The Wigwam Murder
A Forensic Investigation in WW2 Britain
Imprint: Pen and Sword True Crime
200 Pages, 6.1 x 9.2 in, 20 mono illustrations
- August 2023
- In Stock
The body belonged to 19-year-old Joan Pearl Wolfe, a sweet, convent-educated girl who, according to her own mother, had gone bad. It was 1942 and England was swarming with British, Canadian and American troops building up to what would become D-Day two years later.
The Surrey police, over-stretched as all forces were during the war, called in Scotland Yard, the experts, in the form of Superintendent Ted Greeno, one of the most famous and formidable detectives of his day. One of the Surrey detectives recognized the dead girl’s dress – he had seen it on its owner weeks earlier and from that the body’s identity came to light.
Joan was a camp follower with a string of men interested in her, but her latest beau was the Métis Canadian August Sangret. He had slipped out to live with Joan in woods near to the camp and had built shacks – wigwams – as temporary homes. Charged with her murder, he gave the longest statement ever made to the police – seventeen pages of it – and Keith Simpson, the Home Office pathologist, became the first to produce a human skull in court. The distinctive wounds inflicted by Sangret’s knife convinced the jury of his guilt and he was hanged by Albert Pierrepoint in Wandsworth gaol.
An open and shut case? Far from it. For all the brilliance of forensic science and the dogged work of the police, the jury should still be out on August Sangret. As the judge said in his summing up, ‘there is no blood on this man’.