Arthur Alexander John FORD
( late of St James Ave, Glebe )
New South Wales Police Force
Regd. # ?
Stations: Bathurst, Grenfell, Petersham
Service: From ? to 19 December 1927. Went onto sick report on 14 December 1927
Died on: Monday 19 December 1927 about 10am
Cause: Murder / Suicide – firearm
Event location: Leichhardt
Funeral date: Wednesday 21 December 1927
Funeral location: ?
Buried at: Presbyterian Section, Rookwood Cemetery
Arthur Alexander John Ford died 19/12/1927 aged 49 from self inflicted gun shot wound to the head. He lived in Glebe with his wife and was stationed at Petersham at the time.
He shot Mrs Florence Laws in a lane way off Norton St, Leichhardt close to Parramatta Road. Mrs Laws lived in Stanmore.
The inquest stated that she was shot twice. Other accounts said that 5 shots were fired. Fords wife stated that he had ‘troubles’ following fractures to the base of his skull and above his left eye (not known if they were job related) and suffered fits of violence.
A couple of letters were not admitted into evidence but it was noted that Ford loved his wife.
Death is due to temporary insanity.
The information came out after the inquest. Unbeknown to Mrs Ford maybe until his final day(s) Ford had ‘known‘ Mrs Laws for some time. In one of the letters that was not read at the inquest he professors his love for his wife and said to her ‘you know all’ I think meaning he told her of Mrs Laws.
The letter that Mrs Laws wrote told of her deep love for Ford and just wanted to be with him. It would appear that on the day of their deaths, she had a dental appointment in Norton St, Leichhardt and she said to the dentist “I have a friend waiting outside”.
A friend says that he would hear the voice of his very young daughter who had died 2 years previously asking him to play a particular tune on the pianola (perhaps due to the affects of his head injuries).
Now comes the finale. He is buried in the Presbyterian section of Rookwood Cemetery. A report in the press has it that just as they finished the readings over his coffin, the coffin of Mrs Laws passed by and she was buried “a few yards” from Ford.
Northern Standard ( Darwin ) Tuesday 20 December 1927 page 3 of 4
Mrs. Florence Ellen Laws, of Percival Road, Stanmore, wife of a master builder, was shot dead in a lane off Norton Street, Leichhardt, yesterday morning, following a quarrel with Constable Arthur Alexander John Ford, of Petersham. The policeman is alleged to have killed Mrs. Laws and to have turned the revolver on himself. He also died. Ford fired five shots, four of which took effect on the woman, who died instantly. Ford was also married. When his wife heard, of the tragedy she collapsed.
The Age 20 December 1927 page 9 of 11
Truth ( Sydney ) Sunday 25 December 1927 page 13 of 20
MYSTERY LETTERS IN LEICHHARDT LOVE SHOOTING
‘MY OWN DEAREST LOVE’ Passionate Expressions to Policeman Who Killed Woman and Then Himself
“ALL MY LOVE UNTIL I SEE MY DARLING!”
MYSTERY letters, pulsating with terms of love and endearment, were found in the pockets of tall, strapping, handsome Constable Arthur Ford when he and Mrs. Florence Laws met death from revolver bullets in a little dead-end lane at Leichhardt on Tuesday morning. They were all unsigned. Only crosses to denote kisses concluded their amatory passages..
WHO – were these letters from? That is a big question for the Coroner when he delves into the tragedy that shocked the city, wrecked two homes and took a handsome man and an attractive and sunny-natured woman, from the earth. A wondering, heartbroken wife weeps silently in a little home in Glebe, mourning the death of her husband. “A fine man, Mr. Ford,” everyone said. He was big and straight and frank.
But on Wednesday he was buried, having gone from life by his own hand. On the fourteenth of this month he went off duty from the Petersham police station— ill. The next day he saw a doctor, who prescribed, and gave him a certificate which substantiated his application – for sick leave. His poor health apparently preyed upon his mind — a mind worried a good deal about other things. His mother had died and he mourned her passing. But there was more. And his thoughts turned to a little home in Percival-road, Stanmore, and to a little woman who lived there with her husband and her family.
