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The Cleft Chin Murder: London's 'Bonnie and Clyde' copycats

A photograph of a 1940s couple with an old map of London, UK in the background
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During the London Blackout of 1944, a crime spree that began with petty theft ended in brutal murder. The culprits were two young lovers and fantasists who saw themselves as ‘gangster and gangster moll’ inspired by the mythology of Bonnie and Clyde.

Fatal attraction

Elizabeth Marina Jones was a self-styled, strip-tease dancer who called herself Georgina Grayson. It was by chance she met a baby-faced American soldier who had joined the US paratroopers. Going by the name Ricky Allen, he saw himself as a tough hood, the kind he watched in Hollywood gangster movies. Together the couple’s collaboration of crime was fostered in a culture of dancehalls, seedy bars and a mutual obsession with American film-noir cinema.

Reality versus alter egos

Born in 1926 in Glamorgan, the 18-year-old Elizabeth Marina Jones was known as a problem child and sent to an approved school. At 16 she married Corporal Stanley Jones, who was, according to her confession, a violent husband. She left him and headed to London, where on 3rd October 1944 at a café in Hammersmith, her path collided with a dangerous man who changed her life.

22-year-old Second Lieutenant ‘Ricky’ looked handsome in a US officer’s uniform. In reality, the uniform was stolen and he was an army deserter called Karl Gustav Hulten. Swedish-American Hulten regaled the impressionable Jones with yarns about being involved with ‘the mob’ in Chicago. He had, in fact, been a shoe salesman.

Jones also exaggerated her colourful past. She claimed to be an experienced exotic dancer but actually had only ever had one low-end job. Hulten pretended to be a gangster and Jones loved the idea of being his moll.

Six days of mayhem

The couple met again the same evening outside a cinema. When Jones told him that she wanted to do something ‘dangerous’, such as fly over to Germany in a bomber, Hulten instead showed her his gun. Keen to impress his naïve companion, Hulten told her that he was going to hold up a hotel in Maidenhead. On their way along the darkened roads, they passed a girl on a bicycle. Wanting to show how tough he was, Hulten callously knocked her down and instructed Jones to ransack her handbag.

After abandoning the planned hold-up, Hulten instead followed a taxi planning to rob it. He blocked its path with his stolen truck and brandished a gun. Hulten quickly left the scene when he realised the passenger was an American army officer.

The couple spent the next few days travelling around together and indulging in a series of vicious crimes. One of their victims was a young woman who accepted a lift to Paddington Station. Instead, she was taken to a deserted spot in Runnymede Park and struck around the head with an iron bar. She fought back but was partially strangled by Hulten as Jones helped to subdue her. They left her unconscious body by the River Thames but she ultimately survived.

Murder for no reason

On the night of 6th October, Hulten and Jones walked along Hammersmith Road and hailed a private-hire vehicle driven by 34-year-old George Heath. Hulten told him to take them to the main shopping street and then to continue towards Chiswick. According to Jones’ testimony, Hulten pulled out a gun while the car was moving and shot the driver.

As the wounded George Heath lay dying, Jones rifled his pockets. Committing a murder for just £8, the couple spent the stolen money at the dog races. The day after the murder, Hulten went to a barber’s shop and offered Heath’s watch for sale.

Hunt and capture

The next day Hulten and Jones drove around Heath’s car, unaware that the body had been found, identified and a description of the stolen vehicle circulated to all police. It was spotted close to the hospital on Fulham Road and Hulten was quickly arrested. Jones was also later arrested and charged with murder.

Trial and execution

Hulten was handed immediately to the American army authorities who waived the Visiting Forces Act so he could be tried in a British court.

The couple were tried at the Old Bailey and found guilty of murder. Hulten was condemned to death and hanged at Pentonville Prison on 8th March 1945. Jones escaped capital punishment despite an outcry from the public and press and was sent to prison. She was released in 1954 and died in the mid-1980s.

The cowardly murder which had brought the couple’s infantile orgy of destruction to an end became known as the ‘Cleft Chin Murder’ because of a noticeable feature on their victim’s face.