1. Troyhand said:

    Glasgow Herald – 19 April 1986
    Police seek link in child killings

    Detectives from all over Britain will meet at Scotland Yard on Monday in a bid to solve a string of murders and child abductions, including those of Susan Maxwell, found murdered in Staffordshire after disappearing from Coldstream in 1982, and Caroline Hogg, who vanished from Portobello in 1983 and was found murdered in Leicestershire.

    The case conference has been called by Commander Philip Corbett, head of the Yard’s C11 criminal-intelligence branch, and coordinator of “Operation Stranger,” the hunt for the killer of schoolboys Barry Lewis and Jason Swift.

    Police believe the boys were murdered by the same man, who could also have struck elsewhere.

    Detectives from at least 14 forces are expected at the Scotland Yard meeting.

    Other unsolved cases under scrutiny included Genette Tate, missing from her home in Aylesbeare, Devon, since August, 1978; Mark Tildesley, missing from his home at Wokingham, Berkshire, since June, 1984; Sarah Harper, missing since March this year when she left her home in Morley, Leeds, to buy bread at a nearby corner shop.

    Police have not ruled out the possibility that all, or some of the abductions, are linked.

    Commander Corbett called the conference after Scotland Yard and Essex police joined forces in the hunt for the killer of Barry Lewis, six, and Jason Swift, 14.

    The boys were found dead just six miles apart in the Essex countryside.

  2. Troyhand said:

    Glasgow Herald – 21 April 1986
    Scots join summit on child murders
    By Raymond Duncan

    Two Scots detectives will today join senior officers from 15 other police forces at a major conference at Scotland Yard into the grim series of child murders and abductions in recent years.

    The crimes include the unsolved murders of five-year-old Edinburgh girl Caroline Hogg in 1983 and Borders schoolgirl Susan Maxwell a year earlier.

    The conference, organised by Commander Philip Corbett, one of the Yard’s most experienced detectives, takes place less than two days after the discovery in a river of the body of 10-year-old Leeds girl Sarah Harper. She had been sexually and physically assaulted.

    Sarah, of Morley, near Leeds, was found in the River Trent near Nottingham, on Saturday, 70 miles from her home. She disappeared after going to buy bread and crisps 25 days ago.

    When her body was found her anorak, pink corduroy skirt and shoes were missing. Police cannot yet say whether she was killed before she entered the water. Several tributaries lead into Trent and inquiries now span Cheshire, Staffordshire, Leicestershire, and Derbyshire as well as Nottingham and Yorkshire.

    Police will cover the question of whether Sarah’s murder is linked to any of the others due to be discussed today, but Nottinghamshire’s deputy chief constable, Mr Ron Hadfield, said: “We have an open mind and it is important that we don’t go down that road too early.”

    Nineteen cases will be discussed at today’s summit. The files go back to August 1978 when Genette Tate, 13, disappeared from her home in Aylesbeare, Devon.

    The others include –
    Martin Allen, 15. He was last seen at King’s Cross tube station on Guy Fawkes Day, 1979. No body had been found.

    Marion Crofts, 14. She was knocked off her bicycle near her home in Fleet, Hampshire, in June, 1981, raped and beaten to death. Her body was found about a mile from a fairground.

    Susan Maxwell, 11. She disappeared from her home in Coldstream in July, 1982. Her body was found 15 days later, dumped 200 miles away in a wood in Staffordshire.

    Caroline Hogg, five. She went missing during a visit to a fair in Portobello in July, 1983. Her body was also found days later many miles away, in a ditch near Twycross, Leicestershire.

    Colette Aram, 16. She was found strangled and sexually assaulted in Keyworth, Nottinghamshire in October, 1983.

    Mark Tildesley, seven. Police believe he was abducted on the way to a funfair near his home in Wokingham, Berkshire, in June 1984. He has not been seen again.

    Jason Swift, 14, and Barry Lewis, six, found buried six miles apart in the Essex countryside last year. Police believe they may have been killed by the same man, a homosexual. Jason had written to his mother that he was with a fair in Southend, and police will look at any funfair connection.

    “Certainly there seems to be the possibility of funfairs being associated with other inquiries,” said Commander Corbett. But some crimes may have been the work of an “opportunist,” he added, with children being taken from near their homes or on paper rounds.

