5.20 – Halliwell: Fulcher and NYE vindicated
by TIM HICKS & CHRIS CLARK
Introduction: Julie Finley re-assessed
Many readers will be aware that the NYE has been covering the case of serial killer Christopher Halliwell and the way Detective Superintendent Stephen Fulcher was treated after he arrested Halliwell for the murders of Becky Godden-Edwards (aged 20) in 2003 and Sian O’Callaghan (aged 22) in 2011, in Swindon.
Detective Superintendent Fulcher’s story was first told in his book “To catch a serial killer” which was reviewed in the NYE here. The public have become more familiar with the story of the injustice done to him from the series “A Confession” starring Martin Freeman as Fulcher.
He has remained staunch in his belief that Christopher Halliwell murdered many more women than the two for whom he was convicted. He prefaced his book with this dedication:
“To Sian and Becky and the girls who haven’t been found”
He has also maintained his determined struggle to obtain a full antecedent investigation into Halliwell and the other murders he committed.
Christopher Halliwell (Left) and his victim Becky Godden-Edwards
The authors have independently evaluated Fulcher’s assessment that there are more victims and find it credible. Their independent investigation has led them to conclude that Halliwell may have killed at least 30 women across England and Scotland. See Table 1, here, and the list of articles at the end of this piece.
In August 2018, the NYE published this article Is Halliwell the East Lancs Ripper? in which the authors asserted that Halliwell should be considered as a suspect in a number of murders in the North West of England.
One of these murders was the murder of Julie Finley. She is pictured above in the lead illustration as a child and as an adult. Her brave mother Patricia Finley is shown tending her grave.
Now our colleagues on the Daily Mirror have traced a key witness who has come forward with important new evidence linking Halliwell to her murder. As a result, Merseyside Police has now re-opened the investigation into Julie Finley’s murder and started a cold case review, with Halliwell as a suspect.
This latest development in our investigation demonstrates the quality of the NYE’s journalism and that it is again ahead of the nationals in covering major crime.
The NYE’s original coverage of the murder of Julie Finley (Case 13)
Chris has been following the Julie Finlay case for some time. He sent this e mail to the Major incident room at Merseyside Police on the 15th of August 2014 at 14.10.
FAO Detective Superintendent Tim Keelan
Major Incident Team Merseyside Police
My name is Chris Clark, a retired Norfolk Police intelligence officer now residing in County Durham. I do not have any direct information concerning the murder of Julie Finley’s murder which I came across when doing research on the internet.
From what I have read I assume that you have ruled out Alan Kyte dubbed “The Midlands Ripper” who used the M6 and was from Staffordshire. His two victims from 1993 and 1994 were dumped in similar circumstances.
Another one who became very forensically aware was Christopher Halliwell from Swindon who was imprisoned in 2012 for the 2011 Sian O’Callaghan murder and showed Wiltshire police the site of another one from 2002. He was a Construction Worker/Builder from 1991 and worked with his Father-in-Law he had access to a large Transit Van and was also a Taxi Driver originally from Dumfries in Scotland when he was fostered out and he travelled all over the country in his work and was a Narrow Boat Holiday Maker and had extensive knowledge of them including Manchester Ship Canal. Recently this year Wiltshire Police have recovered a lot of women’s clothing from a pond including one of Sian O’Callaghan’s boots.
Additionally during late August 2014 two detectives from the Combined Avon & Somerset/Wiltshire MIT at Brunel, Bristol (300 mile trip) visited me in County Durham with regards to a newspaper article I had been featured in over some unsolved murders in the West Country I had linked to Halliwell and whilst they were here I told them of my thoughts about Halliwell being involved in Julie’s murder.
I also believe that Halliwell is responsible for the other two murders attributed to the “East Lancs Ripper” that of Linda Donaldson and Maria Christina Requena.
At the end of September 2016 following Halliwell’s second conviction for the murder of Becky Godden-Edwards, Chris made a list of twelve potential other victims he believed police forces should focus on and passed them to the “Brunel” Joint Avon & Somerset/Wiltshire/Gloucestershire Major Incident Team (MIT) situated at Bristol. Amongst those listed were the cases of Linda Guest (alias Jacky Waines), Linda Donaldson, Maria Christina Requena and Carol Clark. NYE article on these cases here.
To date Chris has never had any follow-up or contact from Merseyside Police. Or from the Brunel MIT.
The original text of the authors August 2018 article is below. In the article we made the point that Halliwell was a narrow-boat enthusiast who may have known the Liverpool area well from narrow-boating on the local canals.
