GRAFFITI on a Hagley monument that has become part of local folklore has been mysteriously changed.

The famous Who Put Bella in the Witch Elm graffiti, which has been on the Wychbury Hill obelisk for decades, now reads Hers Put Bella in the Witch Elm.

A dog walker noticed the legendary saying, which refers to the finding of a woman's body in a wych elm tree in Hagley Wood in April 1943, had been altered and believes it to be the work of Birmingham graffiti artist Hers.

The phrase Who Put Bella in the Wych Elm? began appearing in the years following the grim wartime discovery - first in the Birmingham area then Hasbury, then later since the 1970s on the monument which sits atop Wychbury Hill near Hagley.

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Despite extensive efforts, the woman has never been identified but she has become forever known as 'Bella' as a result of the graffiti which has kept the unsolved murder mystery in the public consciousness.

Over the years there has been an array of books, films, investigations, plays, songs and poems - paying tribute to the tragic young woman and examining who she might have been, how she met her death and how she came to rest in the hollow of a tree in Hagley Wood.

It has been theorised she may have been a German spy, or a victim of witchcraft - while some have speculated she was killed by gypsies who frequented the area.

One of the most recent investigations was carried out by film-maker and paranormal investigator Jayne Harris who released a documentary 'Who Put Bella in the Wych-Elm?: The Untold Secrets' in 2017.

Stourbridge News: Jayne Harris at Wychbury obelisk talking to Bob Bennett who claims to have seen a ghostly female figure vanish in the nearby woodsJayne Harris at Wychbury obelisk talking to Bob Bennett who claims to have seen a ghostly female figure vanish in the nearby woods

She was stunned to hear the graffiti had been altered and said: "It's sad to see this, and quite shocking. Although the graffiti didn't form part of the original case, having only been sprayed in the 1990s, it's still an iconic part of this location's history and instantly recognisable all over the world in connection to Bella's story. We've now lost that forever.

"I doubt whoever trespassed and did this realises the significance of what they've done and the effect it will have on those who, like me, have spent many years researching the mystery of Bella and came to respect Wychbury Hill and the memory of the woman in the elm tree."