    Detective Chief Inspector Stewart Henderson, of Lothian and Borders police, travelled to London yesterday for the meeting, with a colleague. He is expected to address the conference on the inquiries into the murder of Caroline Hogg and Susan Maxwell.

    Detective Superintendent Tom Wood of the Lothian and Borders force said: “There are potential similarities between many child deaths throughout the country and clearly we are interested in being at the conference to tell people what we are doing and to get an insight into incidents in the South.”

    Hunt for sex attacker
    Police are hunting a man who assaulted two 10-year-old girls at knifepoint and told them about other attacks he claimed to have made on children. The incident happened on Saturday as the girls were walking along Clifton Road in Balsall Heath, Birmingham.

  3. Troyhand said:

    Glasgow Herald – 22 April 1986
    US-style profile on child murders

    Police seeking possible links among 20 unsolved murders and abductions, including those of two Scots girls, are considering using an American technique to compile a psychological profile of a possible mass murderer.

    Commander Philip Corbett, head of Scotland Yard’s C11 criminal intelligence branch, said the technique could be used if enough murders were linked.

    Detectives from 16 forces and forensic scientists met at Scotland Yard yesterday to discuss 20 cases going back eight years to August 1978 when Genette Tate, 13, disappeared from her home in Devon. The most recent is that of 10-year-old Sarah Harper whose body was found in the River Trent on Saturday.

    Mr Corbett, who called the conference, said: “It is quite possible that at the end of the day if we have enough common factors we could use the American technique.”

    Psychological profiling was used in Atlanta, Georgia, to trap a mass murderer. Police enlist the help of psychologists to build up a profile of the killer based on evidence from attacks and detective work.

    Mr Corbett said: “Social conditions in the UK are very different from those in the United States but the technique could be used in this country if there are sufficient cases to justify it.”

    So far, 11 cases, mainly involving boys, had been reviewed, he said.

    Lothian and Borders police are keeping an “open mind” on a possible link between the murder of Sarah Harper and the unsolved murders of Caroline Hogg and Susan Maxwell.

    Since Sarah’s body had been found at the weekend, Mr Hector Clark, deputy chief constable of Lothian and Borders, had spoken to investigating officers in West Yorkshire.

    A spokesman said: “There is nothing to link the Sarah Harper inquiry with the deaths of Caroline Hogg and Susan Maxwell but we are keeping an open mind at the moment. Consultations will continue.”

  4. Troyhand said:

    Serial Murderers – Art Crockett
    Pinnacle Books, Aug 1, 1990

    [Pages 412-421]
    Operation Stranger
    by Brian Marriner

    The epidemic of child abductions and sex killings has prompted police in the United Kingdom to launch “Operation Stranger”

    Susan Maxwell, a pretty 11-year-old schoolgirl, was enjoying the sunshine of a July heat wave. The freckle-faced youngster was playing near her farm home outside Coldstream, at Cornhill-On-Tweed in Northumberland. This is a part of the Scottish Borders area of Britain. Like any farmer’s daughter, Susan had been brought up strictly; and living in a remote rural area, she had been repeatedly warned never to talk to strangers, never to accept a lift in a stranger’s car.

    Yet on the evening of July 30, 1982, Susan Maxwell disappeared. It was as if she vanished off the face of the earth. Despite massive newspaper publicity, with her portrait prominently displayed everywhere, nobody came forward who had seen her or knew of her whereabouts. Her parents clung to the hope that Susan had somehow wandered off, that one day she would turn up unharmed.

    Two weeks later, senior police officers called at the farm to see Mrs. Maxwell. They brought grim news. It is perhaps the most terrible aspect of a policeman’s work, having to tell parents the stark news: “Your child is dead.”

    The stunned mother listened in disbelief as a detective told her, as gently as he could, that the badly-decomposed body of her daughter had been found 260 miles away in Uttoxeter, in Staffordshire. On August 12th, a hiker had come across the body callously dumped in a wood beside a motorway. The motive for the killing had been sex. It was every mother’s nightmare come true – a stranger came out of nowhere to snatch her child and then, after satisfying his perverted lust, killed his innocent victim. What kind of man could do such a terrible thing?

    Despite massive police investment in time and officers, no clue to the killer of Susan Maxwell was ever found. Forensic evidence uncovered during the post-mortem was of no use. The Murder Incident Room, set up by the police after any homicide, continued to function, the Murder Log being updated daily, but day by day its activities grew less urgent as the trail went cold.

