The Death of Merle Shelton
King William Street, Adelaide, a bustling hive of activity in 1925, butchers, barbers, music shops, this was one the main shopping areas of South Australia’s capitol.
At the southern end of the Street stood Messengers Ham shop, a small establishment that served food, but also had an upstairs area where people boarded.
One of the borders, Mr Tom Watson had come to Adelaide from the Eastern states just three months before. Mr Watson had lived previously in Melbourne and Sydney.
Merle Shelton, a young married woman who lived with her parents in nearby Trinity gardens, worked in the shop as a waitress. Although married, it would seem she struck up a relationship with Mr Watson.
Mr Watson soon came to work for Merle’s father,Mr George Perks, who was a carpenter in the Norwood area.
On Wednesday the 15th of July, the owner of Messengers Ham and beef Shop ventured upstairs at 3pm to see what had become of Merle, who had gone upstairs at 2:45pm, right before her shift and had not returned. The owner went up to look for her at 4pm
The owner saw Mr Watson sitting, back against the wall in his room, bleeding profusely from two holes in his head, in his hand was a small revolver, laying just to the left of him, facedown on the floor in a pool of her own blood, was 21 year old Merle Shelton.
Watson was still alive, and died later from his wounds in a nearby hospital.
|The Sydney Morning Herald
, Wednesday 15 July 1925, page 16
A police inquest began into the murder suicide immediately, and a few facts became public knowledge, Mr Tom Watson was also know by other names, “Jack Watson” and also his real name Tom Weathered.
Weathered had been a private in the army but was also a union member of the “Meat Union” and had previously been working in a slaughterhouse.
He had complained of sleeplessness to the owners previously, and had said he had been awake for almost 4 days.
No-one really knows his motives for killing Merle, maybe she was breaking it off with Tom and returning to her estranged husband, no-one except the Merle and Tom really know the truth as to what happened.
© 2013 Allen Tiller
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