Lyn Bryant was killed while walking the family Lurcher in Cornwall in 1998. Lyn was a local lady and was not far from her home in Ruan Lanihorne. This is another unsolved case of a lone woman walking her dog in rural UK.
The Brief Circumstances
The date was Tuesday 20th October 1998. Ms Bryant was a 40 year old mother of two. She was on a route familiar to her and was seen by local people as she went.
At about 2pm she was seen talking to a clean shaven man near the Methodist Chapel on Ruan High Roads. Opposite the chapel is a lane, narrow and with fields either side. Later her body would be found in a field gateway.
Ms Bryant had been stabbed multiple times and had by all accounts fought hard for her life. A short time later a farmer saw a man walking away from the murder scene. This was in a field without a footpath and that was unusual for anyone to take that route.
On 2nd of February 1999 Ms Bryant’s tortoise shell glasses were found where she had died. This is obviously significant because as is always the case the gateway and surrounding area had been subject to a forensic search. They had been placed all those months later by someone the police would love to talk to.
Due to the fact Ms Bryant’s clothes were re arranged the police believe there was a sexual element to the crime.
Ms Bryant’s body was apparently found by a woman travelling the lane that afternoon. This would have been relatively unusual in that like the rest of the UK by October rural areas are quieting ready for winter. The lane, as in the case of Julia Webb, is obstructed from view on both sides. Having had a look at it, if anything, this place is more remote.
Even so it is a road close to a crossroads so the offender was taking a chance on not being observed.
Police appealed for people that they wanted to speak to. There was a ‘scruffy’ looking man driving a small white van. This vehicle seemed to be a car derived version. At the time you had the like of the Ford Fiesta van, Escort van, Maestro van, Bedford HA ( like post man Pat’s) that sort of thing.
This van was at a gas station at the same time as the victim at approximately 1 pm. The reason it has been particularly noted is that it drove in but the driver did not buy gas. When Ms Bryant’s car drove out it followed. It had been seen in the area during the previous few days and was not recognised as local. Significantly it had been seen near the chapel during this time.
Extensive enquiries were made of local people and of course those who had a history of preying on lone women. Nothing produced any tangible suspect.
The Man Seen Talking to Lyn Bryant at the Chapel
Picking over the bare bones that are available I notice that no vehicle is mentioned near to the Chapel when Ms Bryant was talking to the man. Nor is any description of clothing mentioned for him. All I can see is a statement that he had no distinguishing marks.
All the older articles, those of the time, seem to have been shelved so maybe there was more detail available back then. To me the significance of this conversation so close to the murder scene is stark.
If he was walking but dressed as a hiker then you could be looking at anyone travelling from outside who would then have left the area. If they were not dressed as such then it is likely the man is local. Ms Bryant was found by the woman passer-by at about 2.30pm. So potentially there was only 30 minutes between the conversation, a short journey to the gate and the murder.
The Man in The Field
As I said above the farmer stated it was unusual to see someone walking where the man did. So was this the same guy who had been talking to Ms Bryant? Again no description of clothing. He was seen between 2.45 pm and 3pm but I can’t trace the distance so that is something the cops will know.
Timings are always a matter of conjecture anyway. The sightings will be approximate times. How often do you see someone walking and check your watch? Or see someone chatting and check the clock on your car dashboard. Later it might become significant when you hear about a dramatic event. It is at that point people try and piece their day together to guess at the time.
The gateway is recessed from the lane and it is said to have been used a lot by the farmer. There was thick mud on the ground churned up because it was accessed by a herd of cows. The lane itself is very narrow and so any vehicle stopped there would have blocked passage along the road.
Ms Bryant had defensive wounds and her clothes were muddy. Dark blue fibres were recovered from her clothing which may well have come from a polo shirt or sweat shirt worn by the offender. The stab wounds likely came from a single edged blade that was between three and five inches long.
She had been stabbed in the neck and shoulders but the fatal wound was to her chest. It was noted her glasses were missing.
When the glasses were found in February 1999 they were on top of the ground not buried under it. This confirms the police belief that the finger tip search of the scene had not missed them. Who would bring them back and why? To taunt the police? To somehow express remorse?
So they are looking for anyone who may well have been wearing dark blue, would likely be muddied and possibly bloodstained. There would be a good chance that they were acting unusually and that would have been from 2.30pm on 20th October 1998.
It does suggest strongly that someone connected with the offender must know something.
Originally I had a video of detectives making an appeal but it disappeared. The above is a brief reconstruction.
The 2018 Update on Lyn Bryant’s Murder
There is now DNA available should someone be identified. This I hope would reassure anyone who has suspicions about someone and help them step forward. Even after 20 years this family suffer and also if the offender was young back then they could still do it again.
The press nationally gave this case a huge boost in 2018. More so than Julia Webb. Probably because the announcement of the DNA gave the anniversary appeal something new to report.
If you know anything all the details you need are in the video.