    Little blonde-haired Caroline Hogg was just five years old. She was last seen alive in a “funfair” near her home in Edinburgh’s Portobello district on the evening of July 8, 1983. Witnesses turned up who had seen her being led away from the funfair by a furtive-looking stranger holding her hand. Ten days later on July 19th, her decomposed remains were found in a ditch near a layby close to Twycross in Leicestershire. It was close to a motorway. At first, police did not link the two killings, yet gradually they were forced to face the fact that they were most likely hunting the most dangerous rogue male in any society – the sexual serial killer.

    The following March, Caroline’s parents took part in a police video appeal shown on national television. For the first time, the parents were able to express their anguish publicly. It was hoped that the reconstruction of Caroline’s abduction, depicted on television by actors, would jog someone’s memory and lead to the capture of the vicious abductor-killer. Thousands of man-hours of painstaking detective work went into the hunt for the killer of Caroline Hogg. As of today, he has not been found.

    In the police video, Caroline’s father expressed his fear of the possibility of a carbon-copy killing. “You think it can never happen to you,” he said, “but it has been proved time and time again that it can, and it could once more, if this man is not caught in the near future.”

    His grim prophecy came bitterly true in March 1986. Sarah Jayne Harper, a bright 10-year-old schoolgirl who was a member of the local Salvation Army choir, was sent by her mother to run an errand to the corner shop, less than 100 yards from her modest terraced home in Brunswick Place, Morley, West Yorkshire. The date was March 26, 1986, and it was about 7:30 in the evening when Sarah went on the errand to fetch bread.

    She never completed that errand. She arrived at the shop and bought the provisions— the shopkeeper remembered serving her— but she never reached her home again. Somewhere along that short route a killer waited. He abducted Sarah— and life came to an end, both for her and, in a sense, for her mother. Despite an extensive neighborhood search by police, she was not found – nor was the loaf of bread. It could have provided vital forensic clues.

    By April 3rd, the girl’s mother appeared at an emotional press conference and tearfully told journalists that she feared her daughter was dead. In a faltering voice and staring straight into the TV camera, she said, “I just want her back— even if she’s dead. If someone would just pick up the phone and tell us where the body is . . .” She revealed that the worst torment of all was the waiting— to hear that Sarah’s body had been found. As she left the press conference, held at Leeds’ Holbeck police station, she collapsed and had to be helped by her mother and police officers to a chair.

    The body of Sarah Jayne Harper was found three and a half weeks later, on April 19th, in the swollen waters of the River Trent in Nottingham, over 70 miles away. She had been badly battered and sexually abused.

    The pattern was now becoming clear: This was a killer who snatched girls in the North of England and dumped their ravished and desecrated bodies in the Midlands. Men with occupations which took them along that route, from the Midlands to the North, men like truck-drivers, commercial travelers or taxi drivers, were among the prime suspect group. The police began the usual routine things – checking on all men with convictions for sexual molestation and all sex-offenders recently released from prison, and eliminating them from the inquiry.

    But first the ritual of burying the latest victim, Sarah Harper, had to be observed. The entire town of Morley came to a standstill when Sarah was finally laid to rest. More than 200 people crammed the tiny Salvation Army citadel in the town, with hundreds more standing outside, joining in the singing of Sarah’s favorite hymn, “Jesus Loves Me, This I Know.”

    The Morley Salvation Army leader addressed the congregation and described Sarah as having been a “friendly, motherly confident young girl.” He went: “Society must be protected— young people and the elderly must have their freedom— they must not be prisoners in their own homes.” Police stopped all traffic to allow the cortege a free route through Morley to the cemetery, where on July 1st, Sarah was laid decently to rest.

    Three police officers stood apart, watching. They were Detective Superintendent John Stainthorpe, who led the search for Sarah; Detective Chief Superintendent Tom Newton, heading the hunt for her killer, and Detective Superintendent Ron Tough of Nottinghamshire Police. They were there both to express their own private grief, and to remind the public that they were ever-vigilant, determined to see the case to an end and the killer behind bars.

