Friday, 28 February 2014

The murder of Joan Harrison

This murder was originally thought of as being one of the series of murders committed by the Peter Sutcliffe.  Yes, it was, was the verdict of some, no, it was not, was the verdict of others.  It ran undetected until officially in 2011.  After the arrest of Sutcliffe in the beginning of 1981, he was eliminated as a suspect, then the man who sent the hoax tape and letters, John Humble, was eliminated as a suspect.  then a confession from a dying man led Police to finally close the case after more than thirty years.  DNA analysis proved that the killer of Joan was convicted sex offender Christopher Smith.  What is the history of this case?

    It was in Preston, Lancashire, in November 1975, that 26 year old Joan Harrison, a mother of two, who had drink & drug problems, went into Preston town centre for a late night drink, then vanished.  She was found dead in a disused garage.  She had been raped and savagely beaten.  A bite mark had been left on her left breast.  Her jewelry had been taken.  What was strange was that her clothes and in particular, her boots, had been placed in what seemed like a ritualistic pose.  The Police investigation was huge.  A big team of 80 detectives questioned almost 100,000 people, taken more than 6,000 statements and saliva samples.  However, this did not bring the killer to justice.  Three years later, letters were received by Police pertaining to be from the killer, claiming credit for it.  The enquiry ran cold for many years.  In 2008, a man had been arrested for drink driving and was routinely swabbed.  He died six days later of lung cancer, but before he died, he spoke of a murder in Preston in 1975, asking for forgiveness.  He wrote out a note, which was found in his Leeds home.  It was not until 2011 that forensic tests proved that the DNA of thief & sex attacker, Christopher Smith was the man who murdered Joan Harrison.  CPS officials stated that if Smith had lived, they would have charged him with murder.  Finally, after 36 years, Police were able to close the case.