The 1914 murder of David Ombler

David OmblerDavid Ombler was 72 years old when he was beaten to death in his own home. His murder is possibly Britain’s oldest unsolved homicide. It happened May 30, 1914.

The Case

On May 30, 1914, Mr. Ombler (72), a market trader from Hull, was found by his neighbor lying on his back on his kitchen floor on West Parade, Hull, with head injuries. He was quickly taken to the infirmary but passed away. His skull was fractured from the forehead to the back of his head. He was beaten with a fire poker and pair of tongs. There was evidence of a struggle.

Ombler had been at a wholesale market earlier that morning. Ombler’s housekeeper arrived around 8am that morning but by that time the attacker was gone. So the attack took place between the time Ombler came home from the market and the arrival of his housekeeper very early in the morning.

Possible Motive

David Ombler was relatively wealthy and despite his age, he was considered a fit man. He lived alone after his wife passed away. I have not found anything in the papers about possible children. I did find that he had a brother, Hull city councilor and publisher, Esq. Edwin Ombler.

There was a rumour that Ombler was killed over a bag of gold that he apparently carried with him. His killer stole a dark grey overcoat, a gold Albert, an old silver lever hunter watch, a very old silver coloured dial watch with steel hands and a purse.

The papers described that David Ombler’s attacker was possibly an unknown stranger who was seen lurking around Ombler’s grocery store that same day. That information came from Ombler’s neighbor’s employee. Someone mentioned a “man with a speckled muffler “prowling about” the scene of the crime on the morning in question.” Another description I found said “shabby” so this could mean a vagrant, a drifter, or simple a poor man.


Police offered a £50 reward for information that could lead to the killer’s capture. I do not know whether there is still a reward for information that can solve this case. Authorities thought that none of the stolen items had been up for sale on the black market. I wonder if any were ever retrieved.


I could not find any images of David Ombler online. That is why his post is accompanied by one of my generic angels. I would love to add his own picture here to give him a proper web presence. If you have a picture or a link to a newspaper article, please contact me.

Rest in peace David Ombler.