All of Suffolk’s unsolved murders still being investigated by police including tragic Trimley St Mary teen Victoria Hall and young Ipswich mum Karen Hales
Those of us who are used to tuning in to detective dramas or delving into a crime novel will have become used to a mystery always being solved.
Along the way, characters let important secrets slip, vital clues are discovered at just the right time and we can rest easy knowing the murderer will be led away in handcuffs before the end credits roll or the last page is turned.
But real life isn’t like an episode of Midsomer Murders.
In Suffolk alone, there are many murder cases sitting unsolved, some of which date back as far as the 1960s.
The earliest case is that of 12-year-old Linda Smith who was found dead in Polstead in January 1961.
The youngster had left her great aunt’s house in Earls Colne, Essex, on January 16 to run an errand at the newsagents - a regular trip for Linda which would usually take her around 15 minutes in total.
Despite having been seen walking down Burrows Road in the village to the newsagents and looking through its window, Linda did not enter the store.
Minutes later, she was seen crossing the road before speaking to the local cobbler. Linda was not seen alive again after this point.
On January 20, 1961, Linda’s body was found in a field around 18 miles away in Polstead, having been strangled with her school scarf.
The Metropolitan Police assisted Suffolk and Essex detectives with the investigation into the schoolgirl’s murder, with leads having been followed up in Earls Colne and the wider area, but no one was ever arrested or charged with her murder.
Six years later, on January 16 1967, the dissected body of 17-year-old Bernard Oliver was discovered in two suitcases in Tattingstone, Suffolk.
The teenager had been reported missing nine days earlier after he failed to return home to his father and five siblings in Muswell Hill, London, after going out to visit friends.
A murder investigation was launched by Suffolk Police, with help from the Met Police, and enquiries were carried out in both Suffolk and Muswell Hill.
Officers initially focused on the suitcases in the hope that they would be able to establish the origin of the cases and a laundry mark found in them and more than 2,045 statements were taken in order to try and piece together the teenager’s last moments.
The investigation continued for more than a year, during which various items were sent to the Met Police lab for testing, but no one was ever brought to justice.
Another cold case is that of Dora Pratt, who was found lying unconscious on the floor of her Ipswich home on the snowy morning of January 9, 1982, having received three heavy blows to the head.
It is believed that Dora, who ran a shop in Bulstrode Road, had been attacked during a robbery after police found that items had been taken from her home.
The 76 year old spent several weeks in hospital before going to live with a relative but succumbed to her injuries months later on July 6.
All but one of those who entered Dora’s shop on January 8 were traced and eliminated as suspects, with a man wearing steel rimmed glasses having never come forward to police.
In total, police interviewed 4,700 people in connection with the case but were not able to find Dora’s killer.
The death of 35-year-old Diane Jones in 1983 also remains shrouded in mystery almost four decades on.
Diane was last seen at around 11pm on July 23 at the front gate of her and her husband’s home in Coggeshall, Essex, after having been dropped off while her husband Dr Robert Jones parked the car. The couple had been returning home after a night at their local pub.
But Diane was not reported missing by her husband until nine days after she was last seen.
Three months after she went missing, Diane’s body was discovered in a copse alongside the A1093 in Martlesham, Suffolk. It was later ascertained that she had suffered a fractured skull.
Police in Suffolk and Essex launched a joint murder investigation but Diane’s killer is yet to be brought to justice.
In August 1984, the burning body of Edna Harvey was discovered at her Finchley Road home in Ipswich after neighbours spotted smoke coming from the door.
The 87-year-old is believed to have been murdered after confronting a burglar, who subsequently set fire to the mattress on which her body lay.
Edna had been largely confined to her home due to bad eyesight and as a result very little is known about her movements on the days leading up to her death.
Several suspects were interviewed as part of the murder investigation but no arrests were made.
Forensic tests carried out on items from Edna’s home also failed to highlight any possible leads.
On February 18, 1989, the partially decomposed body of Jeanette Kempton was discovered in a ditch beside the B1518 at Wangford, Suffolk.
The 32 year old, who lived in Brixton, London, with her ex-husband and two teenage sons, had been strangled and had no personal possessions with her when her body was discovered.
Jeanette had gone missing 16 days before she was found, having last been seen drinking at The Loughborough Hotel in Brixton with a man who was known to her.
