Could 1960’s Halton murder be linked to another attack?

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After police reopened an inquiry into the brutal murder of an RAF Halton aircraftwoman in the 1960s, officers are now looking into whether the attack is linked to another incident a month later.

In 2007 cold case officers at Thames Valley Police re-opened their investigation into the death of 19-year-old Rita Ellis, who was found in woods near the airbase in November 1967 after being sexually assaulted and strangled.

091112d01 BH Nostalgia Halton Murder Nov 1967 &

091112d01 BH Nostalgia Halton Murder Nov 1967 &

Detectives are now looking at whether the murder can be linked to an abduction near Little Tring in December 1967 – where a 20 year old student nurse was raped and left for dead after being struck with a blunt instrument.

Officers are currently searching newspaper archives looking for clues about the two incidents.

The Thames Valley Police dedicated crime review team was formed in 2007 to investigate unsolved murders from the past 50 years and serious sexual assaults dating back to the 1980s.

The team works closely with forensic scientists to ensure that the latest techniques, with things such as DNA evidence, can be applied to past investigations.

091112d01 BH Nostalgia Halton Murder Nov 1967 &

091112d01 BH Nostalgia Halton Murder Nov 1967 &

Detectives stress that they currently have no new information about either attack.

On November 16, 1967, five days after the murder, The Bucks Herald reported that police believed Ms Ellis had made the ‘mistake of getting into the wrong car’, while waiting to be picked up to go baby sitting for commander Roy Watson – who she had not met before.

The body of the St Mary’s RAF Hospital catering department worker was found the following day, November 12, at 10.30am.

Over the next few weeks there were numerous reports of passers-by hearing arguments in the woods and appeals for vehicles which had been seen in the vicinity.

091112d01 BH Nostalgia Halton Murder Nov 1967 &

091112d01 BH Nostalgia Halton Murder Nov 1967 &

The Bucks Herald reported that 700 vehicles were stopped and 5,000 interviews were carried out by the police.

Extra typists had to be brought in to cope with the clerical work, which was described at the time as more than the total number used for the Great Train Robbery.

On January 4, 1968, an E-fit or ‘Identikit’ image was released by police investigating the attack of a woman in Tring – which took place between 5.30-6pm on Thursday December 28, soon after she had got off the bus and started walking to meet friends along Little Tring Road.

The attacker was described as aged 25-30, five-ft 10 inches tall, of medium build, with ‘slit’ eyes and with ‘gaunt’ features such as a long thin face and hollow cheeks.

Police at the time suspected that the man thought he was leaving her for dead after striking her with a blunt instrument.

On January 4, the Bucks Herald reported that police were investigating whether the two incidents were linked.

On January 11, 1968 it was confirmed that police believed the killer of Rita Ellis and suspected Little Tring attacker could have been local – with officers suspecting they ‘lived near the border of Bucks and Herts’.

Despite extensive investigations and the case of Rita Ellis being re-opened in 2007, no one has ever been brought to justice.

As the inquiry into the Little Tring attacked progressed the victim, who can not be named for legal reasons, was praised for her bravery after she told her story anonymously at a press conference to try and stop other women going through a similar ordeal.

However, the attacker remained at large.

When asked this week by the Bucks Herald about the latest police line of enquiry, a spokesman for RAF Halton said: “It would be in appropriate for the RAF to comment as the incident falls within the civil police jurisdiction.

“The RAF will of course fully assist the police with this investigation if and when required.”