Sally Shepherd, more details

Sally ShepherdMy readers are the best. I said it before and I will keep saying it. Three readers have contacted me about the Sally Shepherd case providing more details.

The Case

Sally Shepherd was picked up somewhere in Peckham, South London, stripped naked, raped, and beaten to death at the end of 1979. She was struck on the head with a blunt instrument.

Her nude body was dumped in a builder’s yard, extremely close to a police station. The Indian takeaway she had with her was strewn around her body.

Sally had multiple broken ribs and a damaged spine. Despite being dumped so close to the police station nobody heard anything.

Unknown Suspect

In September, 1991, a 55-year-old man was arrested and questioned about the killing. He was released on bail, but no charge was ever brought.

Peter Sutcliffe

Retired police officer Chris Clark claimed in 2013 that the Yorkshire Ripper might be responsible for 17 more murders we previously didn’t link to Peter Sutcliffe. Sutcliffe was convicted in 1981 for the murders of 13 women and the attempted murders of seven more women. But now there might be 17 more.

Clark is a former intelligence officer. His reasons for thinking there are 17 more cases: Sutcliffe was a lorry driver so very familiar with London and all its routes and alleys, all attacks had a “frenzied” nature, all cases happened in cases Sutcliffe had access to or had been before.

He made regular visits to a distribution company in nearby Charlton and drove right past Peckham. We know he slept in his lorry cab or in hostels and would in all probability have been out, prowling the streets. Although the 13 murders he was convicted of took place in Yorkshire and Greater Manchester, it is inconceivable to believe he didn’t attack elsewhere.”

Sutcliffe is now imprisoned in HM Prison Frankland. Despite the newspaper articles headlines about new evidence, etc. I have not read anything about evidence such as DNA.

Reader details

The information my readers provided are memories from when they were younger. The gist is this:

All said Sally’s last walk started on Nov 30, 1979, and she was murdered on Dec 1, 1979, after 1am.

One reader lived near the Acorn Estate which was adjacent to Staffordshire street. That was where Sally was beaten, raped, and murdered. Another reader said that a group of travelers lived in Staffordshire Street. After Sally’s murder, they left. Maybe they got scared, maybe this is a coincidence.

Another reader told me that in 1979 he was a paper boy. He was a teenager at that time. As he went about his round, he’d read the front page news, follow big stories, while delivering the papers. He described Peckham in 1979 as a violent place with a lot of street crime. The area where Sally was murdered was known as ‘Muggers Paradise.’

Sally’s murder was violent even for the South London crime standards at that time. He wrote that her upper body bones were all broken, her head was smashed in, and overall it looked like someone had jumped up and down on her body and in doing so, broke all her bones including her spine.

Sally left work late on Nov 30, 1979 and picked up Indian takeout for dinner. When she walked home it was Dec 1, 1979. Staffordshire street had on the right side a construction-type area behind the local police department. My readers recall reading/mentioning that someone was there, saw Sally walking by, and struck her from behind. Then this person dragged her through a hole that was ripped in the wire fence. She was dragged with such force that her boots came off her. You can see that if you google Sally Shepherd’s murder and then select images. I do not post them here as they are Getty Images.

Sally was raped and beaten to death. None of my readers mentioned an autopsy or possible DNA found but they all said that later on Dec 1, 1979, she was found by a worker. Police found bloodstained bricks and her Indian takeaway dinner was strewn all over the area. The frenzied attack Clark referred to comes back in my readers’ emails. They recall police found blood spatter several feet away from the body.

Nobody was ever arrested in this case and nobody was ever brought to trial. The killer became known as the “Beast of Peckham.”

My paper delivering reader remembered the mention that Sally was supposed to move to a safer part of London.

Forensics

The part that I still hope to clear up or, find more information about concerns the hairs found. Police revealed in 2016 that they have a potentially vital clue: three strands of hair that could be from the killer. Where they were found is not mentioned. Problem is that the hairs are rootless.

Rootless hairs can be used to decide ethnicity (phenotyping) and that can help narrow down the field of suspects. It can also help firm up the identity of a suspect police had their eye on. But rootless hairs cannot give us a high-quality full DNA profile to make a match with 100% certainty.

At the moment, that nuclear DNA that we normally find in the hair root is so degraded and so poor quality on a hair shaft that there is no way that we can normally get a result,” says David Ballard, an expert in DNA analysis at King’s College, London. Without the guarantee of results, scientists are “very cautious” about examining hairs because there’s a danger they’ll use up the sample during testing. So until we have a better method these hairs are locked in a vault. They cannot be sacrificed.

Gratitude

I cannot thank my readers enough for actually contacting me with details. Even if it is just confirming what is in the papers, it helps. There is vague reporting in many cases. Should you know about newspaper articles that mention the three hairs, please contact me. Also, if you know Sally’s exact date of birth, her full name or, if you have any memories about her you wish to share, please contact me.

Rest in peace, Sally Shepherd.