A lecturer and researcher at Oxford University is blasted with a shotgun and left mortally wounded in the kitchen of his home. All these years later his murder is not only unsolved, but no motive has been established.
The Brief Circumstances
10th December 1994. Dr Michael Meenaghan, 33, was at his home at 18 Monks Close, Blackbird Leys, Oxford. It was dark outside and he had the TV on loud as he was listening to the football results. It is suggested he was aware of something suspicious at the back of his house. He stepped into the kitchen and was shot through the closed window. The shotgun blast was from a distance of between six and twelve feet. Spike lived long enough to dial 999 but little was heard by the operator. He died of his injuries a short time later.
Spike was highly qualified and employed at the Sir William Dunn School on the Oxford University campus. His area of research was protein cell adhesion. It is widely stated this research was not controversial in any way.
Spike was a keen sportsman and sports fan. He had a son by a previous relationship. He was in a long distance relationship and was planning on splitting his time between Oxford and Birmingham in the near future.
The reports at the time state he had become rather security conscious in the months before his death. He had been carrying out a DIY task on his front door earlier on in the day. His windows had blankets over them rather than curtains but he was no hermit or loner. One commentator said it was more a sign of him being unwilling to put the effort in to put up curtains.
The housing estate he lived on could on occasions be quite lively. This was no cloistered Oxford don’s residence. The area was very much working class. I’m working class and to point out that the estate back then had many of the usual drug and crime issues is no slur. These days ‘middle classes’ have just as much going on in those areas. The reason I mention it is to do with one of the theories below.
The investigation was comprehensive but drew a blank. At the time of writing no-one has been identified as responsible. Neighbours heard the shot, but it was dark and cold in December so anyone moving about would have had few observers. Due to the nature of the assault little forensic evidence is of any use.
Spike was a well liked Scottish guy. He lived a life that was energetic, his main sport was volleyball, he had a mother he doted on and a son he loved. He was not ordinary in that he had dedicated his mind and effort to attain levels far above his roots. It is not right he lost his life and the person or persons responsible paid nothing for it.
A drug related mistaken identity was one. There were also complications in his private life that were looked into. The latter though was nothing out of the ordinary, but this popular and sociable academic left only so much for the cops to pursue.
I link this killing with that of 51 year old Janet Brown purely because they both worked at Oxford University and they were both killed within five months of each. Not because there is any substance to a link otherwise. The Oxford University campus employs 14,000 people when I looked it up. That is the equivalent of a small town population after all. There is no indication to suggest they ever met and their areas of research were different. That said they are both unsolved cases from that place and approximate time.
Also in links below you will find two other murders from about that time and area. It looks like there was a lot going on back then. Between 1994 when Dr Meenaghan was killed and the middle of 1997 there were a total of four murders. None are solved.