    By the time of the funeral, much investigative work had already been done. Immediately police were notified of Sarah’s disappearance, Morley was sealed off by police roadblocks and hundreds of drivers were stopped and questioned. As a result of door-to-door inquiries, Detective Superintendent Stainthorpe was able to issue a description of a mystery man seen in the alley between two houses on the route Sarah would have had to take on her errand to the corner shop. The man was described as being in his twenties, 5 feet 7 inches to 5 feet 9 inches tall, of medium build with collar-length hair, and wearing a fawn casual jacket.

    Several witnesses saw him between 7:15 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Studying a map of the area made it immediately apparent that the man could have parked his car in adjoining Peel Street, then gone along the alley to Brunswick Place and stood waiting for his victim. He would then have had to snatch Sarah, take her back along the alley, and bundle her into his car. Yet nobody had seen anything, or heard a child’s desperate cry.

    The atmosphere in the town of Morley was oppressive as if a deadly, dark cloud had descended on it. One neighbor living close to the Harper family described the atmosphere as being terrible. She added: “After finding out what happened to Sarah I found myself looking at everyone, wondering whether they had done anything to the girl.” Mothers were frightened to let their children out; they had indeed become prisoners in their own homes.

    The belief that the killer must be local to Morley was to plague the investigation. Because the town is such a small, intimate place, full of back-streets and alleys, it was reasoned that the killer would have had to know the area well. This simply wasn’t true. The killer didn’t even have to know that Sarah had gone to the shop. He could have just been waiting for the first girl who happened along. Morley, it must be remembered, lies alongside a major motorway leading from the North to the South. The killer could have driven into the town from the motorway and picked his victim at random.

    Meanwhile, police had the witnesses who had seen the mystery man lurking in the alley work closely with a police artist to produce a composite sketch of the man. In early June 1986, a large plain brown envelope without a stamp was delivered to the head office of the Yorkshire Post newspaper in Leeds. Inside it was a head and shoulders portrait of a man, executed in an oil painting. On the back of the canvas was scrawled: “22nd April 1986. Portrait of Sarah Harper’s killer.” The newspaper immediately handed the painting over to West Yorkshire Police.

    After detailed examination by forensic and art experts, the police established that the painting had been done before the police sketch of the wanted man had been published in newspapers, yet it bore an uncanny likeness to him. Both men had thinning red hair, steel-rimmed spectacles, narrow lips and the same shape of nose and eyes. The eyes themselves were a significant clue. Because of the way they had been drawn art experts thought that it could well be a poor self-portrait by a tormented or tormenting killer. Painted on a good-quality cotton canvas, neither the painting nor the envelope it had arrived in bore fingerprints.

    Detective Chief Superintendent Tony Newton said of the painting: “This may well be the face of the murderer.” He said the police were treating the painting “very seriously indeed” adding, “This painting does bear a striking likeness to the man who had been drawn in our artist’s impression, and it does look as though there could be a link.” He asked anyone who recognized the man in the painting to come forward. But if the painting was indeed a clue, like all the others, it petered out into a dead end.

    At this stage in the investigation, over 200 officers had interviewed 10,144 people, had taken 1,114 statements. Yet the tremendous police effort drew a blank. And it should be noted that the inquiry into the murder of Susan Maxwell, which was still running, had led to 30,000 statements being taken, 18,000 vehicles traced, and 75,000 people interviewed. It was tremendously labor-intensive and expensive, and it produced no result. Now the police had to come to terms with what faced them.

    Almost certainly the killer of Sarah Harper did not live in or anywhere near Morley. The forensic evidence and other clues linked the three murders as being indisputably the work of one killer. Susan Maxwell, Caroline Hogg, and now Sarah Harper, had all been murdered by a fiend who struck at random. The victims had all been female, had been sexually assaulted, had been abducted in the North and their bodies dumped in the South.

    In the case of Caroline Hogg and Susan Maxwell, the link was strongest of all. Their homes had not been many miles distant, and their bodies were found less than 40 miles apart in Leicestershire and Staffordshire. In addition, both girls had vanished on a Friday night during a July heat wave. , Whoever the killer was, it was apparent that a personality profile could be easily drawn up of him. His mentality had to be that of a beast; he must have viewed the world as being his own private chicken-coop, and he was the fox. There was initially and inevitably much bureaucratic wrangling over the three murders. It was obviously inefficient to allow three separate police forces to pursue three separate inquiries. Yet which force should have overall command? The decision was eventually made to place the investigation in the hands of the deputy chief constable of the Lothian and Border Police, Hector Clark, 53. He had led the initial inquiry into the murder of the first victim.

