Who fired the shot that killed boxer Freddie Mills?
The inquest ruled suicide.
On 24 July, 1965, Freddie Mills, then 46, climbed into the back seat of his Citroen and shot himself in the head.
He’d been massively in debt. His career was more or less over. He’d been battling depression, too.
That’s why he’d done it, the inquest found.
For a while, he’d been one of the most famous sportsmen in the country.
A light-heavyweight boxer, he’d won European titles, world titles and championships.
In 1950, aged 30, he’d retired from boxing ring for the lure of show business.
He’d started commentating on sports events. Then presented the Six-Five Special – a popular music show. He even had cameos in two Carry On films.
But it wasn’t long before Freddie’s new career was over.
So, he invested in a boxing school in Streatham, and opened a nightclub, the Nite Spot on London’s Charing Cross Road.
The nightclub was soon swallowing all his money.
And it was behind that club his body had been found.
Shot through the right eye.
But Freddie Mills hadn’t left a note, and his wife, Chrissie, couldn’t accept he’d kill himself.
‘He was loveable, affectionate, vivacious,’ she told journalists.
‘Freddie would never accept defeat,’ his former promoter, Jack Solomons, said.
Psychologists agreed. Soon after Freddie’s death, Brain J Ford, President of the European Union of Science Journalists’ Associations, even wrote an article about it.
Freddie didn’t fit the psychological profile for suicide.
And he medical examiner spotted signs of a physical struggle on Freddie’s body. One that had happened shortly before death.
A rifle was used. It would have been impossible to turn a rifle 180 degrees to shoot yourself.
Also, Freddie had been shot straight through the eye – people killing themselves tend to shoot through the temple. And Freddie’s eyes had been open, indicating he was looking at someone…
It all pointed to murder.
Bafflingly, the medical examiner was not called to give evidence at the inquest. Neither was Brian J Ford.
Fifty years later, mystery still surrounds Freddie Mills’ death.
Some believe he was killed by gangsters. He’d been the victim of an extortion racket, was paying a fortune to a Chinese triad for protection.
The triad had tried to buy his nightclub, but Freddie had refused.
Had the triad made an example of him?
Freddie was friends with the Kray twins, London’s most notorious and violent gangsters.
Ronnie and Reggie Kray had both been amateur boxers.
And his friendship with the Krays raised another possibility.
Perhaps Freddie did kill himself – because he was gay.
Ronnie Kray was gay, and there were rumours Reggie was, too.
In the early-to-mid 1960s, being gay was illegal.
It’s possible Freddie and Ronnie were more than friends. Scared he was about to be outed, had he killed himself?
But there is another, more sinister, possibility…
Did Freddie Mills take his own life because he was about to be branded a serial killer?
In 1964, the first victim of an unknown murderer was found washed up on the banks of the Thames.
Hannah Tailford, 30, was a prostitute.
She was found naked, strangled. Her underwear forced down her throat.
Five more victims followed.
All young prostitutes. All naked.
The killer was nicknamed Jack the Stripper.
In February, 1965, his last victim was discovered. And the killer has never been identified.
Could he have been Freddie Mills?
Jack the Stripper didn’t strike again after Freddie Mills’ death…
The police had made a series of statements before Freddie’s death saying they were closing in on their man. But no link to Freddie has ever been proven.
So what did happen to Freddie Mills?
For 50 years, that question has met the same response.
Jack the Stripper?
Freddie Mills’ connection to the Stripper murders has never been substantiated, and there have been other unproven suspects…
Flecks of paint were found on the last of Jack the Stripper’s victims. These were traced to the trading estate where Mungo was a security guard. Mungo also killed himself in 1965.
Brian worked as a police officer, and a number of his colleagues suspected he was involved in the killings.
In 1921, aged just 15, Harold killed two small girls and served 20 years. By 1947, he’d been released and was living near where the first victim was found. He died of bone cancer in 1971.