But the real mystery of "Bella in the Wych Elm" happened after she was found, and in fact is the reason we know her as "Bella" at all. See, someone in the area knew, if not what had happened, at least who it had happened to. Soon after the body was found, mysterious graffiti with the words Who Put Bella in the Wych Elm? started appearing in the area, and variations of the phrase have continued to sporadically pop up to this very day.
Wait, hold the shit on. Mysterious haunting phrase that keeps turning up no matter what. "Wych elm" (which is just a type of tree, but hey, witch allusions). Mental asylums. Haunting dreams.
God dammit, this is a vengeful ghosts thing, isn't it?
Pauli's Favorite Theory:
Yeah, no. The Mossop theory came from the guy's cousin like ten years after the body was found, so it should probably be taken with a sack of salt. Also, my money says that the graffiti was probably started by someone who had a fair idea about the victim's identity, but it eventually turned into a "Kilroy Was Here"-style local meme.
As for the identity of the victim, let's point the Blame Stick at the bad guys of just about everything in the era. There are theories that the woman was killed by a Nazi spy ring she learned too much about. Others say she was a Nazi herself, and ended up dead in a tree due to a terminal case of being a little-too-obvious Nazi spy in 1943 Britain. I like the latter version, because that way we might even have a solid candidate for Bella. It's this lady:
That would be Clara Bauerle, a German cabaret singer who had spent time in the area and could speak English with a convincing Birmingham dialect. According to her former lover, she was a well-connected Nazi who was recruited as a spy and set to parachute to Britain in 1941 ... only to disappear immediately afterwards. Maybe she bumped into some hostile locals or fatally messed up the landing in front of a panicked bulldog herder who opted to hide her body instead of alerting the authorities (or, for that matter, getting help). Either way, someone who saw her die -- or discovered her body before the authorities knew about her -- must've recognized her. Before the "Bella" graffiti reached its most famous form, at least one tag read: "Who put Clarabella in the wych elm?"