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Issue: 29 May 2009
Title: Century-old mystery solved as N.B. woman ID'd in crypt in England
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Century-old mystery solved as N.B. woman ID'd in crypt in England

Last Updated: Friday, May 29, 2009 | 8:44 AM AT

Volunteers with a historic cemetery in London, England, have unearthed a nearly century-old mystery connecting Kensal Green Cemetery to a small family plot in rural New Brunswick.

For more than 90 years, a packing crate stored in a catacomb at the Kensal Green Cemetery was speculated to contain a murder victim or the remains of an aristocrat shipped from India.

It turns out the casket inside the crate holds the remains of an 18-year-old woman from Sussex, N.B.

The exaggerated theories surrounding the disintegrating packing crate ended once volunteers with the Kensal Green Cemetery took a look at the cemetery register. They found records of Gladys Winifred Fowler, a New Brunswick woman who died in a London hotel in 1917.

It appears the family was there while Fowler's father served in the military. Both her parents died shortly after.

Signe Hoffos, a volunteer with the Friends of Kensal Green Cemetery, is among those who helped solve the international mystery. Unless someone really wanted to return Fowler to New Brunswick, Hoffos said it might be best for the New Brunswicker to stay on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean.

"Unless someone wishes to have her reinterred in New Brunswick, she's perfectly welcome to rest at Kensal Green," Hoffos said.

"It would be a fair bit of palaver to get a rather hefty coffin out of the crypt in Kensal Green all the way over to the family resting place in New Brunswick."

Fowler's remains rest inside a wood coffin, sealed with lead.

Fowler should return to N.B.

Descendents of Gladys Fowler have yet to come forward perhaps because up until recently, no one even knew she was missing.

Her grave and family tombstone are at the Hammondvale Community Cemetery, just outside Sussex.

Albert Scott helps maintain the rural cemetery and he said it's only right to have Fowler's remains sent to the cemetery in southern New Brunswick.

"She should be brought back. I mean you just can't leave a â?? wouldn't be right to leave a body in a catacomb in London," Scott said.

"It would only be right for us to do that."

Scott said because Fowler's father served in the military at the time of her death, it may be Ottawa's responsibility to send her body home.