Twenty three year old Liverpool prostitute Julie Finley was abducted in Liverpool and found by a cyclist at lunchtime on Saturday the 6th of August 1994. She was naked in carrot field off the St Helens-bound carriageway of the Rainford bypass. She had been strangled. There was no sign of her clothing at the scene.
Julie was last seen alive and well about 11.00pm on the previous night, Friday, 5 August 1994, in Pembroke Place, at the rear of the Liverpool Royal University Teaching Hospital, less than a mile from the Liverpool end of the Leeds and Liverpool Canal. She was witnessed talking to ‘an unknown white man, of average height and build, and aged in his 20s to 30s’.
A few hours before Julie’s body was discovered, a witness told police he saw someone matching her description arguing with a man at about 12.30am on Saturday, 6 August, 1994 outside the Wheatsheaf Public House, situated only 50 yards from where her body was to be found the following day. The unknown man was attempting to force this young woman into a white Transit van. Police have previously appealed with regard to a white Transit van which was seen by a passer-by near to the entrance of the field where Julie was found. She was not murdered at the spot where she was found.
Twenty people have been arrested in connection with this crime over the years, but no-one has been charged.
Liverpool Echo report with more information, police appeal for information and £20,000 reward details here.
Why the authors believe Halliwell should be considered as a suspect in the murder of Julie Finley:
- Julie Finley fitted Halliwell’s victim preferences and was a prostitute, enticed into a car.
- Halliwell lived in the Liverpool area, he may have travelled through Liverpool on narrow boat holidays on the Leeds and Liverpool Canal, which is situated three miles from the abduction points for Linda Donaldson and Julie Finley.
- Julie Finley was witnessed talking to ‘an unknown white man, of average height and build, aged in his 20s to 30s’. Christopher Halliwell was thirty in 1994 and fits this general description.
- Shortly after the murder of Julie Finley a woman calling herself Tina called police and told them that on the night of her murder, Julie said she was going to meet a taxi driver from Prescot. Halliwell is known to have worked as a taxi driver and Prescot is 6.5 miles from the deposition site at the Rainford By-Pass.
- The taxi-driver from Prescot may have been a regular client of Julie Finley. Halliwell was a regular client of Becky Godden-Edwards before he murdered her, so this is again consistent with his use of prostitutes and his modus operandi.
- Halliwell lived in the Liverpool area and travelled widely.
- Halliwell used prostitutes, so may also have been familiar with the abduction point from picking up prostitutes while living in Liverpool.
- The deposition site for Julie Finley at Rainford By-Pass is 10.6 miles from the Leeds and Liverpool Canal at Waddicar, 11.7 miles from the Leeds and Liverpool Canal at Wigan and 13 miles from Liverpool City Halliwell lived in the Liverpool area, so he may have known the by-pass deposition site, which may have been selected in advance.
- The deposition site was in a rural area, which is entirely consistent with Halliwell’s modus operandi.
- Julie Finley’s clothing was removed. Halliwell removed clothing from his victims to keep as a trophy.
The new witness evidence traced by the Daily Mirror
- Halliwell lived at Aughton Park Ormskirk in 1994, four miles from the deposition site where Julie Finley’s body was dumped.
- He worked as a window fitter in North Wales before returning to Swindon on weekends to work as a taxi driver.
- Halliwell was driving a D registration white van at the time. A woman seen fitting Julie’s description was seen being forced into a white van at the deposition site. See above.
The above evidence developed by the Mirror has been verified by a second witness.
The Liverpool Echo (article here) has linked Halliwell to Julie’s murder and those of:
- Jacky Waines, (also referred to as Linda Guest). Case 4, 20.04.1985: Another Bristol prostitute who was abducted in Bristol and found in Frampton Cotterrell. Crimewatch UK reconstruction here, Bristol Post article covering her death here. NYE article Jacky Waines AKA Linda Guest re-assessed.
- Carol Clark Case 9, 26.03 1993: Carol Clark was a prostitute from Bristol, who disappeared and was found in Sharpness Docks in March 1993. She is one of the women the authors believe was murdered by Halliwell. An article covering her case, “The Swindon and Bristol Cases”, is in preparation by the authors.
- Yvonne Fitt. The authors believe that Yvonne Fitt was murdered by Serial Killer John Taylor and should not be attributed to Christopher Halliwell. NYE article here.
