes on and on…

Associations, museums, schools, technical journals, GPs, newspaper editors and researchers, a JP, a seamstress, a biomedical scientist and forensic scientists, a dairy farmer, libraries and record offices. a bird-watching society, online forums, press photographers, bus enthusiasts and forestry experts……….. another endless list of people, have all given their help.

 

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Yesterday I received an email from a lady which made everything I’ve gone through over the last seven years worthwhile.

She wrote:

Hi Monica

As publication date is getting very close, I just wanted to wish you all the best of luck for the launch and for the talks you will be giving about your research.

It is hard to believe that I have been following your research for seven years! It is probably a huge relief for you that it is finished but also very exciting that you are ready to share this with us all.

N

Her words say it all.

Thank you N.

 

Monica Weller

 

A COLD CASE

Injured Parties headlines

It’s not my intention here to give too much away about my new true crime book ‘INJURED PARTIES, Solving the Murder of Dr Helen Davidson’ that’s being published round about 6th May.  I’ll just hint here and there. But if you scroll down through my blog you’ll find the synopsis that appears on the back cover of the book.

Because the murder of Dr Helen Davidson in 1966 is part of a cold case review the police are not able to disclose information about the case. So, with no official documentation to work from, I had to start from scratch when I began my investigation into the case.

Cold Case: a crime that’s remained unsolved for a long period of time, has no new evidence, and has been deemed a low priority by its original investigating agency or department.

 

 

See below for details about my talk in Amersham on Tuesday 12 July 2016:

How I came to write INJURED PARTIES, Solving the Murder of Dr Helen Davidson: 

http://www.amershamsociety.org/index.php/events/icalrepeat.detail/2016/07/12/450/12%7C13%7C14%7C18%7C21/how-i-came-to-write-injured-parties-solving-the-murder-of-dr-helen-davidson-a-talk-by-monica-weller

DIGGING & SNAILS

24th April 2016

Digging around in my journals, in February 2009, I see now that it was colourful.

I fell over in the snow, broke my wrist and the roads were too snowy to get to the hospital. I began my research, typing one-fingered on one hand (not very clever) and in a lot of pain. When I eventually got to Accident and Emergency I was offered a rather lovely purple plaster cast.

Later in the month I found a message I’d expressed to myself in my journal: DIG

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I was determined to do just that in the unsolved murder case that I had just started investigating. I’d be digging for the next seven years! And finding skills I never knew I had.

I made myself laugh while turning my journal pages. On February 12th 2009, Mark Carter a presenter on BBC Radio Surrey, our local radio station asked morning listeners what a snail has 25,000 of.

My partner suggested 25,000 hungry French men waiting to eat them. I liked that. The radio station liked it too!

PARALLELS

injured parties cover

 

23 April 2016

I had discovered a parallel in my life: between the need, fourteen years ago, to get to the truth about Ruth Ellis, the last woman in the UK to be hanged and about whom I was writing a book, and the need to find the murderer in a cold case from nearly half a century ago of Dr Helen Davidson, a much-loved Buckinghamshire GP. It is this need , this search for truth, that was consuming me again. This time I was about to embark on a seven year journey…another search for a killer.

During those seven years people in the Buckinghamshire town of Amersham, an army of them, helped me. One person knew one thing…another knew something else. With their help I pieced together the story of Dr Helen Davidson, the victim of a random killing, like a jigsaw… except it was a jigsaw with no picture on the outside of the box.

And during those seven years it was important for me to track my journey. Not just in ever-thickening lever arch files of data tucked away in chronological order (the only way I could think of collating the stuff that I was accumulating each day) but also writing from the heart in my daily journal. I didn’t just want to remember facts and timings, I wanted to keep my memory going – not remembering is one of those nightmare situations – and daily journalling (finding light and shade about my journey) has been uppermost in my mind. I knew I would be asked ordinary questions at some stage about the people who gave me help, how I chanced on them and I wanted to be ready for those questions.

Each person I met knew a small part of the story. By talking to more and more people in Amersham I was connecting the dots…putting the story together…a different story to the one I’d read about in the newspaper cuttings emerged. One gentleman who was in hospital following a stroke was keen to talk to me. The message came through that he had a lot to say to me and he’d recommend other people if he didn’t know the answer to something. This snowball effect of information gathering also began in February 2009. I’d emailed an influential local history organisation in Amersham, simply asking if they had anything in their archives about Dr Helen Davidson who was murdered in 1966. This one email, opened on the computer by a lady who knew everybody (and if she didn’t know somebody she’d find somebody who did!) began a seven year friendship. In her first email to me she wrote “Following our meeting last night there were quite a lot of people who knew Dr Davidson, but none there who knew her personally. One person said her parents knew her well as patients, but her father died last year and mother has Alzeimers, but she took your contact details in case she finds any other people of her parents’ generation….I’ll let you know if I hear any helpful information”.

And she did!

 

JOURNAL ENTRIES AT THE BEGINNING OF MY SEARCH TO FIND A KILLER

Injured Parties Journal Entry for Blog2 (500x271)

22 April 2016

I looked back in my daily journal this morning. The date was 18th February 2009 when I began my search for a killer. I can’t believe the lengths I went to over the next seven years to acquire scraps of information. Scraps that eventually formed a whole….my new true crime book that is to be published in 10 days time. The email that day in February was from a weatherman whom I used to hear occasionally on BBC Radio Surrey. Ian Currie knows everything there is to know about the weather. I’d emailed him to pick his brain about the weather in Amersham in Buckinghamshire on the 9th and 10th November 1966! Some background research about weather conditions half a century ago now. It was on 9th November 1966 that Dr Helen Davidson was brutally attacked and murdered in woodland a few miles from Amersham. Her killer was never found.

I could almost hear Ian’s recognisable BBC voice in his reply to my email. He wrote:

“I do not think the weather was too outstanding with the temperature around 7C, cloudy and feeling chilly in moderate north east wind on the 9th. I think there was more in the way of sunshine on the 10th after an overnight frost……”

Two days later another email arrived in my inbox. This time it was from the RSPB. I’d asked an executive there about birds in Hodgemoor Wood, where Dr Davidson’s body was found on 10th November 1966. He was very keen to point out in a note, that ‘there would not have been red kites in the Chilterns – now there are and it is an area that is famous for its kites, but these are from a more recent introduction project, so please avoid any mention in the 1960s!’ I certainly wanted to get my 1960s bird facts correct.

By 29th March 2009, in my journal, I was thinking about the way in which Helen Davidson had been battered to death, her killer pushing her eyes into her skull, then grinding her head down into the earth with a shod foot.

I happened to pop into the living room where the Oxford and Cambridge Boat Race was on the tv. I wrote, “I couldn’t believe what I was hearing when they interviewed one of the Oxford crew. He was talking about visualisation. It made me sick. He said they would be visualising Cambridge faces pushed down in the ground, gaining complete control over them – complete domination. That’s not how I think visualisation should be. His words were sick, and I immediately thought of Dr Davidson’s sick killer. He, by his action of grinding the doctor’s head into the ground, wanted to dominate her. A tv commentator then said there are two ways of visualisation and that team member’s description was not how he would be visualising. He said he’d be visualising winning… what it feels like. How many million people would have listened to that Oxford crew member? Who has been teaching them this sort of mind game?”

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Advance info about my INJURED PARTIES TALK

Talk – How I came to write Injured Parties – Solving the Murder of Dr Helen Davidson