THE BRIGHTON TRUNK MURDERS An Unknown Woman d. 1934 and Violette Kay 1892 - 1934

On June 17th 1934 the cloakroom attendant at Brighton Station became aware of a foul odour which appeared to be coming from a trunk which has been left there. He called the railway police who opened the trunk, finding inside the naked torso of a woman. The following day another trunk at Kings Cross Station in London was also opened by the Railway police; it contained the head and legs of the women who had been found at Brighton Station. A post mortem was held and it was discovered that the young woman had been pregnant. The country was horrified and the Chief Constable of Brighton police called in Scotland Yard and a massive nationwide operation followed to try to identify the women and to apprehend her murderer. For the first time ever the police appealed directly to the public for help and information using the Press and a nationwide hunt began. Lists of young women who had been reported as missing were published with a description of the dead woman; photographs of the trunks were printed in the search to identify the owners, thousands of statements were taken and hundreds of letters received. A Water Diviner from Brighton offered his Psychic abilities. To no avail. The dead woman remains unidentified and her murderer was never brought to justice.


Violet or Violette Kay was a known prostitute who had once been a dancer in a of a Musical hall Act Kaye and Kaye. She was the estranged wife of a coal miner and was also known by the names of Saunders and of Watson and she was said to live at 44 Crescent Lane, Brighton (now demolished.) At the time of her death she was known to be associated with a man known as Tony Mancini lodging at 52 Kemp Street in Brighton.

At the time of the nationwide search to identify the dead woman of the Trunks murders in June 1934, and in response to the appeal from the police for the public to help identify the dead woman in the trunk, the local paper received information that Violette Kay was missing. Tony Mancini was questioned and gave his name as Cecil Lois England; the police were not satisfied and entered his lodgings finding the body of Violette Kay in a black trunk in the cellar. Mancini was arrested and tried for her murder; it being proved that he could not have deposited the bodies in the trunks at the two stations.

He was tried under the name of John Notyre and his defence was that she had died by accident and that for fear of the police he had hidden her body when he had come across it. He had a good barrister; he was acquitted. However in 1976 aged 68 he finally confessed to the murder. Violet Kay is buried in the Brighton and Preston Cemetery, the numbers in Kemp Street have been changed.