(Eve Stratford, Lynne Weedon, Lynda Farrow)
Eve Stratford and Lynne Weedon were murdered five months apart in 1975. Thirty years later, detectives realized the DNA at the crime scenes matched the same killer. But he’s never been apprehended.
Eve Stratford was a beautiful 22-year-old model who was employed at London’s Playboy club when she died. Eve grew up in Aldershot, UK and at age 19 moved to London with her boyfriend. When she was 20, she started working at the Playboy Club, and therefore had been working there for two years before her death. Another woman who worked there said of Eve “she was the sweetest girl and had an almost innocent quality about her.” Only days before her death, Eve appeared as the centrefold in Mayfair magazine, an adult magazine which is a competitor to Playboy magazine. This constituted a breach of her Playboy contract and Eve was suspended from work at the Playboy Club.
March 18, 1975 was Eve’s last day alive. That day she had travellied around London, to Camden and Bayswater, before heading to her flat in East London. She lived with her boyfriend, a musician, and two of his bandmates. At 4pm on March 18, 1975, Eve was seen walking alone near her home. At 4:30pm, a neighbour heard calm male and female voices in Eve’s flat, followed by a loud thud noise. The neighbour was likely hearing Eve’s murder, because only an hour later, Eve’s boyfriend returned from work and found her body in their bedroom. Eve was attacked with a sharp weapon and twelve cuts to her neck. She was partially unclothed, and a nylon stocking was tied around one ankle and her hands were bound behind her back with a scarf. Semen from the killer was found on her clothing and she had been likely been raped. The term ‘likely’ is used because officers have not been able to rule out consensual sex. A blood-soaked bouquet of flowers lay next to her body. There was no sign of forced entry to her home and no weapon was ever found.
Six months later, on September 3, 1975, 16-year-old Lynne Weedon was walking home in Hounslow, London. She decided to take a short cut through as alleyway known as The Short Hedges. At this point a man hit her over the head with a blunt instrument and threw her over a fence into the grounds of an electricity sub-station. She was raped and callously left there to die. She was found alive but unconscious the next morning by a school caretaker but succumbed to her injuries a week later in hospital. She never regained consciousness.
The victim profile and crime method were so different that police never thought the two cases were connected. Eve could have been argued to live a ‘high-risk’ lifestyle due to her employment. She likely met a lot of seedy people in her employment at the Playboy Club. Police thought Eve may have known her killer because of the lack of forced entry into her flat. Lynne was a young schoolgirl, considered a ‘low-risk’ victim. The methods of murder were entirely different in the two cases. Furthermore, Lynne was not dead when her assailant left the scene. Though I guess it’s possible he thought she was dead. She died from the one blow to the head.
One detective thinks an unsolved 1979 murder may be connected to the deaths of Eve and Lynne. Lynda Farrow was a pregnant croupier who was stabbed to death in her own home in 1979. The blood-stained murder weapon was found in the kitchen. This was only three miles away from where Eve was killed, and Eve and Lynda even knew some of the same people. Detective Colin Sutton states: “I have no doubt the same man committed all three. A woman killed in her own home by having her throat slit? That is rare enough today — in the 1970s it was almost unheard of. For this to have happened twice, with identical wounds, within a few miles of each other was just too much of a coincidence. Additionally, the two victims worked in the same tight-knit world of West End clubs where I believe they came across their killer.”
I think it’s very possible that we are looking at the same killer. I did notice that Lynda’s murder differed in the following ways: no rape was comitted, palm prints were left at the scene, and the murder weapon was left at the scene. Unfortunately the physical evidence in Lynda’s case has been lost and police have not been able to definitively connect Lynda’s case to the other two.
And here’s the kicker: the police think the killer is still out there. They think he is now in his 60s or 70s and has a connection to the Hounslow area where Lynne was murdered. “My gut feeling tells me he is still out there somewhere and still nervous about a knock on his door,” said Detective Colin Sutton. According to the Metropolitan Police website: “A £40,000 reward for information leading to the identification, arrest and prosecution of the person or people responsible for the murders remains on offer.”
My thoughts: This is an interesting one. I think the killer knew Eve but not Lynne. The reason for this is Eve seems to have let him in the flat and even had a conversation with him. I also think, how would the killer have known that Eve was home alone? Eve lived with three people, but the killer decided to rape and murder her within her own home. Pretty risky move considering she lived with three men. It’s possible he knew what time the boyfriend was due to be at home. Alternatively, a stalker could have learned this information and disguised himself as a flower delivery person. The blood-soaked flowers found near Eve’s body were fresh and still in the bouquet. One source I read stated that she had bought them herself. But then I wonder what they were doing covered in blood beside her body. Would that have been intentional?
The main reason I believe that Lynne did not know the killer is becuase she was left alive. Maybe the killer wouldn’t have cared if she was alive if he was a complete stranger to her, but if the killer knew Lynne then I think there’s no way she would have been left alive. She was only struck once and by contrast Eve was stabbed twelve times.
I think Lynne’s attack may have been more random. Police say the area she was killed in was not a busy area, which may indicate the killer had a connection to the area, a reason to be there. I also think he would have known the area. He would be more comfortable killing Lynne in an outdoor area if he knew the area and knew how to escape. He could have been in the area and saw Lynne walking alone and it could have been a crime of opportunity. I think this would also explain the change in the method of killing. Eve’s killing could have been planned and he brought a knife. Lynne’s attack may have been less planned. The only description of the murder weapon is ‘blunt object’, this could have been something he picked up after he saw her walk by.
My next question is what happened to the killer? I doubt he only killed these two women. He killed two women in a five-month span! That is prolific. These attacks are brutal and ruthless. If Lynda Farrow was also his victim, this would leave a four year window for other potential murders. His DNA is not in the national database. Since 1997, DNA samples from criminals have been recorded on a national database and it is against this ever-growing record that crime-scene samples are compared. This been the killer has not been arrested in the past 20 years. Could he have died or moved abroad?