The authors would add the following observations:
- Julie was seen arguing with a man at about 30am on Saturday, 6 August, 1994. This would give Hallliwell time to return to Swindon for the weekend, arriving at about 04.00. Ready to drive his taxi.
- Halliwell routinely used prostitutes. Ormskirk is a convenient 30 minutes’ drive to Liverpool or an hour to Manchester and their red light districts.
- Serial killers like to operate in areas they are familiar with and comfortable with. Living four miles from the deposition site would mean that Halliwell would have known the site well the patterns of traffic and would have been confident operating there.
- Julie Finley fitted Halliwell’s victim preferences. She was 23, (his other acknowledged victims were Becky Godden-Edwards 20 in 2003 and Sian O’Callaghan 22 in 2011) and bore an uncanny resemblance to Becky Godden-Edwards. (See the photographs above).
Merseyside Police has a particularly proactive and helpful media unit that works well with new media. It provided the NYE with the following media statement:
Detective Chief Inspector Rachel Wilson said:
“We can confirm we are investigating a new line of enquiry in relation to the murder of 23-year-old Julie Finley in August 1994.
A new witness has recently come forward with information and has been spoken to by detectives.
Julie’s body was found in a carrot field off the St Helens bound carriageway of the Rainford by-pass by a cyclist at lunchtime on Saturday, 6 August 1994. She had been strangled and there was no sign of her clothing at the scene. There was also no indication that where she was found was the scene of the murder.
We continue to appeal for any information which can help her mum, Pat, and the rest of her family find some closure after all these years and would ask anyone with information to contact Merseyside Police via our social media desk @MerPolCC, call 101, or @CrimestoppersUK, anonymously, on 0800 555 111.
The North Wales connection
The witness information developed by journalists working for the Mirror has revealed that Halliwell was working in North Wales and returning to Swindon on Weekends.
This means that he may have committed murders in the North Wales Police Force Area.
Halliwell worked as a builder, groundsman and gravedigger. He successfully concealed the body of Becky Godden Edwards for several years by burying her. Ormskirk is only an hour’s drive from North Wales. This aspect of his modus operandi means that here could be cases of women that have gone missing in North Wales or Merseyside, who may have been murdered by Halliwell and buried in either force area. As with Becky Godden-Edwards, they may not even have been notified to the police as missing.
In response to a media enquiry from the NYE, Detective Superintendent Steven Williams of North Wales Police commented:
“We are currently liaising with colleagues at Merseyside Police to establish the facts around any connection Haliwell had with North Wales”.
The impact of investigating historical cases on victims’ families
Julie Finley’s mother Patricia, pictured above tending Julie’s grave, has called for Halliwell to be interviewed over Julie’s murder. She and her family are desperate to know what happened and that Julie had justice. Liverpool Echo article here.
Chief Constable Keith Hellawell of West Yorkshire Police, investigated historic crimes committed by Yorkshire Ripper Peter Sutcliffe but had not been attributed to him. He can be heard here at 34 minutes, describing how important it is for historic murder cases to be investigated, for the sake of the victims’ families.
This essentially reflects Detective Superintendent Stephen Fulcher’s position. One of the many achievements of his successful investigation into Halliwell was the empathy the developed with the families of both victims. As a result of his actions, they at least have closure, know what happened, know their daughter’s murderer was caught and punished, and that he will never again inflict on a family the pain they suffered.
It is essential that the police provide other families with the same comfort, whenever possible.
The importance of the media in investigating historical cases
The new evidence has been developed by journalists from the Mirror, with whom Chris is in close contact.
This demonstrates the importance of the police maintaining close contact with the media and acting on information it develops.
Living in Ormskirk would put Halliwell in striking distance of all of the North East, North West North Wales and the Midlands. As a result of their work, there is now a very strong case for reviewing the new information on Halliwell’s activity in Merseyside, by multiple forces, against unsolved murders and suspicious disappearances in these areas.
On this occasion, North Wales and Merseyside Police appear to be taking the information seriously and working together. Merseyside Police has re-opened the Finley case and are leveraging off the work done by journalists. This is highly commendable.
It is a big change from the past and a considerable improvement. However, this was not always the case.
In this documentary on the Midlands Ripper Alun Kyte, Chief Constable Mick Creedon of Derbyshire Police – who as a Detective Superintendent led the successful cold case investigation into Kyte – laments attitudes to prostitute murders in the media, police and the public, which was unsympathetic, because of a perception that prostitution was a lifestyle choice and violence was an inevitable consequence of it. He also echoes the views of Chief Constable Hellawell on the importance of ending the suffering of the victim’s family, by resolving historical cases.