An incident room was set up in Suffolk, with a computer link to Brixton’s police station. Despite officers having carried out enquiries in both areas and attention having been given to the case in newspapers and on television, Jeanette’s killer was never identified.
Another of Suffolk’s unsolved murders is that of Doris Shelley, who died in 1993 after having been hit on the head during a burglary at her Martlesham home.
Doris lived alone in a bungalow in the village’s Main Road which police believe was broken into at some point between 2pm on February 10 and 12.45pm on February 11, during which time the 82 year old had been hit on the head at least once with a blunt instrument.
She also had bruising which was consistent with her having been kicked or punched repeatedly.
A neighbour discovered Doris cowering in the kitchen covered in her own blood. She was in a dazed and confused state but lost consciousness shortly after she was found.
She remained unconscious until her death 11 days later at Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge.
Suffolk Police launched a murder investigation which saw detectives carry out house to house enquiries, forensic work and make numerous media appeals.
They also tried to trace the driver of a red Ford Sierra which was seen near Doris’s driveway on the last day she was seen before she was attacked. This remains an active line of enquiry for police almost 30 years on.
The 1993 murder of young mum Karen Hales, who was stabbed to death at her Ipswich home, has also gone unsolved.
On November 21, Karen’s parents had called at her home in Lavenham Road but were confronted with smoke and flames.
They discovered that Karen had been stabbed and an attempt had been made to set her body alight in front of her 18-month-old daughter.
Karen’s partner had left for work earlier in the day, leaving Karen and her daughter alone in the house.
Last year, Detective Superintendent Andy Smith, head of the Joint Norfolk and Suffolk Major Investigation Team, said officers were ‘not giving up on this investigation’.
“Although I retain a completely open mind as to who is responsible for killing Karen, I think there is a strong possibility that her attacker was known to her and that is why it is so important for us to know everything about her,” he said.
Last year marked the 20th anniversary of the murder of Victoria Hall, a 17-year-old girl who went missing after a night out in Felixstowe.
On September 18, 1999, Victoria went with a friend to Bandbox nightclub and both left the venue at around 1am to begin their walk home to Trimley St Mary.
At around 2.20am, the pair separated just yards away from Victoria’s parents’ house but the teenager never made it home.
Her parents reported her missing on the morning of Sunday, September 19 and the following Friday, her naked body was discovered by a dog walker in a ditch in Creeting St Peter.
The murder investigation led to a suspect being arrested and charged with Victoria’s murder but the trial in November 2001 saw the jury return a verdict of ‘not guilty’.
None of Victoria’s clothes or possessions have ever been found but police last year released details of the clothes and items Victoria had on her person before her death, including a red jacket,black dress and black heeled shoes.
They also released CCTV footage of a van entering the field in which Victoria’s body was found and a group of people with torches entering the field at night.
Suffolk Police are also still searching for answers around the mysterious death of 73-year-old Richard Clarke in 2009.
The pensioner was found collapsed in the driveway of his Eye home on August 22 and police believe he was the victim of an assault which left him with a fatal head injury.
The night before he was found, Richard had gone to The Horseshoes pub and left in a taxi. He stopped at a Chinese restaurant to pick up a takeaway meal and arrived home at 7.15pm.
Around 45 minutes later, a passerby saw a man, thought to be Richard, standing in the driveway holding his head. It is thought he may have sustained the injury by this time.
Questions still remain around the murders of husband and wife Peter and Sylvia Stuart, from Weybread, who were reported missing on June 3, 2016 by their daughter, who had not heard from either of her parents since May 28.
Police carried out checks at their home, where they found evidence that the couple had been disturbed at their Mill Lane house.
That evening, 75-year-old Peter Stuart’s body was discovered in woodland close to the home. He had been stabbed multiple times and was wrapped in a piece of garden material.
During the investigation, police were told the name of Ali Qazimaj, who was said to have been a carer for the Stuarts’ son-in-law’s father.
Qazimaj’s car was found by Kent Police and DNA evidence found inside linked the suspect to both Peter and Sylvia Stuart.
He was charged with the murders of the couple on July 22 and was found guilty in March 2017.
Qazimaj was sentenced to 35 years in prison for the murders.
The body of 69-year-old Sylvia, who is presumed dead, has never been found and police continue to try to trace her.
Anyone with information relating to any of the unsolved murders listed above can contact the joint Suffolk and Norfolk Unsolved Case Team on email@example.com