It was 1943 in Worchester, England.
Four young boys were poaching on Lord Cobham’s estate in the woods looking for bird eggs and rabbits.
They happened upon an elm tree whilst out looking for bird’s nests, but instead discovered something much more macabre: a human skull, scraps of fabric, a wedding ring, and in a field nearby; severed hand.
Knowing that they were trespassing, they decided to put the skull back and keep their discovery a secret.
However, one of the younger boys eventually caved in and told his parents, who alerted the police.
The body, referred to by the name “Belladonna”, was sent to a professor at the Home Office Forensic Science Laboratory in the West Midlands, who determined that the woman had died around 18 months prior. She was estimated to have been around 35 years old, five foot tall with medium brown hair and had given birth at least once in her life.
There were no signs of trauma to the body and no signs of physical harm or disease were detected. It was ruled by the coroner that she died of asphyxiation, and was probably forced into the tree hollow just after death.
Strangely, her mouth was stuffed with the high end silk fabric, taffeta.
Towards the end of the year, graffiti began to appear. Mostly the vandalized messages were variations of “Hagley Wood Bella” and “Who put Luebella down the wych-elm?” seemingly written in the same hand.
There have been a lot of theories about the Belladonna. Some speculate that she might have been a spy selling secrets to the enemy, some say a witch, some even say it was a black magic execution on account of the severed hand.
To this day, nobody is really sure who, or even why, someone put Bella in the witch elm.