Who Killed Sharon Harper?
I decided to research this case after Jarad Adams published a blog back in the summer, covering the murders of Sharon Harper and Julie Pacey in Grantham, Lincolnshire in 1994. I have been struck by this story, so decided to investigate further.
The young woman, pictured above was just five months old when her mother was cruelly murdered on her way home from work in the market town of Grantham, she was killed just two months before thirty-eight-year-old Julie Pacey who was found strangled in the bathroom of her own home.
Sharon Harper was just twenty-one when she was brutally murdered and her body was partially hidden in some shrubbery close to a construction site in the early hours of July 2nd 1994, she had been beaten and strangled.
Her body was discovered later that day by local children who were playing in the area.
Although there was no sign of a struggle, it was reported by forensic examiners that Sharon had sex shortly before she was killed. There is no suggestion of rape or sexual assault in police reports but it does seem quite likely the sexual activity was connected to the murder in some way.
It is not clear whether or not the murder took place at the site where the body was found or whether she was killed elsewhere and then dumped. I have a feeling that the actual murder probably took place in a car soon after the sexual act then the driver dumped the body and drove off.
Now Lincolnshire Police have always refused to link the cases of Julie Pacey and Sharon Harper, but I really fail to see why. Julie was found in her bathroom, she had her tights and underwear below her knees and had been sexually assaulted and then strangled. Sharon was found fully clothed but had been sexually active very soon before her death and was strangled, so where is the suggestion of a different MO? In my mind, the failure to link the cases is one of the biggest reasons that neither case has been solved some twenty-six years on.
Twenty-one-year-old Sharon had everything to live for, a young baby, her own flat and was making plans to get married. She had a part-time job in a local public house, The Market Cross in Westgate, Grantham and by all accounts was very happy. So why was she killed? Was this just a random late-night case of “grab a random woman from the street and murder her”? No, I really don’t think so.
It seems that Sharon may have been seen with the man that could potentially be her killer a few times prior to her murder, but what her connection with him was is yet to be established. I will come back to this shortly.
On the evening prior to her death, Sharon had taken her baby daughter to a friend who regularly babysat for her when she and her boyfriend had to both work, she then walked to work.
The evening was quite busy in the pub but relatively uneventful, there were no reports of any tense situations or fights and Sharon was said to be in a good, cheerful mood, She was friendly and chatty with both customers and staff as usual. She had been planning an evening out with her colleagues from the pub that Sunday coming.
The pub closed at around 11,15pm as it always did, the staff cleaned up the stayed for a drink before leaving. Interestingly it is reported that Sharon was the last to leave The Market Cross at approximately 12.15am. I am not certain whether the fact she was last to leave bears relevance but, I feel it must be included in any assessment of the case.
After work, Sharon would normally walk back to the baby-sitter’s home and collect five-month-old Sara then head off home. On the night in question, it seems that this was her intention as she made her way along Westgate, Harlaxton Road and then Trent Road.
There have been reports of Sharon having been seen at The Archways petrol station on Harlaxton Road soon after she had left the pub, she was apparently arguing with a man who was described to be in his mid-thirties, with long hair and wearing a Leeds United Shirt. The witness who reported this said that he had seen the couple arguing and as Sharon had seemed pretty upset, he had stopped to enquire if everything was alright. Sharon had assured him that everything was fine and he had driven off.
The witness knew Sharon Harper, hence the reason that he stopped to see if everything was OK yet interestingly he wished to remain anonymous in giving his statement, I can only wonder why, did he perhaps believe that if the killer learned of the report being made against him he may seek retribution?
Another witness who said he was a local taxi driver reported that he saw a woman who he believed to be Sharon Harper trying to enter a telephone box on Wharf Road, Grantham at around 12,45 am. According to the witness a man appeared to be deliberately obstructing the telephone box thus preventing Sharon from entering.
An important point here is that if this statement is accurate then we need to work out why Sharon seemed to be heading back towards the pub. Was she may be trying to get this “man” to leave her alone? Perhaps she thought that if she got back to the pub then the man bothering her would clear off and she would be able to seek safety or protection from the landlord of the pub.
The witness from the telephone box report described the man obstructing Sharon as having shoulder-length hair and wearing a white t-shirt with jeans. This certainly sounds like the man described with Sharon at Archways previously. Although there is no definitive indication that the man’s t-shirt was, in fact, a Leeds United football shirt, it is certainly possible that would be white and thus match the description of the earlier witness.
Interestingly a friend of Sharon’s reported that she had seen her talking sternly with a man of a very similar description just a few days prior to the murder outside the local Morrisons supermarket. Sharon had walked away from the man and gone to speak to her friend, but when the friend had enquired as to the man’s identity Sharon had quite abruptly told her it didn’t matter and refused to talk about it, saying “he’s no-one”.
Was she having some kind of “relationship” other than with her fiance? Maybe something with a monetary arrangement attached? I have seen reports that Sharon was struggling financially, which of course makes sense as she had a small child and only a part-time income.
It is quite interesting, in fact somewhat concerning that this mysterious man with the long hair has never come forward in order to eliminate himself from police enquiries. There have also been appeals for a dark-coloured car that was reportedly seen parked in the Shepherd Construction car park at 3:35 am on July 2nd 1994 very close to the shrubbery where Sharon’s body was found.
Now, this is where things become interesting and quite dark. During Jarad Adams's research into the Grantham murders he raised a very valid point that a dark blue BMW had been seen in the driveway of Julie Pacey’s house, the other lady killed just a few weeks after Sharon in Grantham. You can read that blog by clicking Here
Curiously despite reports of a dark blue BMW car being seen on the driveway of Pacey’s home and even a sighting of her driving the same car, the vehicle has never been found and no one has come forward to be eliminated or to explain the mystery car. In fact, Lincolnshire police seem to have paid little or no attention to it during “intensive” investigations.
My feeling is that the car that was seen at the entrance to the construction site and the dark blue BMW parked on Julie Pacey’s driveway could well be one and the same car, possibly driven by a killer.
There have been a total of five arrests in this case to date but nobody has thus far been charged or convicted, There have been suggestions that the murder of Sharon Harper could have been the work of Christopher Halliwell but I doubt this very much.
Unfortunately, there is a person, who I will not name out there who sees an unsolved murder and makes some very flimsy circumstantial evidence “fit” the case in order to suggest the murder was the responsibility of Halliwell. I would advise caution in those reports as they serve to have a seriously adverse effect on the outcome of any public appeal for information.
There have also been reports published by some newspapers suggesting that Sharon Harper may have been a victim of an unidentified serial killer who had struck just a few days prior to her murder and taken the life of a woman in Coleby, Lincolnshire just five miles from Lincoln. Any such “link” has never been substantiated and seems doubtful.
My enquiries, in this case, are ongoing and I hope for Sara’s case the person responsible for her mother’s death can still be identified. I am not a gambler but I will close by saying “I firmly believe that if the driver/owner of the dark blue BMW car seen in the Julie Pacey murder enquiry is identified, then we will be very close to identifying the killer of Sharon Harper”.
Of course, if you do have any recollections that may be relevant to this case that could lead to a person ultimately being convicted of the dreadful and pointless killing of a young mother in July 1994 then get in touch with Crimestoppers 0800 555 111 and if you’d like to discuss this case or any other then do please get in touch with me.
I will leave it there and say that I will be back with a story of a religious cult member turned gruesome killer in my next article, so I will see you again very soon.