Killer of Wisbech pensioner Una Crown still at large four years after she died in a frenzied knife attack

Una Crown whose killer is still at large

Una Crown whose killer is still at large - Credit: Archant

Four years since she died in a frenzied knife attack, the killer of a Wisbech pensioner is still at large.

Una Crown and her husband Jack.

Una Crown and her husband Jack. - Credit: Archant

Una Crown was brutally murdered in her bungalow on the outskirts of Wisbech in January 2013, before her body was set on fire. At first, the 86-year-old’s death was not believed to have been suspicious.

By the time a post mortem revealed she had been repeatedly stabbed in the chest and neck, the crime scene had become contaminated and forensic evidence almost certainly lost.

Police sealed off Magazine Lane, Wisbech, where 86 year old Una Crown has been founded murdered.

Police sealed off Magazine Lane, Wisbech, where 86 year old Una Crown has been founded murdered. - Credit: Archant

Retired postmisstress Mrs Crown’s body was discovered in her home in Magazine Lane, near the Elgood’s Brewery on the outskirts of Wisbech, on January 13, 2013.

Detectives have made a number of arrests since then. But no-one has so far been charged with her killing.

Flashback: PC Daniel Gardner fixing puts up a poster appealing for help to catch Una's killer

Flashback: PC Daniel Gardner fixing puts up a poster appealing for help to catch Una's killer - Credit: Archant


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Today (Friday), on the anniversary of her body being found, officers insist that the inquiry remains live.

“The investigation work over the last 12 months has concentrated on improved forensic techniques and the re-examination of exhibits,” said a spokesman for Cambridgeshire police.

Posters appealing for information about the murder of Una Crown were put up in Wisbech.

Posters appealing for information about the murder of Una Crown were put up in Wisbech. - Credit: Archant

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“This investigation remains an active undetected murder enquiry and anyone with information is asked to contact police on 101 or Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555 111 or via their online reporting system at www.crimestoppers-uk.org.”

Police and paramedics believed the retired postmistress’s death was accidental for the first 48 hours after her body was discovered.

A mobile police station was used as operaration control.

A mobile police station was used as operaration control. - Credit: Archant

Officers thought she may have suffered a heart attack after a tea towel caught fire on a cooker.

Coroner William Morris later told an inquest into Mrs Crown’s death in March 2012 that police “too readily dismissed” foul play or circumstances.”

Judy and John Payne appealed for information in a police video in July 2013.

Judy and John Payne appealed for information in a police video in July 2013. - Credit: Archant

Despite an appeal on the BBC’s Crimewatch programme and re-opening of the investigation with fresh teams of officers, it remains unsolved.

Anyone with information should call police on 101.

Timeline

Friday, January 11, 2013

Una Crown is last seen alive.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

She speaks to a friend on the telephone at around 5pm.

January 13, 2013

Mrs Crown’s burned body is discovered in her bungalow by a relative, when he calls round to collect her for an outing. Police and paramedics believe she has died of a heart attack after a towel caught fire on a cooker. Her home is not treated as a crime scene.

January 17, 2013

Home Office Pathologist Nat Carey carries out a post mortem and concludes her death is “clearly homicide”. Mrs Crown has stab wounds to her chest and neck and lack of smoke in her lungs means she was dead before her body was set alight.

Police launch a murder inquiry. But by now the scene has been contaminated by people coming and going, meaning forensic evidence has been lost.

January 29, 2013

Detectives say they are looking for three men seen in Magazine Lane between 11.30pm and 11.45pm on the night before Mrs Crown’s body was discovered.

January 30, 2013

Mrs Crown’s family pay tribute and appeal for anyone with information to come forward. Niece Judy Payne says: “We are all shocked and deeply saddened by Aunty Una’s death and cannot understand why anyone would want to hurt her.”

January 31, 2013

Police arrest a 58-year-old man on suspicion of murder. He is questioned before being bailed. He is later told he will not be charged.

February 25, 2013

Mintlynn Crematorium, near King’s Lynn, is packed for Mrs Crown’s funeral. Priest the Rev Ryk Parkinson said her life had been 86 years of good, which had been brought to an end by a single act of barbarity.

April 4, 2013

Mrs Crown’s bungalow is burgled.

April, 9, 2013

A 29-year-old factory worker admits stealing a flat-screen television, music centre and portable TV, when he appears before King’s Lynn magistrates. He is later jailed for 10 months.

April 29, 2013

The BBC’s Crimewatch programme features the case. Detectives say they have received a number of interesting calls.

January, 2014

On the first anniversary of her killing, Cambridgeshire police admit key evidence may have been destroyed in the days after Mrs Crown’s body was found. Her family say they feel let down.

May, 2014

The force re-launches the investigation with a fresh team of detectives, who carry out high-profile house-to-house inquiries and set up a mobile police station in Magazine Lane.

June 2014

Police arrest a 36-year-old man from Wisbech and a 40-year-old man from March. Both are questioned, before being released on bail. They are later told they will not be charged.

November 2014

Police arrest a 44-year-old man from Wisbech over the killing. He is questioned, bailed and re-bailed but never charged.

March, 2015

A coroner heavily criticises police for their initial handling of the investigation. Recording a verdict of unlawful killing, William Morris says: “The bungalow was not treated as a full crime scene immediately so that a proper forensic examination could be carried out. Instead her body was removed, police failed to preserve the scene, family were allowed access to the property to clear up, evidence was lost.”

January, 2016

On the third anniversary of her death, the detective now leading the investigation said he believes the answer lies within the local community.

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