Twenty days ago we began the arduous task of a deep-dive review of four unsolved murder cases in Cheltenham, Stroud, Coleford and Stonehouse.
The task is a big one yes, but one that nevertheless needs to be done. We feel that actually visiting former crime scenes and speaking to people there is the best way to get the case back into the public arena.
The first of these murders that need our attention is that of Constance “Little Granny” Aris.
On February 28th 1985, the pensioner in her 70s was found by her son Keith and daughter-in-law Vanessa in her armchair, she had been battered to death with what was believed to have been an axe, the TV was still on.
Connie had been out in the early evening of February 27th 1985 to attend a Friendly Society meeting at St Marks Community Centre in Cheltenham. Sometime between 6.30 pm that evening and 9 am on 28th February she was murdered.
Now one thing that we need to clarify is the date of the killing as the national database for deaths clearly shows Constance E E Aris of Cheltenham deceased in 1986.
This is the copy of the record taken from Findmypast.com
Death quarter 2, Registration Month 4
Death year 1986, District Cheltenham
Register number 486, County Gloucestershire
Volume 22, Page 1441
So this is something we are currently exploring and have contacted witnesses to further explore this. Obviously, I will report back when we have clarification.
Links to this investigation
Since we began to review this case we have identified two possible links to other unsolved killings, one in Bristol and one in Plymouth but we cannot go into any detail on this just at the moment, as enquiries are ongoing.
The next case is the 1989 murder of Carmel Gamble who was murdered at her holiday cottage in Stroud on Remembrance Sunday.
The fire brigade attended the cottage after a fire was reported at the Rodborough address. As part of the search discovered the body of severely anorexic Carmel Gamble who was 43 years old.
The worrying thing was that she had not died as a result of the fire, she had been beaten to death with several severe blows to her skull. She had been badly mutilated and then piles of clothes set around the body and set alight using paraffin as an accelerant.
There has never been any sign of this case being solved despite evidence from a woman who came forward a few years later.
In the relatively few days since we began looking at these cases we have been able to speak to two people who recall the case and are willing to talk to us. We will bring an update as we get it.
This murder was pretty horrific with the victim being a well-known gangster. His badly burned body was found frozen by wildlife rangers Neil Sollis and Ray Beasley in High Meadow Woods near Coleford Gloucestershire, it was around 9 am December 21st 2004.
When the two rangers first found the body they thought that it was rolled up carpet but when they looked closer they discovered it was actually a dead body rolled up in a foetal position.
The post-mortem revealed that he had been stabbed some 70 times and his throat had been cut. There was a strong smell f petrol which may well have caused the woodland fire.
Courtney Davies was a well known criminal from Cardiff with convictions for drugs, firearms and violence. In 1986 he had been sent to prison for 15 years for a violent robbery of the home of a Welsh businessman. Davies had been released in 1994 having served eight years of the sentence.
This murder is believed to have been a gangland killing it is our early opinion that this is correct.
Police appealed for the drivers of a red Ford Escort, a white Lexus, amd a red & white motorcycle seen along the A4136 between 1050 pm and 1150 pm on the night of December 19th 2004 but to no avail.
DNA found on a cigarette butt led to some arrests and 32-year-old Malcolm Martin was put on trial at Bristol Crown Court, however, the trial collapsed before it could begin and Mr Martin who had been deaf and mute since the age of 12 when he had meningitis said the arrest ruined his life.
Gloucestershire Police say that there is really very little chance of a conviction but regardless of this man’s convictions, I feel that the case needs to be reviewed, not just written off.
The last case I want to bring to you as we review is that of 29-year-old Richard Miles who was stabbed to death in the back garden of his home in Newtown Near Stonehouse Gloucestershire on March 10th 1993.
He was by all accounts a well liked man and there seems to have been no explanation for the stabbing.
Over 40 police officers were drafted in to work on the case, stopping 1,140 cars and questioning 277 people that had passed through the area on the day of the killing but to no avail.
Three men were arrested in November 2013 in connection with the case, two on suspicion of murder and the third on suspicion of perverting the course of justice, they were released on bail pending further enquiries but nothing has ever come of it and the case was discontinued.
Several mystery persons have never been identified including an ‘attractive woman’ pushing a buggy near Richard’s home on the day of the killing despite police interviewing mums at Eastington Nursery School and two men seen in a nearby field.
Mr Miles was a chronic cannabis smoker but police said at the time there was no evidence to suggest any link between his drug taking and his death. It is possible that this could have been the link but I somehow doubt it as he worked full time and had no other debts so it is unlikely he would have had a ‘drugs debt’.
Richard’s mother was the person who found her son’s lifeless body with a knife buried in his chest and his father said that she will never recover from that day.
Why was this man killed? He worked full time as a panel beater and police were unable to find anyone who even had a bad word to say about him so what caused his murder? Hopefully we can start to get some answers to these questions, as despite the passage of time someone out there knows what happened and who was responsible.
We are spending time speaking to people in each area, taking photographs and video footage as well as making enquiries into the victim’s lifestyles and backgrounds.
We will keep updating this blog or post new ones as time passes and the investigations continue, obviously if we find evidence that could lead to a conviction the information will be passed immediately to the police.
Look forward to bringing you more as we get it.
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If you’d like to discuss the case or indeed any part of our work please do get in touch.