Case of the Month: Josephine Backshall

Josephine Backshall

From the BBC News

Case of the Month: Josephine Backshall (39) who was last seen at about 6pm on Tuesday October 29, 1974, when she left her home to keep an appointment in Witham, Essex, UK. She was found dead Nov 1, 1974.

Today marks the 39th anniversary of her unsolved murder. Josephine Backshall left three children: Christopher, Sarah, and Emma. Her children have appealed to the public more than once for information. It led to “good responses” from the public in 2009. In 2010, police quizzed a man but released him as well. Since then, nothing.

The body of Josephine was discovered in a field off Bury Green Lane, which leads to Bury Green. The spot was almost 35 miles away from her home. Her wristwatch had stopped at 810 pm. Jospehine had placed an ad in her local papers for part-time work in Maldon. On October 29, she received a phone call from someone she may have referred to as “Peter.” She arranged to meet him at 630pm that evening. At about 715pm, a red Ford Cortina Mk 3, believed to be hers, was seen in Collingwood Road, Witham, with the bonnet up. It is also possible she was in the company of a man at the Fountain pub in Good Easter at 1030pm.

Josephine’s body was found fully clothed and she was lying face down. Her hands were tied with a cord tightly in front of her before the killer strangled her. Detectives said that there was no evidence she had been sexually abused.

If those cords were preserved they should be analyzed with the M-Vac for touch DNA.

Richard Moulder from Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire’s Cold Case Review Unit said: “Josephine’s car was found broken into in the Collngwood Road car park in Witham. Was it you who broke into her car? There is no indication that there is any link between her murder and her car being broken into. We want to eliminate you from our enquiries and find out if you have any new information that could help with the investigation. Why was she taken almost 35 miles away to Bury Green? Did he have knowledge of the area? Did anyone see a suspicious vehicle travelling towards Bury Green?

Josephine’s husband and father of her three children, Clifford Backshall, remarried, but died about 12 years ago.

You can help Josephine Backshall by sharing this story on social media platforms that you use to make sure that Josephine is not forgotten. And, if you have information please call police at 0845 33 00 222(UK).


  1. […] Defrosting Cold Cases case of the month for November last year was the unsolved murder of Josephine Backshall in 1974, of which I was unaware until I read the blog […]