    Clark set up the headquarters for his detective team in Wakefield, halfway between where the children had been abducted and where their bodies had been found. He had to act as liaison between six different police forces-those of Nottingham, Northumbria, Leicestershire, West Yorkshire and Staffordshire, and his own force based in Edinburgh.

    A secret meeting of top police chiefs was held at Leeds just two weeks after Clark was put in overall charge of what had now become Britain’s biggest-ever murder investigation, even though some detectives were still not sure if there was any link between the three murders.

    High on the agenda of the meeting were the murders of Caroline Hogg, Susan Maxwell and Sarah Harper. Among the officers present were Colin Sampson, Chief Constable of West Yorkshire; Charles McLachlan, the Chief Constable of Nottinghamshire, the deputy chief constables of both Lothian and Borders; and the heads of C.I.D.’s from six police forces.

    A start had been made on using a computer to collate the mass of information on the three cases, and a report was leaked to the press that the computer had identified a couple who could be linked to all three murders. Constable Clark refused to confirm this. By now the inquiry had cost well over one million pounds, and it was still February 1987. The various chief constables agreed to put pressure on the central government to meet the cost of a super-computer.

    The murder team also had to take on board other cases of missing children which might be linked to the three child- murders under investigation. Similar cases included the baffling disappearance of Genette Tate, 13, who vanished while delivering newspapers in the village of Aylesbeare, next to Exeter, in August 1978. She had apparently been knocked off her bicycle by a vehicle. The bike was found, she was not. Even today, posters bearing Genette’s photograph are still displayed in police stations throughout Britain. At one stage, more than 7,000 people turned out to help police carry out a search for the youngster’s body, but despite a nationwide hunt, Genette has never been found. Her father published a book about the case.

    There was also the case of Christopher Laverack, age 9. Christopher, who lived with his mother and stepfather at Anlaby, Hull, vanished from his home on March 9, 1984. It was a Friday night. His body was recovered two days later from a local stream. It was badly beaten and wrapped in a plastic carpet bag. Two years later – on Mother’s Day – police renewed their appeal for information about Christopher’s disappearance. The file remains open on this case, as it does on all the other cases, and it will not be closed until the killer is apprehended and convicted. By late 1987 [Actually April 1986], a “summit” meeting at Scotland Yard was called by Metropolitan Police Commander Philip Corbett, head of the Yard’s C11 Criminal Intelligence branch, and coordinator of “Operation Stranger,” the hunt for the killer of schoolboys Barry Lewis and Jason Swift. There were some links between these two cases and those of the three murdered girls. The links included a red car seen in the case of Barry Lewis, 6, from North London, whose body was found buried in a field in Essex after he went missing in September 1986. Red cars had been mentioned by witnesses in the cases of Susan Maxwell, Caroline Hogg, Sarah Harper and Genette Tate.

    The summit involved officers from 16 forces who met to discuss a total of 19 unsolved child murders. Among cases being studied were those of Martin Allen, 15, last seen at King’s Cross tube station on November 5, 1979. His body has never been found. Marion Crofts, 14, was knocked off her bicycle deliberately by a car near her home at Fleet, Hampshire, in July 1981. Her body was found about a mile from a fairground. She had been raped and beaten to death. Colette Aram, 16, was found strangled and sexually assaulted in Keyworth, Nottinghamshire, in October 1983. Mark Tildesley, 7, was abducted on his way home from a funfair near his home in Wokingham, Berkshire, in June 1984. He has not been seen again.

    Jason Swift, 14, and Barry Lewis, 6, were found buried six miles apart in the Essex countryside. Police believe that both were murdered by the same man, believed to be a homosexual child-killer. There was even discussion of a ring of pedophiles who might have been jointly responsible for both murders. Jason Swift had written to his mother to say that he was with a fair in Southend. Red cars, fairgrounds and funfairs— such clues litter these cases. Or are they just red herrings? They were to cause police a serious distraction and lead them far away. One of those fairs had been an American one touring Britain. That had to be checked out.

    British police had had their share of long and protracted nationwide hunts for sex-killers. The hunt for the Yorkshire Ripper, killer of 13 women, took five years and millions of pounds before Peter Sutcliffe was finally apprehended….

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