Date Of Execution: 16 Jun 1914
Crime Location: Goddard Arms Hotel, Swindon
Execution Place: Winchester
Executioner: John Ellis
Walter James White was convicted of the murder of his girlfriend Frances Priscilla Hunter 24 and sentenced to death.
He cut her throat at the Goddard Arms Hotel in Swindon on 29 April 1914.
Walter White was a house decorator and worked in Swindon.
Frances Hunter had been a domestic servant in service in Bargoed in South Wales, but she appeared to have run away or lived with her employer, a married man, for three months, but then returned to Swindon in June 1913 where she got place as a maid at the Goddard arms public house and where she then made the acquaintance of Walter White and they started to keep company.
On Saturday 25 April 1914 Walter White took Frances Hunter for a weekend in Bargoed where her three brothers were lodging with a woman. However, the woman knew of the scandal and would not receive Frances Hunter. Walter White then suspected that something was wrong, and they went back to Swindon that night.
On 27 April 1914, Walter White received a letter from the woman hinting at the scandal and offered to tell him about it if he came to see her, which he did that day, and he then learned all the details of it from her.
The following day 28 April 1914, Walter White purchased cartridges and showed a revolver to the woman and to one of Frances Hunter's brothers. He then returned to Swindon on 29 April 1914 and then after writing some farewell letters which pointed to murder and suicide, he went looking for Frances Hunter at the Goddard Arms.
After he met Frances Hunter at the Goddard arms they retired to the coalhouse together and a few minutes later two shots were heard.
Walter White then came out of the coalhouse and after firing four more shots in the air he gave himself up.
Frances Hunter had been shot in the neck and head at very close range.
After Walter White was arrested, he said, 'I asked her if the tale was right and she confessed that she had disgraced me and hoped God would forgive her. I told her she would never deceive anybody else as I was going to kill her. She said, 'For God's sake do it then', she kissed me goodbye and I then shot her and waited for someone to come. I asked the man to fetch the police. I bought the revolver and cartridges in Bargoed on Tuesday'.
The police report noted that it was possible that his story was true, noting that if he really intended to shoot himself that his courage might have failed him resulting in him emptying his revolver in the air.
He was convicted of murder and sentenced to death, but the jury recommended him to mercy on the grounds of his youth. However, the judge did not endorse their recommendation.
Walter White was given a good character, but the police report to the Home Secretary noted that the murder was a cruel one and youth alone, him being 22, would not justify a reprieve.
The judge’s notes further noted that Walter White had only made the acquaintance of Frances Hunter after the incident in South Wales and stated that the provocation would have been much greater if they had been sweethearts before the incident. His notes stated that it appeared that Walter White's grievance was that Frances Hunter and her parents had allowed him to fall in love with her without being told of her past.
As such, the police report concluded that they did not think that there were sufficient grounds for interference in the sentence and Walter White was executed at Winchester on 16 June 1914.
see National Archives - HO 144/1319/252543