SOLVED - THE LAST SHERLOCK HOLMES MYSTERY; Richard Green Was Locked in a [Pounds Sterling]2m Battle over Secret Conan Doyle Papers and Lived in Fear of a Mystery American. Then He Was Found Garrotted in His Flat. Now Our Special Investigation Reveals the Truth about Green - and How He Died

The Mail on Sunday (London, England), December 12, 2004 | Go to article overview

SOLVED - THE LAST SHERLOCK HOLMES MYSTERY; Richard Green Was Locked in a [Pounds Sterling]2m Battle over Secret Conan Doyle Papers and Lived in Fear of a Mystery American. Then He Was Found Garrotted in His Flat. Now Our Special Investigation Reveals the Truth about Green - and How He Died


Byline: SHARON CHURCHER;ADAM LUCK

Richard Lancelyn Green was certain he was being watched. Bugs had been installed in his London flat, he told his friends, and any sensitive conversations were to be conducted in the garden. Further, when he left a restaurant he claimed he was being followed by a mysterious dark car.

Green, the world's leading expert on Sherlock Holmes and his creator, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, also warned his family that he was under threat from a relentless enemy, a shadowy American.

And then, on March 26 this year, his worried sister called him at his home in Kensington, West London, and got no answer.

The next morning she alerted the police, who broke open his locked front door and found the millionaire bachelor lying in his bed amid a clutter of cuddly toys and Sherlock Holmes posters and books.

Wrapped around his neck was a black shoelace. It had been tightened with a wooden spoon until it had garrotted him. Green's outstretched hand appeared to have been trying to reach a nearby halfempty gin bottle as the noose tightened on him.

Was he perhaps hoping to use the bottle as a weapon against an assailant?

Although the police made only a cursory investigation, assuming that he had killed himself, friends and relatives believed he had been murdered.

There was no suicide note, no medical evidence of mental illness, nor, according to the post-mortem examination, was it likely that Green had asphyxiated himself with the garrotte.

In the rare cases - there has been only one in the past 30 years - when someone has been desperate enough to take their life this way, they have used cloth under the garrotte to lessen the excruciating pain.

At the inquest, moreover, witnesses said they suspected his demise might be connected to the internecine feuds surrounding the literary archives of Conan Doyle, and the pivotal role that Green had hinted 'the American' played in them.

After years of wrangling between the author's heirs, a group of them were planning to auction some of his papers at Christie's. Infuriated that the [pounds sterling]2million archive might be dispersed among American collectors, Green was determined to block the auction. But he said he felt threatened by 'someone in America' who he claimed was trying to hunt him down.

Though there were no signs of a break-in at Green's house, the coroner, Dr Paul Knapman, rec orded an open verdict, saying he could not determine the cause of this 'very unusual death'.

He expressed surprise that the police had not conducted a more thorough investigation.

So who was the mystery American?

We have discovered that he is Jon L. Lellenberg, a 58-year-old director of top-secret counter-terrorism operations at the Pentagon, where he works for the American Defence Secretary, Donald Rumsfeld.

Lellenberg's role involves working with special forces, including the Navy Seals, the American counterpart of the SBS.

He is also an authority on Sherlock Holmes, having written a biography of Conan Doyle, contributed to Holmes anthologies and advised the Doyle heirs on copyrights and other minutiae relating to the author's literary estate.

This is the man whom Green mistakenly feared. But Lellenberg has always denied any connection with Green's death.

The world of Sherlock Holmes experts is small and devoted. As with any group of enthusiasts, sometimes trivial concerns take on a significance way out of proportion to reality; judgment becomes clouded and passions run high.

There is a marked division between those known as Doyleans, the orthodox scholars who study the work of Conan Doyle, and the Sherlockians, who often treat Holmes as if he were a real detective and never mention the author by name.

In this world, Green was a leading figure. An heir to a multi-millionpound fortune, his family seat was at Poulton Hall, Lower Bebington, on the Wirral, the Lancelyn Green residence since before the Norman Conquest. …

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SOLVED - THE LAST SHERLOCK HOLMES MYSTERY; Richard Green Was Locked in a [Pounds Sterling]2m Battle over Secret Conan Doyle Papers and Lived in Fear of a Mystery American. Then He Was Found Garrotted in His Flat. Now Our Special Investigation Reveals the Truth about Green - and How He Died
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