Constable Arthur Ford and Mrs. Florence Laws were very firm friends and probably more, if the letters were penned by her, then they were lovers — passionately enamored. In her Stanmore home an astonished husband and father grieves at almost incredible news. Reddened, tear-stained eyes tell of the anguish of three sons, the youngest about 15, and of a pretty daughter. Their mother was her usual bright and cheery self on Monday morning. She left home, trim, petite, dark and well dressed and called at the grocery store just around the corner in Parramatta road. She left and walked smartly along Parramatta-road to Norton-street, where she went to the dental surgery of Dentist C. G. Everingham.
She was well-known there as a genial, lovable and striking woman, with a radiant personality and an unfailingly bright outlook on life. The adventure of existence was real to her. She revelled in it, and she had the happy knack of making others feel that life is worth while. At the surgery she submitted a plate to be repaired. It had been broken— by being dropped on to the floor, she explained. It was broken in such a way that a blow on her mouth might have conceivably been the cause. Only a few minutes she had been in the surgery, chatting away, when she excused herself by saying that a friend was waiting outside for her. The pair spoke on the pavement, and he walked along with her about ten yards, leading the way into a little dead end laneway between two houses facing Norton-street.
There the man, 49 years of age, and the woman, who was 12 years his junior, but who looked only 30, had a conversation which will never be known. Something was worrying Ford, and he told her about it.
Was there another man, – apart altogether from the husband? Or did he want her to be his own, and give up her home and children? The Coroner will he faced with a difficult task in elucidating this.
Whatever the discussion, they disagreed. Ford spoke plainly and bluntly.
The woman sensed danger and wanted to get away. In a frenzy he grasped her and tore her clothing. Then she saw the deadly service revolver being drawn out. There was one awful second of realisation. She screamed. In a frightful tattoo five shots barked out in rapid succession, tearing into her body on their work of destruction. The bullets emerged and bespattered the wall. She crumpled up and, with a little murmuring cry, fell dead, the red blood of life pouring from her, staining the green grass that grew along the wall at the side of the lane.
Without any hesitation Ford turned the revolver on himself. Just one shot. It was aimed true, and it seared through his head and brain. He was breathing still when horror-stricken people rushed to the laneway, but he died after being hurried away towards hospital.
Six shots had been fired. Two lives were taken. And a ruptured romance the cause of it all. Just what they were to each other is the problem that at once presents itself. The wife of Ford, attached and devoted to him, was in a state of collapse when police officers had told her the facts of the tragedy.
The husband of Mrs. Laws could shed little light on the matter beyond saying that he had met Ford, had, in fact, been introduced to him by his wife, who told him that Ford had helped her with a punctured tyre one day. Patrolling Parramatta-road, the stalwart constable must have met the woman in difficulties with her car. She drove herself about and had been a motorist for years, having in her home no lack of anything she desired; good clothes, jewellery, a car, and seemingly no lack of ready cash. Her husband is a master carrier, partner in a business concern. Whatever their association was it must have been heart whole. If the batch of letters found on the dead man came from the woman. Mr. Laws told the police that the writing was like that of his wife. Many of the screeds were on red ruled foolscap paper. Most had been posted in Sydney, and some in Annandale, but not one bore a signature except the crosses, crosses, crosses.
Sometimes the mystery she who wrote them would add a cross or two to the back of the letter for good measure. ‘My Own Dearest Love,’ was the favored form of introduction. Then the screed went on to messages of burning affection. “I’m sitting all alone thinking of my sweetheart,” read one. “I’ve been doing that all day. I’ve never been deceitful to you since I’ve known you. . .” and more like that. “I feel I must see you before I go to bed at night, and in the morning I wake up at four or five and think of my loved one . . ” One letter was apparently in reply to a criticism levelled regarding attendance at a dance, or possibly to forestall criticism. “I went to a dance last night,” wrote the mystery woman of the letters. “I danced with only one person all night, and I was wishing that you were with me . . .” And then followed fervent passages addressed to “Dear Sweetheart” speaking of lovely kisses and declaring that if he ever tired of her it would kill her. But apparently, if Mrs. Laws was the writer, poor Ford grew anything but tired of her. His passion seemed to transcend all reason, all restraints. Two of the letters in the batch are particularly significant regarding an obviously clandestine association, and the difficulties of avoiding detection. One letter, with no other date than “Sunday, 5 p.m.,” I read: “My Own Dearest Love,— I got your letter in the box this morning, sweetheart, at ten-past six, early for Sunday morning. I tried to keep awake on Saturday night, so I could hear you pass, but sleep overtook me. I woke about four o’clock this morning, and never went to sleep after thinking of you, darling, and of the happy hours we spent together. My Dear Arthur, you still seem to doubt me that I love you. I wish you would not think that. I have proved, dear, how much I do LOVE YOU, and I will never, never give you up. I read your sweet letter over and over again, and loved it. I was thinking of you out in the cold on Saturday night at the dogs. Darling, you must have nearly freezed. Did you ring here about 9.30? Somebody rang, and I thought it might have been you. Somebody else answered the ‘phone, and there was no answer. If you ring me on Tuesday let it be after 4. G. goes then. All my love and thoughts till I see my darling. X X X X X x F.L. x x xxx The F.L., thinly traced in a multitude of kisses, seems to have been the only attempt at signature. Both letters were capitals.
