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Cops Confused at Celtic Carnage

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In 1993 Mid-Wales police were bewildered by a series of events in Powys. Despite the attentions of both of the county's detectives, no satisfactory explanation for the events was ever forthcoming. Police recovered a number of artifacts and a succession of letters linked to one of the supposed victims. The events have entered Welsh folklore as the "Mysterious Misdeeds of Montgomeryshire".

Letter One

The first letter was found by milkman Llew Rhys. A piece of perfumed notepaper had been pinned to the front door of Tyn-y-Capel Farm by a bloodied breadknife. The door to the farm was open but there was no one inside. The text of the letter was unhelpful to the police in their inquiries but raised questions in the minds of the investigating officers, as did the absence of the three known occupants of the farm.

Hi Pal,

This is me. (Not really. Sunflowers need sunshine so they don't grow in Machynlleth.)

I hope you don't mind me calling you that, only I don't know you yet. My name is Eira and I saw an advert in the newspaper for a group called "Friends for Felons". It said that there were hundreds of prisoners in America with no one to visit them and no email so I thought I'd join and see if I could spread a little cheer.

I'm writing to you from Machynlleth in North Wales where I live with my brother Tomos and our father. You'll have to excuse my English only I don't get to practise much. Dad is 75 has Alzheimer's (that's a disease we import from Germany for some reason). He doesn't speak much except when he shouts and then it's in Welsh. Tom's very patriotic, so he likes to pretend that he's never been able to speak English. He spends most of his time waiting for tourists from over the border to drive by so he can drop his trousers and show them his bits. I don't think Tom has Alzheimer's because he's only 40 - I think it's mad cow disease because when he worked in McDonalds in Shrewsbury twenty years ago he ate a lot of beef-burgers and he could speak English perfectly well then.

Anyway, I won't write much in case you need to bother someone to read this to you. Chin up and if you feel like writing (or getting someone to write for you) I'll look forward to hearing from you,

Hwyl fawr,


Letter Two

Within minutes of police arriving at Tyn-y-Capel Farm detectives had discovered a second letter impaled into the skull of a ewe tethered to the back of a tractor. Inspector Iolo Gruffydd began to wonder if a dangerous criminal had been at work.

Dear Pal,

Some of the research scientists up at the Alternative Energy Centre.

Thanks for replying. Who'd have thought that Bubba was a name? I always thought it was chewing gum. But then Eira's probably new to you as a name. It means snow - though we don't get much of that in Machynlleth because it doesn't usually stop raining long enough for any other type of weather.

It's quite a coincidence that your prison is in Boston because there's a Boston over here too! I looked in Dad's Atlas and your Boston's huge. The one here is tiny, we went there once but I think it was being re-decorated. The Atlas said that your Boston is in New England and we have one of those here too. But it's not new, it's been around ages.

You asked about Machynlleth but what can I say? It's mostly hills covered with wet sheep and there's a little village with a couple of shops and some pubs. It's not really famous for anything except rain and there's nothing out of the ordinary except the Alternative Energy Centre - that's a hill covered with wet hippies who've been saving the world up there for 40 years. Our farm backs onto their place but I haven't been there recently, though I see it on TV sometimes. Still, they must have got really good at generating green electricity or they'd never be able to heat that huge greenhouse full of spiky plants they built in their woods next to our paddock last year. Not that we're supposed to speak about that.

I'll see if I can find some real pictures of me and the items you requested but I'm not sure I have any topless photos because I don't get to the beach very often. I know you said that you like to avoid the shower block but it's important to keep up your personal standards, however long you're in there for.

Hwyl Fawr,


Letter Three

The third letter was discovered yards away from the burned out wreckage of a Landrover known to be missing from Tyn-y-Capel farm. Police discovered the words "I Killed Them All" scrawled in blood on the reverse of the letter and suspected foul play.

Prince Charles looked a bit strange when the hippies had finished with him. Perhaps green tea doesn't agree with him.

Dear Pal,

Sorry about the misunderstanding. When you asked me to send underwear I thought you meant for you. Whatever would you want with my old undies? Still, I'll see what I can do.

