An unsolved murder of a school teacher

On the 17th of October 1995 a devout Christian, Joy Hewer was sexually assaulted and murdered in her flat in Walthamstow, London.

Retired school teacher, 52-year-old Joy Hewer was sexually assaulted and repeatedly stabbed to death in her own home. No motive seems apparent and the case remains unsolved to this day.

Joy’s lifeless body was found in her sixth-floor flat in St, David’s Court, off Parkstone Road, Walthamstow after the fire brigade was contacted by an unknown caller. The brigade arrived at 11.45 pm and extinguished two fires that had been deliberately set, presumably in order to cover up the murder.

One fire had been set in the lounge and one in the bedroom, presumably in hope that there would be a huge blaze and if the body was found at all it would be presumed that the person died in the fire.

Cold cases such as this one always bring an air of unease to the community, people know that a killer is on the prowl and has not been found which is certainly the case with the murder of Joy.

Mrs Hewer had spent some time at The London Spiritual Mission in Notting Hill on the afternoon of her murder, she had been seen leaving at around 3:30 pm.

There is no clear evidence as to what her movements were after that until 5.50 pm when she was recorded visiting a local pharmacy just around the corner from her home in Wood Street, Walthamstow.

At around 10.30 pm that night a neighbour recalls a lot of banging and loud noises coming from Joy’s flat but did not feel it was relevant to complain about.

CCTV showed a male entering St. David’s Court at around 10.30 pm but he has never been identified. He certainly never came forward in order to be eliminated from enquiries. The male was described as aged between 30–40 years old and wearing a light-coloured jacket.

An anonymous call to 999 emergency services from a local telephone kiosk at 11.18 pm alerted the fire brigade and crews were despatched.

The caller rang in from a kiosk in Fulbourne Road, Walthamstow and reported smoke coming from the window of Joy’s flat. Although the caller did not give his name he can be heard on the call recording asking someone at the bus stop what the name of the road was in order to give the call handler a location.

Despite appeals by the police no one has come forward to say they made the call or were even in the bus queue. Sadly this is often the case in London, where the “No one saw a thing” attitude exists.

Detective inspector Susan Stansfield, of the Metropolitan Police Special Casework Investigation Team, who led the investigation, said: “Joy Hewer was a kind-hearted Christian woman who was devoted to her beliefs and to her family.

Joy was a regular at several different churches in the Notting Hill and Walthamstow areas of London. She did a lot of work for varied charities and since her retirement from teaching, she had lived the life of a spinster who was very close to her family and circle of friends.

It seems quite unlikely that Joy would not have let an unknown person into her flat, there was no sign of a forced entry so it would seem that she may have known her killer. This is quite disturbing as it appears unlikely that she would have entered into a relationship after being a single lady all her life.

Police reported that two coffee mugs were found used in the flat so the question remains, was the person who had drunk coffee with this retired teacher then murdered her and set fire to her home? If that is the case then why would someone do that?

It does seem possible that the unidentified coffee drinker may have made sexual advances to Joy and she refused, this seems particularly likely as she had been sexually assaulted.

Sadly a long time has passed since this dreadful crime took place and Joy’s parents have passed away but someone out there may know something. Were you in the bus queue at 11.18 pm on the night of October 17th 1995? Do you recall a man calling 999 and asking for help with the location? If so then get in touch with the Metropolitan Police via 101.

Joy’s sister, brother and nephews are still very much alive and keen to see justice done in this case. Bear in mind that this was a block of flats where the fires were set and things could have really escalated.

Joy’s sister, Penny Barnes, said: “Joy was our loving sister who was absolutely no harm to anyone. She’d enjoyed her work as a teacher, adored her nieces and nephews and was fantastic with children. She regularly attended church and often helped at charity events. We’ve never forgotten the moment we were told she’d been murdered. It will never make any sense to us.

“Joy was someone who would go out of her way to help others. She lived a quiet and peaceful life which was totally at odds with her last terrifying moments. We need to see closure and can’t face another 20 years of unanswered questions.”

I am reminded of fires such As Grenfell Tower and the tragic loss of life there. One murder is dreadful, and several deaths as a result of trying to cover the crime are even worse still.

Please cast your mind back and see if you remember anything about that night or even the next day. Did you see anyone acting in an unusual manner perhaps? Did you maybe sit next to someone on the tube or bus on the night in question? Did you maybe serve someone in a shop who smelled heavily of smoke? Did the person have blood on their clothes?

I will leave this story here but I must remind you that there is a £20,000 reward for information leading to the identity of the person who murdered Joy and committed the act of arson in a block of flats in Walthamstow on October 17th 1995

You can contact police on 101 or you can call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111

If you would like to discuss this case or any other with me then please do get in contact.



Follow me on Twitter:

Follow me on Instagram:

Find me on Facebook:



Lolly’s True Crime World cold case review specialists, researchers, and Unsolved crime investigation is our passion. Buy me a coffee

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
Lolly True crime

Lolly’s True Crime World cold case review specialists, researchers, and Unsolved crime investigation is our passion. Buy me a coffee