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Past Times

On This Day 1964: Moray murder with a sting in the tail

A tragic murder took place in Lhanbryde, with more tragedy to befall the family three years later. reports.
Susy Macaulay
Lhanbryde in Moray had to deal with the trauma of a murder on this day in 1964. Image: DCT/John Wilkie
Lhanbryde in Moray had to deal with the trauma of a murder on this day in 1964. Image: DCT/John Wilkie

The Moray village of Lhanbryde was shaken by news of a murder on this day in 1964.

The body of a woman had been found lying in a garden, and following a statement from the fiscal in Elgin, it was announced that the incident was being treated as a case of murder.

Mrs Jessie Forsyth, 36, who lived in Templand Road in the village, was found at 21 Robertson Road showing signs of a severe attack.

Image of Jessie Forsyth printed in The Press & Journal newspaper in 1964.
Image: DCT

The P&J reported that a man had been taken into custody in Aberdeen Royal Infirmary, having been transported there from Dr Gray’s hospital in Elgin.

His condition was described as serious.

All readers knew at that point was from a statement from Elgin police.

Mrs Jessie Raff Perrie or Forsyth, wife of Mr James Forsyth was attacked and suffered severe injuries from which she died in the garden.

Police had taken charge of a possible weapon.

P&J headline from 1964 reads: 'Police called to Lhanbryde find woman dying in garden'
Image: DCT

Shortly after the tragedy a man was found injured as a result of a street accident near the scene.

It emerged that Mrs Forsyth, and her 10 year old adopted daughter Jennifer had been visiting a neighbour, a Mrs Peggy Miller.

The murder had taken place in the Miller’s garden.

At the time Mr Forsyth, 51, was in his house some 30 yards away, unaware of the unfolding tragedy.

P&J headline reads: 'Tragic shock' for husband after wife had gone visiting
Image: DCT

He said: “It was a tragic shock. I had been sitting watching television during the early evening and knew nothing about it. Jessie had gone across to help Mrs Miller and I told her I would make my own supper.”

As the news emerged, neighbours came out and stood in groups discussing it.

Mrs Forsyth, originally from Burghead, was a bus cleaner at the Elgin depot of Alexanders, and Mr Forsyth was a janitor at St Andrews-Lhanbryde school.

Husband’s brother was suspect in murder of Lhanbryde woman

It later came out that the murder suspect was Mr Forsyth’s own brother, Ronald Edward Forsyth.

He was charged with Jessie’s murder, but at the High Court in Edinburgh a few months later he was found to be insane and ordered to be detained in a State hospital.

As if this case wasn’t sad enough, more tragedy was to befall the Forsyth family.

Almost exactly three years later, Mr Forsyth died in Dr Gray’s after an accident on the Elgin-Lhanbryde Road.

Press and Journal headline reads: Moray janitor is road victim.
Image: DCT

The accident happened at Sheriffston Cottages—a notorious accident black spot in recent years, reported the P&J.

You might enjoy this story about another, very different murder in Lhanbryde:

How two lost souls collided in Moray, leaving one murdered and one hanged in Inverness Prison

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