Anyway, I'm glad you liked the cake I sent and that it got there in one piece. Shame I forgot the file! (That's a joke, I know they read your mail.) It must be very boring being stuck in a cell all day but it's not much more exciting being stuck in Machynlleth. There's not a lot to do around here unless you're interested in sheep. And lots of men in the village are very interested in sheep.

Mind you, there was quite a stir this week. Prince Charles came to have a cup of green tea with the hippies on the hill! Tom saw all the big cars with English flags on them and showed them his bits. We haven't seen him since then. A police Inspector came to the farm to speak to Dad about having Tom sectioned. I'm not sure what that means but I think it's some sort of operation to make his brain work properly again. Anyway, Dad was in the barn with me looking after a poorly lamb. He took one look at the Inspector, screamed and threw sheep-shit at him. He's been in a secure old folks' home ever since, so I've had to look after the farm on my own.

So, no time to write more now, too many things to do.

Hwyl Fawr,


Letter Four

The fourth letter was clearly designed to heighten public fear. Photocopies of the original had been posted to Y Cymro, the Western Mail and the Queen Mother. On the reverse of each of the letters the address of a Bed And Breakfast in Abertawe had been written in blood.

Dear Pal,

How are you feeling now? I've never had an enema but it doesn't sound much like fun. Whatever can the prison doctor have expected to find up there?

The hippies don't like me looking in the feed-store any more.

I don't mind sending underwear again but you really mustn't worry about my "busy schedule" so much, I don't mind washing them first. Anyway, Dad and Tom are back to help me with the stock now. Dad has to go to a day-care centre twice a week to weave baskets and play bingo, and Tom's been given an Asbo - which is a piece of paper which says he'll be going to prison himself if he shows his knob to anyone else who hasn't asked to look at it.

It's nice of you to send a visiting pass but I'll have to get a passport before I come and see you. I have been abroad before but only to England and I didn't like that much. I'll have to raise some money to pay for the flight too! But that may not be as much of a problem as I thought. One of the hippies was over yesterday and he offered me £150 a week to rent one of our old feed-stores. He said there were too many prying eyes up at the Alternative Energy Centre and he needs somewhere quiet to grow weed. He may be up to something though, because everyone knows that you can't make money from weeds. Otherwise they'd be crops, wouldn't they? Still, if he wants to give me money to grow thistles I'm not going to turn him down.

So I may see you sooner than we think,

Hwyl Fawr,


Letter Five

On raiding the bed and breakfast, police discovered a fifth letter wrapped around a small sliver of what appeared to be a human shin-bone. Inside the letter detectives also found a locker key. Investigations showed that the key was specific to Cardiff International Airport. The age of the bone was impossible to verify as it had been boiled in battery acid, but forensic examiners reported that it showed traces of having been gnawed by "an animal significantly larger than a rat."

Dear Pal,

Tom seems to like it in prison.

In answer to your question - No, I didn't know you were imprisoned for murder. But I suppose being a serial killer does show dedication. Anyway, I'm glad your new cell-mate is friendly. Bear is a funny name, isn't it? I shouldn't worry about him getting into your bunk all the time, just ask the governor for some extra blankets - he's probably just cold.

There's not been much going on in Machynlleth to report. I had to hire some help with the shearing because Tom's been locked up for a month. He showed his arse to a primary school assembly. We should be grateful for small mercies because the judge said that if he'd turned around and shown them anything else he'd have given him ten years. Anyway, there's no need to be jealous because the shearer was Australian and we couldn't even communicate because he doesn't seem to be able to speak Welsh or English.

We've had a few more visitors at the farm this week because there's an election soon. I don't know anything about politics really but I know that there are only two parties in America. Well, that's something we do bigger than you guys because there are four here. There's the Labour party, which is a party for privately educated people who like to pretend to be poor. And then there's the Conservative Party, which is for privately educated people who like to pretend that the poor don't exist. Dad always votes Plaid Cymru, which is a party for people who prefer to be lied to in Welsh. But I'll probably vote Liberal Democrat because they wear the nicest sweaters.

But I'm not really thinking about the election much because I've bought the plane ticket now, so I'll be seeing you soon. Can't wait.

