I have made mention in another case of the apparent 1990s spike in home invasion murders where the victim was a female. In the cases of Janet Brown, Carolann (Carolyn) Jackson and Jaqueline Palmer-Radford the circumstances do vary but all are 1990s cases. What is the same is they are unsolved even to this day. Such, sadly, is the case of Julie Pacey from 1994.
The Brief Circumstances of the Murder of Julie Pacey.
We start in Grantham, Lincolnshire, UK. The date was Monday 26th September 1994. This 38 year old housewife and volunteer nursery worker was found raped and strangled in the bathroom of her home. Mrs Pacey shared the four bedroomed house in Longcliffe Rd with her husband, daughter and son.
On that day she had been at her volunteer job between 10 am and 2pm. She then went to see her parents who lived a couple of miles away before she went shopping in the town. She arrived back at her house at about 2.45 pm. There were witnesses that said they saw her driving back towards her home at around 3.20 pm. No-one knows where she had been on that occasion. At around the same time she was passing a stationary taxi. A man stepped out almost into her path. Mrs Pacey applied the brakes and the witness said Mrs Pacey seemed to wave as if in apology for almost hitting the man. She drove off and the car was then seen indicating back into Longcliffe Rd towards where the family home was located.
The man continued to walk away before turning and running back in the direction Mrs Pacey had driven.
At 4.15 pm Mrs Pacey’s 14 year old daughter returned home. Her mother’s car was in the driveway. She called out and after getting no response she checked upstairs. Her mother was collapsed in the bathroom in a state of undress. The emergency services were called and it was discovered that Mrs Pacey had been strangled with a ligature. This was later determined to be electrical flex or something similar. This item was never found.
Her handbag was on her bed and the uniform she wore for work was hanging in the bathroom. It looked as if she had grabbed a coffee and chocolate bar and gone upstairs. There were signs she had been getting changed and adjusting her makeup, either putting more on or taking it off.
The area was canvassed for witnesses and a finger tip search was conducted for the murder weapon. During this time a story emerged that pointed towards a man who looked like this:
Mrs Pacey was killed on a Monday. On the previous Friday at about 3.30pm she had been vacuuming upstairs when she heard a knock on the door. Thinking it was a neighbour’s child she was to mind for a while she called down and told the caller to come in.
When she looked down a man, looking like the picture, was standing in her house. He asked for directions to a nearby street. As he left he passed the child Mrs Pacey was to look after. Later the child confirmed the image.
This description also tallied with the man seen running back from the taxi after he was almost struck by Mrs Pacey in her car. The same man had been seen the day before in the area asking for directions to an industrial estate some distance from Grantham. He had also been seen twice the day after the murder a little distance from the scene and later in Grantham. On the second occasion a witness said he had been acting strangely, he was crowding a shop assistant. This man has never been traced.
There seems to be some confusion regarding the car or cars that Mrs Pacey had access to. In the original accounts there were witnesses that said they had seen Mrs Pacey driving her dark blue Audi saloon often as you would expect. Also there were witnesses that said they were sure they had also seen her driving a dark blue BMW 5 series the week before her death. The issue is the family stated there was no dark BMW 5 series. A dark BMW had been seen parked next to Mrs Pacey’s Audi in her drive and later seen driving along Longcliffe Rd at high speed at about the time she was killed.
In 2015 it was announced that due to improved techniques a DNA sample of the potential offender was now available to the police. Unfortunately to this day it does not match any in the database.
The obvious suspect, Mr Pacey, was at a plumbing job on the other side of Grantham at the time and has been eliminated from the enquiry almost from the very beginning.
Well sadly as in the cases I mentioned at the beginning of this article there is very little to go on. It seems that until this guy in the dungarees is identified little progress can be made. That it has a lot to do with him is of little doubt to me.
Any single witness account will be treated by me with uncertainty. Not suspicion or any ill thought but I have been a witness in the legal sense many times and I have got it wrong. It is easy to do. Our minds hate gaps, meaningless details become important after the fact and sometimes the high drama of the situation clouds recollection. However, this man was seen by multiple people in multiple places during this time. None had time or the connections to feed off each other. Of course he could be innocent.
There was a lot of construction work going on in the area at the time. He was dressed for that sort of work and maybe his manner was a bit strange. I mean if I was after directions and called at a house AND was told to ‘come in’ I would know not to step in. I might put my head around the door but I would figure the invitation was meant for someone expected. I would not crowd a shop assistant or run back after someone who had almost hit me with their car. Not everyone is like that.
All that said though we have him in the house on the Friday and at almost the same time taking off after Mrs Pacey at about the same time on the Monday. By the description of events on the Friday Mrs Pacey may have been in the habit of leaving her front door unlocked and this guy would know it.
So I would go with the opportunistic scumbag rapist theory if pushed to give an opinion.
BUT What about this issue with the cars?
I have never heard of a case of a mysterious car being driven into and around the area in which a victim lived like the tale told here. People who are in the drugs game or stealing cars etc yes, but not in a case with a family like this.
Yet in the original 1994 Crimewatch programme the senior officer was confident that the information was good. In the reconstruction a lady who said she knew Mrs Pacey and who had definitely seen her in a BMW 5 series before was driving behind this BMW on that day. It slowed and indicated and pulled into Mrs Pacey’s drive. She also says Mrs Pacey’s car was already there. Crucially this was at just before 3pm. Mrs Pacey drove a dark blue Audi 80 while the BMW was described as blue and grey on one occasion.
The later sighting that saw Mrs Pacey almost hit the man by the taxi was in Hinchcliffe Rd, 160 metres from her home. The witness was there visiting a friend so it appears she did not know Mrs Pacey. I assume that it was decided it was her as the car and the description of the driver fitted the victim.
A mystery or mistaken witness? I wouldn’t know. I looked at the dimensions of both of those cars from the period. They are very similar with the BMW being about as wide as the Audi but just a little longer. What if Mrs Pacey was not in Hinchcliffe Rd near the taxi? What if the witness is right that there was another car pulling into Mrs Pacey’s driveway?
Then that changes everything. Whoever pulled into Mrs Pacey’s drive in that BMW could have had over an hour at the house. It would be a person that the family did not know but given Mrs Pacey had been seen driving the car it would be someone she knew. The person of interest in the picture, dungarees and all, had never been seen in or near a vehicle.
Yet the idea that this lady would entertain visitors and on previous occasions be seen driving her visitor’s car around the neighbourhood makes no sense. No sense because she was, as I say, a lady of high standing who was not prone to creating secrets. Also if you are having a clandestine meeting in your house then late afternoon is a strange time to do it. Children can come home early, partners can knock off work early. Certainly you avoid having your visitor parking on the drive and you would not drive their car about when people are all over the place that know you.
This was bothering me so I ran this past someone who I respect and they came up with an idea. What if Mrs Pacey had been pondering buying such a car? Maybe as a surprise or in view of trying to convince the family. Buying cars was done a little different back then. You tended to get to know people who sold them through anything from Autotrader paper edition or even from cards in supermarkets. Possibly the seller lent it her on a test drive which would explain her being seen driving it 7 to 10 days before her murder. They became obsessed with her? Just a thought.
As I say the cops checked out all angles in the life of this lady and she came through the scrutiny without a bit of doubt. In the end you had a devoted mother and wife with no activities that would draw such violence to her.
Take care and maybe make sure your door is locked even in the day time.