Murder in Peking

Graeme Sheppard reopens an old investigation


The Times of London published this short but sensational news item on Saturday, January 9, 1937, under the title ‘British girl’s death in Peking; Murder Suspected’:

“The British authorities and the Chinese police are investigating the mysterious death last night of Pamela Werner, a 17-year-old British girl, the daughter of Mr. Chalmers Werner, the author and former British Consul at Foochow. She disappeared yesterday evening after skating at the French club rink. The body was found this morning inside the city wall and 250 yards from the girl’s home, at one of the loneliest spots in the city. It had been so badly mauled by stray dogs as to be unrecognisable and to make it difficult, except after a careful medical examination, to hazard a guess how she met her death, but in view of the lack of evidence that an accident had happened murder must be suspected.”

The Times was impressively quick off the mark with its report from its own correspondent in Peking, but the article contained two errors. Pamela Werner was nearly twenty, not seventeen, and her father’s name was Edward Theodore Chalmers Werner.