The Mysterious 1919 Disappearance And Murder Of Mamie Stuart

In December 1919, 26-year-old Mamie Stuart sent her family a telegram. In addition to wishing them a Merry Christmas, Stuart invited her family to come stay with her and her husband, George, at their Wales home. As reported by WalesOnline, Stuart seemingly disappeared shortly after sending the telegram, and her whereabouts would remain a mystery for more than four decades.

A naive of Sunderland, England, Stuart was described as an attractive woman who had dreams of becoming a star. According to WalesOnline, Stuart left home when she was in her late teens and began touring with a group of dancers and showgirls. She later formed her own dance troupe, The Five Verona Girls. By July 1917, Stuart returned to Sunderland, where she met a man named George Shotton. Born and raised in Wales, Shotton was a marine engineer who traveled extensively for his work. Although many men his age were in the midst of fighting in World War I, Shotton's job exempted him from the draft.

Her husband was living a double life

As reported by WalesOnline, Mamie Stuart and George Sutton married in 1917 and originally lived together in Bristol. However, they moved around quite often, living in Caswell Bay, Mumbles, Newton, and Swansea. When Stuart and Sutton first met, Sutton was already married to another woman — with whom he shared a child. However, instead of ending his other marriage first, Sutton simply married Stuart as well and began leading a double life. Although Stuart was unaware her husband had another family, she began expressing discontent with the relationship.

In letters to her family and friends, Stuart confessed that she and Shotton frequently argued. She also expressed that she missed her work traveling with a dance troupe and the freedom the lifestyle afforded her. A letter from Shotton to Stuart, which was dated July 25, 1919, and published by Wales Online, underlines the discontent Stuart was experiencing in the marriage.

Mamie Stuart was not happy in her marriage

In the letter, George Shotton said (per WalesOnline), "You ask to be free. Are you not more free that [sic] any other girl? ... I gave myself to you long ago. You never seemed to care after a few short weeks. I did my best for you. I gave you my name and my love, and you trifled with both." Shotton also suggested he believed Stuart wanted to file for divorce.

When Stuart's family attempted to reply to the telegram Stuart sent in December of that same year, their letters were returned to them with notification that she was no longer living at that address. At the time, they were not specifically concerned. However, three months later, they received a call from authorities that made them fear for Stuart's life. WalesOnline reports that a trunk was abandoned on the premises of the Grosvenor Hotel in Swansea by a male guest in December of the previous year, but the hotel staff did not attempt to open the trunk until March 1920. When they opened the trunk, they discovered it was full of what appeared to be Stuart's personal possessions.

She seemingly vanished into thin air

Law enforcement officials contacted Mamie Stuart's family to confirm the items inside the trunk were hers. As reported by WalesOnline, Stuart's family confirmed the contents of the trunk were Stuart's and also told authorities they had not heard from her since December of the previous year. Authorities immediately launched an investigation into Stuart's disappearance. They searched the region and distributed flyers with Stuart's photo. However, nobody had seen her in months. They also conducted a dig in the yard at Stuart and George Shotton's last known address but did not find any evidence pertaining to Stuart or her disappearance.

Reasoned Crime Chronicle reports that Stuart's family shared letters she sent them, in which she expressed that she was unhappy in her marriage. Law enforcement officials began suspecting Shotton may have been somehow involved in his wife's disappearance. However, it took some time for them to locate him. When they found him, he was living with his other wife and their child.

George Shotton was convicted of bigamy and jailed

When he was first questioned, George Shotton admitted he and Mamie Stuart were in a relationship. However, he denied that they were ever married. As reported by Reasoned Crime Chronicle, Shotten said he and Stuart had an argument and she broke off their relationship shortly after. He denied having any idea where she was or what happened to her. Although authorities suspected he was involved in Stuart's disappearance, they did not have any evidence that he caused her any harm. As they had not found a body, they could not confirm Stuart was dead. However, Shotton was ultimately charged with and convicted of committing bigamy. According to WalesOnline, he was subsequently sentenced to 18 months in prison with hard labor.

According to Reasoned Crime Chronicle, Shotton's first wife divorced him upon his release from prison. She later admitted he was abusive and could be violent at times. Nevertheless, Shotton was never arrested or charged in Stuart's disappearance. When Shotton died in 1959, his wife's disappearance remained a mystery. However, two years later, three men made a gruesome discovery near a home Stuart and Shotton once shared. On November 5, 1961, John Gerke, Graham Jones, and Colin MacNamara were exploring an old mine shaft when they found human remains, including a skull. Next to the bones, they found several pieces of jewelry, including a set of wedding rings.

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Mamie Stuart's remains were found 40 years after she vanished

As reported by WalesOnline, authorities were called to the scene to recover the remains from the mine shaft. The bones were eventually turned over to a pathologist, who determined the deceased was a woman in her mid-20s, approximately 5 feet 3 inches tall. The pathologist also concluded the body had been cut into several pieces, likely with a hacksaw.

Although the remains were far too decomposed to determine the woman's identity or her cause of death, authorities eventually identified the woman as Mamie Stuart based on the jewelry found next to the bones. Reasoned Crime Chronicle reports that a criminal inquest ultimately determined George Shotton was likely responsible for Stuart's death, and she was likely killed sometime between November 12 and December 6, 1919. However, as Shotton was already dead, he could not be questioned or charged with a crime.

Following the examination of Stuart's bones and the inquisition, WalesOnline reports the remains were stored in a lab at Cardiff University. Although they were reportedly lost at one point, they were eventually recovered and placed back in the lab. According to Reasoned Crime Chronicle, the lab did not have any knowledge that Stuart had any living relatives, and her relatives thought she was already buried. However, in 2020, the remains were returned to a family member, and Stuart was finally laid to rest next to her parents.