Eleven months ago we were settling into regular writing. We did an article about this awful crime which discussed a few different aspects. Here is a a brief, yet more focused, look at this crime.
Kennel Lane, Sandiway, Cheshire, UK.
Mrs Julia Webb was only 52 years old. She walked the family dog, Rosie, about 200 metres from where she lived onto a narrow rural lane. She went for her walk at 3.30pm and by 5.30 pm her son went to look for her. He found the dog wandering on the lane and the animal led him to his mother. The date was Wednesday 22nd July 1998.
The police investigation turned up a few things of interest.
The first was a man described as looking like the then pop star George Michael. This entertainer was not only very well known but had a distinctive look. It was said he was seen driving a silver Ford Orion saloon. This male was never found. He was described as about 30 years old and below average height.
The cops also wanted to talk to an older man. He was described as 50 to 60 years of age. The most distinctive thing about him was a red walking stick. The handle was observed to have a cluster design.
There was also an appeal for a red faced man who was seen crossing Dalefords Lane which runs roughly parallel to Kennel Lane.
Mrs Webb had been beaten to death with a heavy object. To this day no-one has been held accountable for the crime. This murder came at a time that several similar crimes had been committed in the South West of England. Between 1984 and 1998 four other women were killed while out in rural areas. Three of them were walking dogs at the time. One of them was beaten but all were stabbed which marks them as different from the killing of Mrs Webb. Of course Sandiway, Cheshire is 150 miles (240 km) from the nearest of that cluster of murders.
It is not impossible that this was the same killer, I am just pointing out that there are some issues to overcome if they are to be linked in anyone’s theory.
A Few Thoughts After Visiting the Area
The woods seem to have a high level of foot traffic at times and good visibility from the road for a short distance. There are lots of parking places along the nearby lane. At the end of Kennel Lane it narrows further. It does not give the impression of a place you ‘just pass through.’
The busy Chester Road runs across the northern entrance and on the other side of that is an area of well populated housing. Basically Kennel Lane is largely woodland on the west side and fields on the east side. In July, with all the foliage in full growth, I can see how the point of the attack in the woods would have been shielded from Kennel Lane.
Of course all three sightings of those different men are equal at this point in time. Having been there I would say that the sighting of most interest is the one of the red faced man. The logic I apply is that he was on foot so where would he go? This is not a very isolated spot but it is not in a city for example. He emerges onto Dalefords Lane looking as if he is in a hurry. Then later there is a massive police enquiry, widespread appeals and yet this local living man does not put his hand up.
The guy in the car could have pulled off Chester Road looking to use the bathroom and been anywhere by that night. The walker could have come from further afield and missed the appeal for him to come forward. Kennel Lane is very near a hiking trail called the Whitegate Way for example. This older man, complete with walking stick, sounds like a person on a long day hike.
This Reminds Me More Of An Oxfordshire Attack .
12th August 1995 at about 4pm. A 30 year old mother of two, Vikki Thompson, was walking her dog when she was viciously beaten. The implement was a rock. The story went that her killer, Mark Weston, was masturbating when he was seen by Mrs Thompson. As a result the attack followed. There are glaring issues with this however. When she was found her clothing had been re arranged.
Weston told this story about being caught masturbating though the state Mrs Thompson was found in three hours later seems to suggest he had targeted his victim. She died six days later in hospital of terrible brain injuries.
Why would Weston lie? All I can think of is what sounds better, a man embarrassed and panicking kills a young mother or a sexual predator kills a young mother during a sex attack? I am thinking he was trying to chip a couple of years off his sentence and possibly avoid a whole life term.
The Key To Solving Mrs Webb’s Murder Is Probably With The Missing Men
There was no suggestion that Mrs Webb had been subject of a sexual assault though the issue is there is no known motive. Did she come across a man like Weston? Did she see something else that might have prompted the attack?
The important thing, I guess, is who were these missing men who were seen at about the time Mrs Webb was killed?
A man with a look of George Michael and a silver Ford, an older man with a distinctive red wood walking stick and a red faced man who was hurrying across Dashfords Lane.
NB: I stress the visit was done with the upmost respect for Mrs Webb and her family. We hope that by adding some details it will keep the story going. We want this person caught. Below are some other crimes that are similar to this one.
In New Zealand and Australia you might find these cases interesting