Another letter spoke of the suspicions that had been raised by the association of the writer and the Constable.
Dated only ‘Sunday,’ in much the same way as the other, it read:— My Own Dearest Love,— I’ve been thinking of you, love, since I saw you yesterday. You shouldn’t have come over to the car to speak to me after what I told you in the morning. I was that upset I didn’t know what I was talking about. Arthur, dear, you ought to have a little consideration for me when you know how I’ve been talked about. I Just feel I could clear a thousand miles away. Darling, when you see the little kid, N, I mean, don’t ask about me. I will tell you why when I see you. I will try and see you on Wednesday at lunch-time. I will drop you a note before then, sweetheart. All my love till I see you, dear. Then followed those little crosses that mean kisses – thirteen of them. An unlucky number !
The Sydney Morning Herald Friday 13 January 1928 page 12 of 20
CONSTABLE “UNDOUBTEDLY INSANE.”
” There cannot be the slightly doubt that Ford was suffering from some temporary insanity, ” said the Acting City.
Coroner (Mr. Flynn) at the conclusion yesterday of an inquiry into the death, on the morning of December 19, of Arthur Alexander John Ford, aged 49 years, a police constable, stationed at Petersham, and Mrs. Florence Ellen Laws, aged 37 years, of Percival-road, Stanmore, in a lane off Norton-street, Leichhardt.
The evidence was to the effect that Ford, after a quarrel with Mrs. Laws, drew his service revolver, and fired two shots at her, killing her instantly. He then turned the weapon on himself, inflicting a wound in the side of the head, from the effects of which he died a few minutes after admission to the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital.
Summing up the evidence, Mr. Flynn said the letters left behind by Ford showed that he regarded his wife with deep affection. All the evidence indicated that be was subject to an increasing mania for some time before his death, and the tragedy had occurred in one of his fits of violence.
Linda Beatrice Ford, wife of the constable, said that he had suffered, some considerable time before the occurrence, two fractures of the skull, one at the base and the other over the left eye. Shortly before the tragedy, he had continually complained of gnawing under the points of fracture. Witness had also noticed a change in his mental disposition. One night, seated at the pianola, he had asked for the roll “Rock of Ages,” stating: “Margery is calling me to play it.” Margery, witness explained, was an adopted daughter, who had been dead two years. On December 18 Ford told witness that he had a confession to make, and spoke of a woman named Florrie. Ford was perfectly sober when he left home on the morning of the tragedy. He was not a heavy drinker.
At this stage a letter was produced, and objected to by counsel for the relatives. In upholding the objection, Mr, Flynn said Ford was obviously insane when he wrote it. It was addressed in very affectionate terms to his wife. Another letter, found on the dead man, was not admitted, the Coroner explaining that it was a letter, couched in affectionate terms, from a certain person to Ford.
The Coroner found, that Mrs. Laws died from the effects of bullet wounds inflicted on her by Ford whilst he was suffering from some temporary mental aberration, and that Ford died from wounds self-inflicted whilst in the same condition of mind.
Mr. Sproule (of Messrs. R. D. Meagher, Sproule, and Co.) appeared for the relatives of Ford; Mr. Thomas Green for the relatives of Mrs. Laws; and Inspector Horsell for the police.
The Braidwood Review & District Advocate
Tuesday 3 January 1928 page 4 of 8
When Constable Ford murdered Mrs. Laws and then shot himself at Leichhardt recently, he completed a tragic triangle of death. He was the third constable who has served at Grenfell to die by violence.