Hwyl Fawr,


Letter Six

Inside the locker at Cardiff International Airport police recovered a human skull believed to be that of a female between 28- 43. It too had been de-fleshed in acid. Coiled up inside one of the eye-sockets was a sixth letter, an international flight reservation confirmation and a flyer for a motel in Virginia. The FBI confirmed that missing person Eira Wynne of Machynlleth had been engaged to a prisoner held in a maximum security prison but had fled the country on the eve of her wedding some four years previously.

I don't know why you were worried when you heard I was staying at the Shady Grove Motel, I've never felt as safe. There's a police car here nearly all the time.

Dear Pal,

It's exciting being in America at last but I was so tired after the flight that I could hardly think straight at the airport. They asked me lots of questions in immigration and they spoke so quickly that I hardly understood what they were talking about. One of them asked me if I'd ever planned to overthrow the government of the United States by violent means. What kind of question is that? I can hardly remember if we've run out of bananas if I don't make a shopping list.

Anyway, I checked into a budget motel like you suggested to save a few pennies. It's lovely, just like home only with a swimming pool which the district attorney says we can use again when they've fished out the man with the knife in his back. I can't believe it's so cheap! I've never stayed anywhere that rented rooms by the hour before - that is posh.

Anyway, I've just been kicking back and trying to relax. American television is funny, isn't it. In Wales the adverts are on in between the programmes, rather than the other way round. And there are ever such a lot of channels but none of them seem to have any sheepdog trials. I'll be ever so far behind with "Pobl y Cwm" if Tom forgets to tape it for me, or records "Sexcetera" over it like he did last time I was away.

Anyway, you're probably wondering why I'm still writing to you even though I'm only ten minutes away. It's just that I wasn't expecting you to ask me to marry you on my first visit and my head's all in a spin when I see you or hear your voice and I'm not sure I'll be able to speak. The answer's yes, I think. Do you think Bear will mind moving out of your cell when we're married? Break the news to him gently, my love, you know how fond of you he is. I'll be in to see you again as soon as they'll let me.

Hwyl Fawr until next week.


Letter Seven

The seventh letter was found wrapped in what appeared to be a wedding veil. The veil had been draped across a mirror in the Charlottesville Travel Lodge. In the same room, police discovered a corpse. Further investigation showed that the victim had attempted to fry and eat his own genitals prior to death.

Dearest Pal,

I ordered a mask like yours from QVC so that the wedding photos won't look so strange.

You'll have to forgive me writing again only they won't let me speak to you on the phone. The governor said you'd strangled a guard with the flex and then he asked me not to marry you. I told him straight that you hadn't killed anyone for ages and I could marry whoever I liked. I told him we had a constitutional right to a conjugal visit after the wedding too, like you said I should. He said it was my funeral but there was no way that he'd remove your face mask, so I suppose that means I won't be able to kiss you properly, which seems a bit unfair.

I bought a lovely white dress at JC Penney and you needn't think it's mutton dressed as lamb even if I am 36. I'm as pure as the snow Mam named me after. I never believed in sex before marriage. My parents were both only-children and in Machynlleth you're not meant to marry anyone more distantly related than cousins, so I've never been married before. If I'm honest, I'm a bit nervous because I've never had any sort of sexual experience - well, not one that involved other people. But you have such kind eyes that I'm not really worried, even if the governor did say you ate two of your last wives because that's just lawyer speak, isn't it?

I must be a bit simple thinking that they'd let me live in your cell with you but at least you'll always have Bear to keep you company. One of the guards said that he wished they still had the electric chair for you but I don't see how that would help. My Aunt Eleri had one of those and the police took it off her because she kept knocking children off the pavement with it.

Anyway, when you finish your sentence you can come and live on the farm with me and Tom - a hundred years and one day isn't for ever.

Hwyl Fawr


The corpse was identified as belonging to former death-row inmate Bubba McNichols. State officials confirmed that Bubba had been released on compassionate grounds several weeks earlier following a diagnosis of terminal idiocy. Neither US nor Welsh police found any proof that he had committed further crimes subsequent to his release, as attempts to identify the skull as belonging to missing spinster Eira Wynne using dental records were dashed when there were discovered to be no dentists in Powys.

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