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CRIME CHRONICLES: The unsolved murder of Jean Townsend

 Published on: 7th February 2022   |   By: Bryn Holmes   |   Category: Uncategorized

This month’s Crime Chronicle tells the tale of a dark and murky tale of an unsolved killing that, along with several others, led to a route in Ruislip becoming known as the area’s ‘Murder Mile’.

Jean Townsend was a 21-year-old resident of the area who worked in the West End theatre as a costumier. But on the morning of September 15, 1954, she was found dead on top of wasteland near Angus Drive.

According to a later autopsy, she had been strangled with her own scarf. What was interesting however, was that aside from the signs of asphyxiation, there were no signs of a struggle.

Local suspicion began to fall on the American airmen who had been staying at the nearby South Ruislip Air Station. This intensified after another local woman, Jacqueline Cliff, told reporters at the time she had been approached repeatedly by an American-sounding man with a high forehead.

Another young woman, Joan Gala, also stated she had been accosted by a man with a high forehead on the Saturday before the murder.

Several cases were linked to the killing, including that of Ellen Carlin, who had been murdered in London earlier that month, and had been seen in the company of a US airman. Several similar murders in West Germany were also investigated.

Though the case remains unsolved to this date, multiple attempts to identify the attacker have been made in the years since. The most recent was in 2019, when academic Dr Fred Vermorel concluded in his study that a petty criminal of the time, Brinsley McDowall, was the culprit.

Photo Credit: Sunil060902

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