There is great debate now in the UK about women’s safety. I have my own take on the way the discussion is going. Personally I think the world is in many ways a nasty place. In fairness I got my hands dirty over the years dealing with crime and criminals. It is not a view I have just developed from reading the news. There is a stark reality about humans that will not change just because we want it to. There are things we can do, but they are not popular.
Like many issues in our society, all of which are the same across the western world, we talk only about half the problem. The fact remains that no matter the protests and no matter the minor adjustments such protests might inspire, ignoring the vulnerability of victims just makes for more victims. Take this unsolved rural lane murder as an example.
The Julia Webb Murder
52 year old Ms Webb went for a walk with her dog in 1998. She lived in a place called Sandiway. This is just outside of a small town called Northwich in Cheshire. I don’t know Sandiway, but I do know the town and countryside. It has lovely lanes and incredible natural hedges. It has one of the best woodlands that I have experienced. It is a well thought of place that is home to many sports and pop stars.
The British countryside is more compact than the USA and Canada. Ms Webb was walking on a lane flanked by woodland on one side and fields on the other. Our woods are normally quite small, this area is only about 600 metres at its longest point. You are seldom far from other people and roads.
Ms Webb went out at about 3pm on 22nd July 1998. She was walking on a road, but it is a narrow one with the view obstructed from either side. This lady was attacked and beaten with a heavy implement.
At about 5.30 pm her 26 year old son became alarmed and went to look for his mother. He found her dog and the dog led him to the murder scene.
In this case Ms Webb would have seen few people and in turn any offender would have only been seen by an outside chance. However, from an attackers point of view the chance of someone ambling along at anytime has to be a constant issue. We have smaller woodland and the lanes can be very quiet, but we have a dense population too. I counted four people in the Google Map images on one stretch of the lane and that was during the winter.
Ms Webb was in an area a short distance off Kennel Lane. There was no obvious motive discovered for her murder. In one article her husband said that she was a passive lady and the only thing that he could think of was that maybe their dog upset someone and things escalated from there.
A man in his 30s with a beard was seen driving a silver Ford Orion car at the time Ms Webb was on Kennel Lane. I saw another report that described this guy as looking a bit like George Michael. There was also a man in his 50s or 60s seen about. He had a distinctive red walking stick. It was described to police and was so special they could not find another that the witness agreed was similar. The handle was said to be an interlocking cluster design. Finally a red faced man was seen running across Dalefords Lane at about that time. This lane runs parallel to Kennel Lane but a field’s distance away.
There are some very confusing reports about this poor lady’s killing. I expect that online but the confusion appears to be in local and national media. The year seems to be the problem with both 1998 and 2005 being mentioned. The bulk seem to say it was 1998.
The substance of the reports are the same and the men seen do not appear to have come forward. Police believe it likely the offender is a local. Given the fact that Kennel Lane is a very narrow road and does not run between major points I can see why they think that.
There is always a possibility, however, that someone targeted the area having only visited it by chance in the past.
Sometimes The Motive is Just to Kill
I find that motive is a thing we can often get overly hung up on. I recently watched a YouTube documentary by Crime Beat TV. The film is titled ‘ For No Reason’. It tells of a Vancover, Canada double murder. A horrific attack by a man not connected to the couple in their 60s who became his victims.
The motive appears to have been a random desire to kill. If it had not been for CCTV from various sources tracking the killer it is possible it would have remained unsolved. A side note here is the killer had been given a name that did seem to place him on a road to nowhere. Rocky Rambo Wei Nam Kam.
Ms Webb could well have fallen foul of some ill tempered local in the woods. That said hunting humans is a real thing. Later the captured murderer might well come up with a plausible reason for their crimes. Sometimes they seem to be helped by psychologists employed to see if they are fit for trial. You will have seen the defences put to courts later. Maybe the offender’s abuse as a child is blamed. Maybe it is during these sessions that the offender comes up with a weak defence of intended theft or similar. What is better put to the court when it comes to sentencing and later consideration for release? An overwhelming desire to kill or an ill judged attempt at theft that went ‘wrong.’
My rambling point is that to give a reason for violence based on a crime is easier to support when applying for parole. There is always a motive for murder and sometimes it would make no sense to us. If I am right it makes it all the harder to protect ourselves. Imagine a belief that as we step out into the street there is as much of a chance of being murdered at anytime for little reason than for a specific reason.
We might be able to avoid carrying valuables. We might place our defence in avoiding confrontation. We all have our way of getting through the day when out and about. There is nothing we can do to anticipate an attack by someone who just wants the thrill of killing.
I stress I have no information to suggest that is the case here. It is just something that seems to come up time and time again. No clear motive. Maybe the motive is actually right there but to our none killer minds it makes no sense.
If you hear a whisper about this lousy crime police are still looking for the killer of Julia Webb. You can call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.
NB: This awful murder led me on a trail of similar cases. Unfortunately there are quite a few:
All these women ( Ms Bushell was a child) were murdered while out walking alone. All except Mrs Morgan had a dog with them.