Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Knotty Ash Murder

A murder on a foggy December day in 1961, in which  27 year old Maureen Dutton was killed in front of her two children in her own home, has never been solved.

On the afternoon of 20th December 1961 Mrs Dutton wanted to take her two year old son to see the Christmas crib at Childwall Church, having arranged for her mother-in-law to babysit her new 22 day old baby. However heavy fog meant the trip had to be cancelled. 

When husband Brian returned to the house at 14 Thingwall Lane at 6.10pm, he found Maureen dead from stab wounds on the living room floor. A half eaten lunch was on the table and David was in some distress, having apparently witnessed the killing.

Searches around the area found no trace of a murder weapon or any immediate reports of people seen acting suspiciously. There was no motive for the killing, as nothing had been stolen and there had been no forced entry into the house or any sign of a struggle.

Despite several possible leads, no hard breakthroughs occurred. A bus conductor said an Irish woman boarded a bus near the scene of the murder and told herself she had to get out of Liverpool, muttering 'Oh my God' for the duration of the journey. 

The day before the murder, a bogus doctor seems to have called to the house of a woman who, like Mrs Dutton, had recently given birth. In yet another lead, neighbours talked of a suspicious looking young stranger in a leather jacket seen nearby. As enquiries were made over Christmas, this man was mentioned again and again. Perhaps the most bizarre twist was when detectives believed for a while that Mrs Dutton had been killed ritually by a Polynesian cult who had members in Liverpool, as a sacrifice to their God Tiki.

Four weeks and 20,000 statements after the murder, an identikit picture of the man in the leather jacket was released as he had continually been mentioned by those questioned. One woman then told how a youth similar to the one in the picture was seen vomiting nearby, not taking his hands out of his pockets, while another believed he may also have called at her house.

The killer remains uncaught to this day, as leads gradually dried up over the months and years.

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