History repeats itself, however, after a while you might begin to wonder if there is more to it? With centuries over its belt, the suburb of Erdington of England has encountered violence murders before but nothing matched the horrors as the murders of Mary Ashford and Barbara Forrest aka Erdington Murders.

Mary Ashford and Barbara Forrest, both girls were 20 years old and were slain in the early morning hours of May 27, each of their bodies was found partially clothed and showed signs of sexual assault and the cause of death as also the same – by strangling.

The main suspect in the Erdington Murders had the same last name the surprising part is that their death took 157 years apart.


Mary Ashford

Mary Ashford was a young woman living in the year 1817 in the evening before her death. She had to attend the local dance in honor of With Moonday a floating holiday mainly celebrated by European Christians. Before going to the dance she went to her best friend’s house to change the dress and then both of them departed for the dance.

After arriving the had no shortage of admirers and Mary only had eyes for one man, a local bricklayer named Abraham Thorton. The couple started dancing and left together and weren’t seen again until 4:00 in the morning when they parted ways but two and half hours later Mary was found dead in a flooded sandpit.

Abraham Thorton was arrested as the main suspect of the murder as they were seen together the last time. Time went on and 157 years later in 1975 Barbara Forrest’s body also lay murdered just 300 yards away from where Mary’s had been found in 1817.

Barbara Forrest

The day before Barbara’s death also fell on Whit Monday. In the evening before the festival, she also changed her dress in her best friend’s house for a night of dancing to celebrate the holiday. The last person to see her alive was her boyfriend who walked her to the bus stop at 1:00 A.M.

Detectives putting up posters regarding the Barbara Forrest murder(on left), Detectives searching the spot where the body of Barbara Forrest was found(on right)
Detectives putting up posters regarding the Barbara Forrest murder(on left), Detectives searching the spot where the body of Barbara Forrest was found(on right).

Barbara’s body was discovered days later on June 4th, police arrested a man who worked with Barbara at a pipe haze Children’s Home, a man named Michael Thorton. However, Michael Thorton and Abraham Thorton shared no relation but they both weres accused of killing a young girl separated by over a century of time both Thorton’s went to trial and were found not guilty and acquitted of all charges. The jury in each case cited the evidence against them as merely circumstantial.

A policeman who was investigating the case noticed strange coincidence while looking through old files even more seemingly coincidental reality between Barbara and Mary that they both shared the same date of birth and had strikingly similar facial features and according to the family of each girl prophesized that the days ahead would only bring them suffering.


Unlucky month in Erdington Murders

Even more chilling are accounts of both women feeling a sense of dread leading up to the day to their deaths. Mary Ashford reportedly told her friend’s mother that she had “bad feeling about the week to come”. Barbara Forrest had also confined to a friend ten days before her murder “This is going to be my unlucky month. I just know it. Don’t ask me why.”

How evening mail reported the discovery of Barbara Forrest
How the evening mail reported the discovery of Barbara Forrest. Credit: Evening Mail

The Erdington Murders remains unsolved to this day. Some view it as a mere coincidence while others see them as signs of something sinister. The people of Erdington continue to search for answers to these strangely similar cases.

What do you think? The murders were merely coincidental or anything sinister should be considered. Read about coincidental twin tragedy of two brothers who died a year apart, riding the same moped, by the same taxi driver carrying the same passenger.


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