Elsie Frost: Major re-investigation launched into 50 year-old-murder (2 Oct 2015)

Elsie _c _1963_2Detectives investigating the 50-year-old murder of a Wakefield schoolgirl have uncovered new lines of enquiry as part of a major re-investigation of the case.

Officers investigating the 1965 murder of 14-year-old Elsie Frost are appealing for information to identify a previously unknown man in a white coat on a bicycle who was seen near the murder scene on the afternoon she died.

West Yorkshire Police's Homicide and Major Enquiry Team are making the appeal as part of a first ever full re-investigation of the murder of Wakefield teenager Elsie Frost who was murdered on a towpath near the Calder and Hebble Canal in October 1965.

Officers now believe Elsie may also have been meeting someone in secret, possibly a boyfriend, in the weeks leading up to her death and are appealing for anyone who can identify that person to contact them.

The force is also issuing a new picture of the popular teenager and a map showing her final movements as part of new efforts to seek justice for her and her family.

"Elsie's death may be many decades ago but the pain of her loss remains as fresh as ever for her brother Colin and sister Anne," said Detective Chief Inspector Elizabeth Belton, who is leading the reinvestigation. "Her brutal murder shattered their family and with such a significant anniversary near, I would ask anyone who may not have come forwards then, for whatever reason, to do so now and provide them with answers."

Horbury _lagoon _mapElsie (14) was attacked on the afternoon of October 9th 1965 as she made her way home on a towpath next to the Calder and Hebble Canal in Wakefield.

It is thought she had been watching friends sail on what is now Horbury Lagoon and decided to leave at around 3.50pm, making a different way home to those she was with.

While entering a railway tunnel just off the canal towpath (which now leads onto Monckton Road) she was attacked from behind and stabbed in the back and twice in the head.

A knife blow also pierced a hand which officers believe she had put up behind her head to defend herself.

Her body was later found at the bottom of the 'ABC' railway service steps by a dog walker at about 4.15pm, with a post mortem confirming she had suffered stab wounds to her head and body and died of shock and blood loss.

Local Wakefield Police and the Metropolitan Police, who were asked to assist in the case, mounted a major investigation and interviewed hundreds of residents but her killer was never caught.

Cold case detectives from West Yorkshire have reviewed the case in the past to see if there was any fresh evidence, but have never mounted a full scale re-investigation until now.

The new investigation has, in part, been made possible by the recruitment of new civillian investigators into the Major Investigation Review Team which reviews historic cases.

The team is making use of the extra capacity provided by the investigators (many of whom are retired detectives) to fully re-examine documents from the time for possible new leads and interview interested parties.

DCI Belton said: "The re-investigation has been progressing well and we have uncovered new lines of enquiry. We now believe at least one person, who was never interviewed at the time, was seen near the location where Elise was murdered on the canal towpath on that afternoon on October 9.

"He was described as white 25 - 30 years old riding a black bike with a basket on the front and wearing a white lab type coat possibly of the style then worn by someone who could have been a delivery boy, butcher or abattoir worker. Clearly we are keen to identify that individual.

"Enquiries also suggest that when staying at a friends a couple of weeks before the murder, Elsie got dressed up and went out, possibly to meet someone. Was that person you or does anyone who know it was? If you have any information please contact us."

She added: "The force has recently increased resources for the investigation of historic cases and we are determined to do what we can to try and find justice for families, such as Elsie's, who want to see guilty parties identified and brought to justice.

"Elsie's murder may be nearly 50 years old but it is a crime people in Wakefield have never stopped talking about. I would ask anyone who can assist us to contact the Major Investigation Review Team on 101 or to contact the independent Crimestoppers charity, anonymously, on 0800 555 111."

The West Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner, Mark Burns-Williamson, said:

"This was a very tragic case and I hope this appeal can help bring some new information and closure to Elsie's family who still feel the pain of losing a loved one 50 years after her death.

"It is important that no murder investigation is closed until someone is brought to justice or the killer identified and that is why earlier this year I announced over £1.5m worth of funding in setting up a specialist team of civilian experts to help crack historical unsolved murder and rape cases given the tremendous advances in forensic and scientific investigation processes.

"This investment gives West Yorkshire Police the additional resources needed to focus on so-called 'cold' cases, whilst at the same time making sure adequate capacity is in place to fully investigate serious current cases."


Who was Elsie:

Elsie lived on Manor Haigh Road in Wakefield.  She was part of a loving family and had a younger brother Colin and an older sister, Anne.

Speaking about Elsie, Anne Cleave, her sister, said: "'When Elsie and I played schools, she liked to be the teacher; when we played hospitals, she was the nurse and I was the patient - even though I was four years older than she was. She was often very funny because if she couldn't make me better with our standard treatment - using a pencil as a magic wand - she would resort to just 'kissing me better'. I think it was her caring nature and that came out in the way she looked after our little brother, Colin while mum was at work after I left home to get married.

We were both keen readers and mum would stand at the bottom of the stairs calling us but we were so involved in our books we often didn't hear her until she came upstairs and into the bedroom. We went through the church hymn book marking up our favourite hymns and at one point we couldn't agree so we ended up using a pencil to mark Elsie's favourites and a biro to mark mine. I still have that hymn book.'

Below are some images taken by investigators in 1965 which show what is now Horbury Lagoon, a factory Elsie would have walked by, and the scene of the murder.

Elsie _frost _1965_soco _shot _3 Elsie _frost _1965_soco _shot _2_0
Abc _steps _0 Elsie _frost _1965_soco _shot _4
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