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Torso mystery revisited

Readers of Gloucestershire’s evening newspapers are being asked to help solve a grisly murder that originally made the headlines in 1938.

The Haw Bridge Torso murder has never been solved.

But now student Andrew Parry is researching the infamous case – after finding out about it while researching the murder of his own great uncle in the Forest of Dean in 1931.

He’s using newspaper records to look into the case and has built up a colourful picture of the events from 60 years ago.

He recalls his grandfather telling him how he saw bloodstains on the bridge after the Haw Bridge murder, when a torso was found which was thought to belong to a missing man, Captain William Butt.

The head, hands and feet have never been recovered but a skull was found in 1978.

Andrew told the Gloucestershire Echo he had been working on the case since October and had been lucky enough to get co-operation from Scotland Yard and the county police force.

He told readers: “I’ve tracked down a few people who were inadvertently mixed up in the case.

“It was in the Gloucestershire Echo on a daily basis at the time so I’ve managed to make some connections.

“I’d love to hear from readers who have memories or documentary material related to the mystery.”

Cpt Butt lived in Cheltenham with his invalid wife and nurse Irene Sullivan.

Her son Brian, a gigolo dancer, killed himself two weeks after Cpt Butt went missing. It is thought the two men were lovers. Police later found the captain’s car keys and bloodstained coat under flagstones at the Sullivans’ house. One theory is that Brian arranged illegal abortions carried out by his mother at home and when the affair turned sour the captain threatened to expose the racket. The skull was found at a property where Mrs Sullivan later lived.

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