Unsolved Murders in Suffolk

Suffolk County Flag

The county of Suffolk has a population of 761,350 and is the 32nd highest populated of 48 counties of England. So a pretty small county. According to the Suffolk police website they are looking in to 10 unsolved murders with another 4 I’ve uncovered that are not highlighted on the website. That makes 14 (I know there’s more but I haven’t dug deep enough for this piece).

Is that too many? Of course it is. One is too many. I’ve never been a policeman so it’s unfair to criticise but it does raise many questions. 

We all have opinions and can all speculate on who did what to whom and where but this article isn’t the place. It is just summarising the open cases and relaying the known facts.

The unsolved murders currently highlighted on the Suffolk police website are:- 

Linda Smith – 1961

Twelve-year-old Linda Smith, from Earls Colne in Essex, was talking to a cobbler in the main street of her village when she was last seen alive. A retired farmworker found her body in the Suffolk countryside four days later, and it was determined at the post-mortem that her own scarf had been used to strangle her. The Met, Essex and Suffolk police worked together and despite several people being interviewed no charges were ever laid.

Bernard Oliver – 1967

Oliver was a 17 year old warehouse worker from London who disappeared on January 6th 1967. 10 days later his dismembered body was found in suitcases near to Tattingstone, Ipswich. No-one has been charged over his murder but there’s been several suspects such as medical doctors Martin Reddington and John Byles, record producer and song writer Joe Meek and even Reggie Kray. 

Dora Pratt – 1982

The shopkeeper aged 76 was struck on the head three times at her Bulstrode Road premises on 9 January 1982, but didn’t succumb to her injuries until 6 July. Items having been stolen from the shop at around the time the attack took place suggests robbery was the motive for it. A major investigation was undertaken at the time with significant media attention, resulting in some 4700 people being interviewed, including a number of persons considered suspects at the time but eliminated.

Diane Jones – 1983

Jones vanished outside the house she shared with her husband in Coggeshall, Essex not long after returning from the local pub on Saturday 23 July. Her body was found with a fractured skull three months later in an area of Brightwell close to Martlesham. Suspicious that the 37-year-old victim had died at the hands of her husband, police arrested him on 14 November 1983 and again on 16 June 1990, but released him without charge both times.

Edna Harvey – 1984

Edna Harvey’s body was found in her ground-floor flat after concerned neighbours had seen smoke coming out of its front door. The 87-year-old’s killer had assaulted her before setting fire to her bed. Police thought it was likely that she had been murdered because a burglary had gone wrong.

Jeanette Kempton – 1989

32-year-old Jeanette Kempton was last seen at The Loughborough Hotel in Brixton, south London at 7.15pm on 2 February. She lived in Brixton with her family and had no connection to the area in Suffolk where her body was found on the Earl of Stradbroke’s estate, Wangford on 18 February. Her coat, one shoe, purse, some jewellery and a wreath she had bought for a funeral were missing. Jeanette had been strangled. Police had five suspects in Jeanette’s murder at one stage, including her ex-husband, but still no one has been convicted of it.

Doris Shelley – 1993

Another burglary gone wrong. Concerned for her welfare because she hadn’t answered the door to a woman attempting to deliver shopping to her, a neighbour took the decision to enter Mrs Shelley’s bungalow by breaking a lounge window. Inside, he found the 82-year-old cowering in her kitchen. A blunt instrument had been used to strike her head with considerable force, and she died in hospital ten days later, on 21 February. 

Karen Hales – 1993

21-year-old Karen Hales was stabbed and an attempt was made to set her body on fire during a vicious attack in her own home on Sunday 21 November. It seems that the killer had also stolen some items from the house. 2 people were arrested but no charges ever laid. 

Vicky Hall – 1999

Probably the most high profile of all the unsolved killings. Vicky Hal aged 17 went missing at around 2:30 am on Sunday, 19 September 1999 as she walked towards her home in Trimley St Mary after a night out in Felixstowe. Her body was found, about 25 miles away, in a stream near Creeting St Peter on Friday, 24 September 1999. In 2001, a local businessman was cleared of Vicky’s murder following a trial. At the time of writing, Friday July 30th 2021, Steve Wright has been arrested, questioned and de-arrested regarding the murder.

Richard Clarke – 2009

A couple walking past the retired thatcher’s home during the evening of 21 August noticed that there was a man (since assumed to have been Clarke) in the driveway clutching the back of his head. The following morning, another passer-by saw Clarke in the same place, and by then he had collapsed. He was pronounced dead in hospital a short time later. A forensic pathologist who examined his body believed he had been dragged to the ground and punched not long before he was seen clutching the back of his head, and police have appealed for anyone with information about the assault to get in contact with them.

The unsolved murders not featured on the Suffolk Police website are:-

Perry Wenham – 1992

Two men were charged with the murder of Perry Wenham but the judge at their trial ruled in their favour, describing the case against them as “deplorably weak”. The case rested mainly on the fact that, on the night of the murder, the men were seen with Mr Wenham in the town centre when he was still alive before being seen without him and walking away rather quickly from the lane whose church’s graveyard his stabbed body was later found in. During a police interview, one of them admitted to seeing 31-year-old Mr Wenham get punched to the ground that night, but denied hurting him himself in any way.

Amanda Duncan – 1993

Although the body of 26-year-old Amanda Duncan has never been found, police are treating her disappearance as a murder enquiry. Amanda worked as a sex worker and was last seen in the Portman Road area of Ipswich on 2 July 1993. A link has been made to Steve Wright but this has been proven to be just speculation. 

Jimoh Plunkett – 2006

The 24-year-old from London was shot in the chest in Zest nightclub in Ipswich and later pronounced dead at the town’s main hospital. In October 2008, a man who had become one of two prime suspects in the killing – fellow Londoner Errol Davis – died in very similar circumstances in another murder that hasn’t been solved.

Sudbury Bones Victim – 2020

Bones and severed legs of unknown victim found, in bin bags, in the River Stour at Sudbury, Suffolk. The deceased was a male of an athletic build, but no other details are known.

The information in this article has been sourced from various online articles and the Suffolk police website.