This 1971 unsolved murder goes through periodical reviews by Police, but recently, a retired cop believes that the victim, 29 year old barmaid Gloria Booth, was an early victim of Yorkshire Ripper, Peter Sutcliffe. Two aspects of the case do not convince me, which I will come to later. What is known is that on Saturday night, June 12th 1971, Gloria left the pub she worked at, the White Hart, in Yeading Lane, Northolt, at 11.30pm and was seen walking along the A40 towards a Polish War Memorial. Then it was early sunday morning, June 13th, that a newspaper delivery boy took a shortcut through South Ruislip Park that came across the virtually nude body of a young woman. He had the calmness to check for a pulse then he ran home to tell his parents. Meanwhile, a dog walker found the body and summoned Police. He made an understandable mistake in covering the body, thus contaminating any evidence gathered, to preserve some dignity.
Police checked her movements. Her estranged husband was quickly eliminated as a suspect - they were going through a divorce - as his movements were solidly alibied. A post mortem revealed that she had been strangled, but there had been no sexual assault, giving rise to some theories that not only was the killer a sexual pervert but also impotent. A shoe was found hidden under a bush but her other clothes had just been strewn about the murder scene. She had been seen alive at 12.15am and later at 1.30am. The Pathologist determined that she was dumped there after being murdered elsewhere. Traces of brick dust and oil were found on her body. Had she been murdered in a factory, or garage, or similar? Gloria had been mutilated. She was supposed to have met a barman from the Viking Pub to go to a party but the Barman did not go as he had to call a doctor for the landlord, so did not leave the Viking until at least 1.00am, putting him in the clear. Police believed the killer was local as Gloria had been dumped in the darkest part of the park
Had she been taken there in a car or carried? Police staged a reconstruction which gave them a few new leads but nothing substantial. Another possibility is that the killer made two trips; one to dump the body, the second to deposit the clothes. The case ran cold and now goes through a case review every couple of years. But what about the claim about Sutcliffe being the culprit? I do not buy it for two reasons. One, the body was covered in bite marks, and as far as is known, Sutcliffe was never a biter. Second, it is claimed that in 1971, Sutcliffe lived in Alperton, West London. And Sutcliffe worked as a mechanic at this time. That should be pretty easy to ascertain. His family would certainly know. And I have not heard anything about Sutcliffe living in West London. Again, facts that should be easy to obtain from his family, providing that they would talk about their infamous sibling. No, I am not convinced that he is responsible. But his later job as a lorry driver would take him all over the country, and I wonder how many opportunities he acted upon by sheer chance. I believe Gloria`s killer is still walking free or in a pine box in six foot of soil.
UPDATE: Reader Barry Glenister contacted me to say that the murder happened right near his parents home. He says that an unreported fact was that the contents of Gloria`s handbag were scattered amongst the bushes bordering his parents home in Walnut Way. He believes the killer left the park either by Walnut Way or Masson Avenue. He arrived there the day after the murder, not knowing what had happened and was questioned by Police. Thank you to Barry for this information.