With forensic technology constantly improving, it's getting harder to get away with murder. But some killers have, did, or still are. Figures show there are over 1,000 unsolved murders in the UK, some going back generations. Here are some of the unsolved murders from the 1960s...
1. Elsie Frost
The killing of Elsie Frost is one of the UK’s most violent unsolved murders. On Saturday 9 October 1965, Elsie, 14, set off home on the outskirts of Wakefield from a nearby youth club sailing event. Dressed in a bright red anorak, yellow cardigan and floral skirt, Elsie walked along the canal towpath – so she didn’t get her new leather shoes muddy. But she never made it home.
As she walked through a 30ft tunnel beneath a railway embankment she was attacked. Struck from behind and stabbed – twice in the back, twice in the head and once through the hand. One of the blows pierced her heart. Fatally injured Elsie stumbled through the tunnel to the bottom of a steep flight of stone steps – known as the ABC steps as there are 26 – that led up to the main road.
That’s where she was found, dying by a local dog-walker. Others soon appeared on the scene. An ambulance was called, but Elsie was dead by the time they arrived. The hunt for the killer was national news. Elsie was intelligent, bookish, close to her family – police couldn’t establish any motive.
Officers went door-to-door, interviewed 12,000 men and teenage boys – but her killer was never found. Decades past, her parents, Arthur and Edith, died without seeing justice for their daughter.
The case is still one of the UK’s most violent unsolved murders, and Elsie’s family continue to push for justice. Still, over half a century on, the killer, murder weapon and motive remain unknown.
2. Annie Walker
It was 2 April 1969, and former pub landlady, Annie Walker, 74, withdrew £1,000 from her bank in Coalville, before making her way home to Ivy Cottage, in Heather, Leicestershire, where she lived alone.
But she was found bludgeoned to death in the front room of her house. She was wearing her nightclothes and had been battered around the head with a blunt edged weapon, which was never found.
The £1,000 she’d withdrawn was gone, along with three purses. The money had disappeared by the time her body was discovered.
The case was dubbed the ‘Coronation Street Murder’ because, at the time, Annie Walker’s namesake also ran a pub in the soap opera.
Police suspected she’d been followed home from the bank, murdered for the cash. In 2005 the case was reopened in the hope DNA technology would provide the breakthrough need to finally catch her murderer. Yet, 48-years on it remains unsolved.
3. Dr Helen Davidson
On the afternoon of 9 November 1966, Dr Helen Davidson set out for Hodgemoor Wood to walk her dog and do a spot of bird watching.
Only, her body was found by a soldier the next day, her loyal terrier lying protectively across her legs and binoculars around her neck. She had severe head injuries where she’d been been struck across the head with a 2ft 6in piece of charred wood. Her attacker the ground her head into the earth and pushed her eyes back into her skull.
Dr Davidson had no known enemies, was a kind, loving woman, beloved by her Amersham community. Police were baffled. They believed it was a random killing, thought the doctor may have spied a pair of illicit lovers, was spotted, and killed.
Detectives questioned local criminals, sex offenders, mental health patients. All had alibis. The case was wound down.
Last year, True Crime writer Monica Weller, suggested a local gardener named George Garbett killed the doctor when she stumbled across a local meeting spot in the woods for homosexuals. He’d committed suicide five years later by dousing himself in petrol and setting it alight.
Yet, the case is officially classed of one of the UK’s unsolved murders.
4. Bible John
In 1968 and 69 a serial killer nicknamed Bible John raped and murdered three women after meeting them at a Glasgow ballroom.
The killings began in February 1968, when Patricia Docker’s, 25, battered body was found in a back street. She’d been strangled with her stockings.
In August 1969, Jemima MacDonald, 32, was found dead in a derelict building. Then, two months later Helen Puttock, 29, also strangled with her stockings. All three had spent the evening before they were found murdered at Barrowlands Ballroom.
Helen’s sister, Jeannie Williams, was the only real eye witness. She’d been to Barrowlands with Helen in October 1969, and said her sister had danced with a man named ‘John’. They’d all shared a taxi home, during which ‘John’ quoted the bible – gaining him the nickname Bible John. Jeannie was dropped off first, but her sister never made it.
Police put together an e-fit of Bible John. But despite a huge murder hunt, the investigation went cold. Some crime experts believe the known movements and modus operandi of jailed serial killer Peter Tobin suggest he could be Bible John. Yet it has never been proven. The case remains Scotland’s most notorious of unsolved murders.
5. Jack the Stripper
In February 1963 the naked body of Hannah Tailford, 30, was fished from the River Thames near Hammersmith Bridge, west London. Her knickers had been stuffed down her throat. That April, a few hundred yards upstream in Chiswick, Irene Lockwood, 26, was also found dead. She was also naked.
That same month, Helen Barthelemy, 22, was found naked, dead, her body flecked with paint in a Brentford alleyway. Three months on, Mary Fleming’s naked body was found on a garage forecourt, posed in a sitting position, her legs crossed. She bore similar paint markings.
Police launched a huge manhunt, the slayings named ‘the nude murders’. All the victims were prostitutes, all had been strangled.
Then Margaret McGowan, 21, also known as Frances Brown was found in November, her paint flecked, naked body hidden under rubble in Kensington. Fellow prostitute Kim Taylor told officers she’d last seen her friend climbing in to a car with a man. She described the man, and e-fit of the suspect created.
But still, police couldn’t track down the killer, crudely nicknamed Jack the Stripper.
In February 1965 Bridget ‘Bridie’ O’Hara was found behind a shed on an Acton industrial estate. Detectives found a paint spray shop close to where she was found. They concluded it was where the bodies were stored before being dumped. But no arrest ever came, it was added to the list of unsolved murders.
The unsolved murders of prostitutes Elizabeth Figg, in 1959 and Gwynneth Rees, in 1963 have since been attributed to Jack the Stripper. Over the years there have been many theories and suspects, including a local security guard, a former champion boxer and a Metropolitan Police Detective Constable. None can be substantiated.