Like Halliwell and Yorkshire Ripper Peter Sutcliffe, Kyte operated across force boundaries. During his investigation into Kyte, Chief Constable Creedon had to take charge of an investigation into a prostitute murder run by another force. In the above documentary he comments that this was not welcomed by that force. This identifies another issue of police culture. Refusal to work together effectively in cross border investigations of the type that are inevitably involved in serial killer investigations.
Some comparisons of police attitudes and the “Nude in the Nettles” murder of “Hope”
Not all forces will act so effectively in the murder of a prostitute as Merseyside and North Wales.
North Yorkshire Police will still not follow up any of the new evidence developed by local journalists from the NYE on the “Nude in the Nettles murder” of a Scarborough prostitute. Compare the careless response of NYP to new witness evidence in a prostitute murder, to the prompt and effective response of Merseyside Police above, which is proactively following up on new witness evidence. This is a major and disgraceful policing failure by North Yorkshire Police, which is not investigating historical crime to the same standard as forces like Wiltshire and Merseyside.
We suspect that if “Hope” had been the daughter of a police officer, Chief Constable Winward would have allocated unlimited police resources to the investigation into her murder. It appears that, as a force, North Yorkshire Police or its chief officers still suffer from the same historical prejudices against sex workers that Chief Constable Creedon referred to above.
Be that as it may. It is clear from this failure by North Yorkshire Police that the British Police Service has still not developed a coherent, coordinated, mandatory policy across all forces on antecedent investigations, media relations and investigating historic cases of serious crime.
Returning to Christopher Halliwell: It is also clear from these latest developments that the police have not got to the bottom of Halliwell’s movements, or of the offences he may have committed. This vindicates the line taken by the authors and former Detective Superintendent Fulcher that Halliwell committed far more murders than have been attributed to him. This needs to be investigated centrally.
The NYE team will continue to pursue its investigation into Halliwell.
NYE appeal for information. Christopher Halliwell in Scarborough
Christopher Halliwell is believed to have visited Scarborough to go fishing. If you have seen Christopher Halliwell, please contact the NYE on the firstname.lastname@example.org e mail address. All responses will be treated in the strictest confidence.
The NYE Christopher Halliwell series
The NYE is the only media organisation that has conducted an in depth ongoing investigation into Halliwell. Links to our articles are below. They constitute the most up to date and continually updated source of information on Halliwell available to the public.
As a result the NYE is now the leading UK website for cold case investigations and has developed a specialist following of police officers and other readers interested in cold case investigations.
If you enjoyed this article, you may want to read the others in the series:
- The breaking of Detective Superintendent Stephen Fulcher. By Tim Hicks
- Book review: “Catching a serial killer” by Stephen Fulcher. By Tim Hicks
- Christopher Halliwell and Peter Sutcliffe compared. By Chris Clark & Tim Hicks
- Christopher Halliwell how many victims? By Chris Clark & Tim Hicks
- Christopher Halliwell: The Secret Murders. Parts 1 – 14.
- Scotland 1.
- Is Halliwell the “East Lancs Ripper”?
- The other Northern and Midlands cases.
- Have you seen this man?
- The River Tees Murders.
- Halliwells undetected victims.
- Police media operations against the NYE‘s Halliwell investigation. Part 1:
- (1. Wiltshire Police, 2. North Yorkshire Police and 3. Cleveland Police).
- Police media operations against the NYE‘s Halliwell investigation Part 2
- (4. Greater Manchester Police. 5. Greater Manchester Police and Crime Commissioner).
- York: Did Halliwell murder Claudia Lawrence? 1: Operation Cabin Part 1
- York: Did Halliwell murder Claudia Lawrence? 2: Operation Cabin Part 2
- York: Did Halliwell murder Claudia Lawrence? 3: Operation Essence Part 1
- York: Did Halliwell murder Claudia Lawrence? 4: Operation Essence Part 2
- The Swindon and Bristol murders.
- InsideOut Justice: Who murdered Linda Razzell?
- Re-assessments based on fresh evidence or comment.
- Scotland 2: Caroline Glachan re-assessed
- Manchester 2: The murder of Helen Sage re-assessed
- Bristol 2: Jacky Waines AKA Linda Guest re-assessed
- Claudia: Halliwell antecedent investigation re-assessed
- Sharon Harper re-assessed
- Julie Finley re-assessed