Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Since writing the contemporary suspense novel, VENGEANCE IS MINE, I've become interested in all things forensic and otherwise--things that would fit a suspense/mystery today, I've posted the same article on both my blogs.

Since wriPolice hope new forensic techniques can identify murderer

Date: 21 May 2008
IT WAS a brutal crime that shocked the country but has remained unsolved for a quarter of a century.

When Sheila Anderson, a 27-year-old mother of two, was found with horrific crush injuries in Edinburgh on 7 April, 1983, police launched a hunt for her killer. But with no apparent motive and little in the way of clues, the investigation ground toADVERTISEMENTa halt.

Now a fresh attempt at tracing her killer has been launched by detectives who said advances in forensic techniques had prompted them to re-examine the murder.

They said new tests on flecks of paint found on Ms Anderson's clothing could help solve the case.

Lothian and Borders Police said Ms Anderson was found dying from "horrific injuries" in Gypsy Brae, Granton, and died in hospital hours later.

Detectives also confirmed that Ronnie Wilkinson, a former officer with the force, had never been considered a suspect.

They launched an appeal for witnesses yesterday as part of a new attempt to find the killer of Ms Anderson.

Officers said they were following "several positive lines of inquiry".

Detective Inspector Steven Reed, who is leading the investigation, said he was confident the paint on the clothing would be identified, and confirmed the victim had been struck by a car.

However, he said there was no evidence to suggest she was run over repeatedly.

He said: "Minute particles of paint were found on Sheila's clothing and efforts were made to trace vehicles, witnesses and people who may have been with her in the hours before her death.

"In this tragic case we believe advances in forensic science may help us resolve some of the unanswered questions.

"This was an apparently motiveless killing and I am appealing to anyone who has information about the circumstances of Sheila's death to come forward. It was 25 years ago and I appreciate that memories might have faded."

DI Reed said people who might have felt reluctant to come forward at the time will hopefully now be willing to talk.

Inquiries at the time revealed the victim left her home in the Drylaw area about noon on 7 April.

There were various sightings of her during the day in west Granton and Leith. The final confirmed sighting was in Commercial Street, Leith, about 11:30pm.

Ms Anderson's handbag was found two days later near a car park at Longniddry Bents in East Lothian. She left two boys, aged seven and two.

DI Reed said Mr Wilkinson, a former detective sergeant who found the handbag, had been re-interviewed as a witness as part of the new investigation and had supplied a DNA sample.

The force said he had voluntarily provided a routine witness statement as part of standard practice, and had at no time been considered a suspect.

Ms Anderson's family welcomed the case being re-opened.

They said in a statement: "Sheila was a loving mother, wife, daughter and sister, and her death in such tragic and sudden circumstances was a shock to us all.

"She was taken from us at far too early an age but we still hold in our hearts the happy memories that we all shared.

"Latterly in her life she suffered personal problems. But despite that and everything she endured, Sheila maintained her wonderful sense of humour. We remember Sheila as a gentle, loving, caring woman.

"She touched the hearts of all who knew her and was much loved by us all.

"As a family, we welcome the re-investigation into her death and hope that, after many years, we will obtain the answers to the questions that we have."

Mother's last hours before she met a killer with a car

Here is a timeline of events surrounding the murder of Sheila Anderson.

Noon, 7 April, 1983 – The victim left her home in the city's Drylaw area.

Afternoon – Various sightings of Ms Anderson, including in Leith's Blue Triangle of Commercial Street, Coburg Street and North Junction Street.

7:30pm – Ms Anderson was seen in the Willie Muir pub, West Granton.

11:25pm – Two plainclothes police officers saw her outside Lindean House on Commercial Street in Leith.

11:55pm – Ms Anderson was found unconscious with multiple injuries on a track by a sea wall at Gypsy Brae, off West Shore Road in Granton, by two CB enthusiasts, who immediately called an ambulance.

Early hours, 8 April – Ms Anderson died in Western General Hospital, Edinburgh.

7am, 10 April – The victim's burgundy suede shoulder bag was found near car park No1 on the shore at Longniddry Bents on the B1348 coast road from Musselburgh to North Berwick in East Lothian.

18 May, 2008 – A Sunday newspaper claims Ronnie Wilkinson, a former Lothian and Borders Police detective sergeant, is considered a suspect in the case.

20 May, 2008 – Cold case review announced by Lothian and Borders Police.

Officers said minute particles of paint found on Ms Anderson's clothing would be subject to new forensic testing.

Detectives leading the inquiry said Mr Wilkinson had been interviewed and given a DNA sample as part of standard procedure, but he was not a suspect.

Legal issues that leave murder cases gathering dust

THERE are more than 50 unsolved murders in Scotland, with some high-profile prosecutions collapsing due to lack of evidence.

One of the most notorious cold cases is Edinburgh's infamous World's End murders.

Detectives have never closed the investigation into the murders of Helen Scott and Christine Eadie, both 17, who were beaten, raped and strangled in 1977, shortly after drinking in the World's End pub. Their killer or killers were never traced, despite unprecedented publicity.

Angus Sinclair, a convicted paedophile and killer serving a life sentence in Peterhead Prison, appeared in the High Court in Edinburgh in August and September last year, accused of the rapes and murders. However his trial collapsed after Lord Justice Clarke said the Crown had insufficient evidence to proceed.

Since 2006, the Serious Crime Review Unit of Lothian and Borders Police has also reinvestigated the 1995 murder of Robert Higgins, whose body was discovered in a quarry in West Lothian. A suspect was identified and brought to trial last year, but the jury returned a not proven verdict.

On 21 January, 1987, the naked body of Ann Ballantine, 20, was discovered, naked and bound hand and foot, in the Union Canal, 100 yards from her flat in Polwarth, Edinburgh.

Police believe she was asphyxiated by a ligature round her neck. Her killer has never been caught.

Although a suspect was named and a report submitted to the procurator-fiscal, there was not enough evidence to prosecute.

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