Who Killed Penny Bell
Found in her Jaguar With Fifty Stab wounds
Thirty years ago a very succcessful 43-year-old businesswoman from Denham, Buckinghamshire, England with no apparent worries or problems set out for another day of her life but it was in fact to be the day that she was murdered.
Penny Bell was a partner/director in a high powered recruitment agency, Coverstaff Ltd in Kilburn, London
The day of Thursday, June 6th 1991 began like any other and all was good with Penny, her husband Alistair Bell and her two children, Matthew and Lauren. Indeed Alistair had left the family home at 8.30 am as usual and set off to his work
They had builders in at the time and Penny left them to the refurbishment work, saying that she had an important appointment at 9.50 am that she could not afford to miss.
That was the last confirmed sighting of the businesswoman as she drove off in her pale blue Jaguar XJS car at 9.40 am.
Under three hours later, at around midday the police were called to the car park of Gurnell Leisure Centre, Greenford, London, where Penny had been discovered slumped over the steering wheel, she had been stabbed fifty times whilst still in her car.
There seems to be absolutely no explanation or motive for this horrific killing and no record of anyone that Penny had been scheduled to meet with that really gives any clue as far as identifying a killer is concerned.
Interestingly there was no record found of the appointment that Penny had mentioned, it had not been diarised anywhere and thus it was never established as to whom she was scheduled to meet with.
Despite her being described by the electrician working on the house as having her normal and casual demeanour she had not made the children’s beds and left wet towels laying on the bathroom floor, something which was completely out of character for her.
One point of interest here is that just three days prior to her murder, Penny had withdrawn a sum of £8,500.00, eight-thousand, five hundred pounds from her and Alistair’s joint bank account. This was quite an unusual thing for her and the money has never been accounted for. It would be my guess that the money and the vicious killing have some connection, but there is nothing to indicate just what part this played.
Several witnesses came forward including a female dog walker who claimed that she witnessed a male waiting on the Fulmer Common Road opposite Bridgettine Convent, he was standing by a brown or bronze coloured car. He got into a blue Jaguar XJS at 9.50 am which the witness believed to be driven by Bell. The male was described as five feet, ten inches tall and aged around forty-eight.
It is believed that Penny was murdered around 10.30 am and this ties in with another witness who claimed that he saw a blue Jaguar XJS driving very slowly, no more than 15 miles per hour along Greenford Road at around 10.20 am with the hazard lights flashing.
Penny was seen motionless in her car at around 11 am but witnesses thought that she was asleep and did not intervene, it was only around noon when someone noticed a lot of blood in the car that the police were alerted. She had been stabbed some fifty times in the chest and arms in what has been described as a “very frenzied attack”.
It seems that the killer had attacked Bell from the passenger seat before moving to the outside of the car and continuing the crazed attack from the driver’s door entrance, despite the fact she was more than likely already dead.
Police say that the position in which the car was parked aided the killer in avoiding being noticed as the front end of the vehicle faced a large hedge which was the perimeter of the car park. However the killer would have almost certainly been covered in a large amount of fresh blood.
Strangely, no witness ever came forward to suggest that there had been any sighting of such a person. The car park had been very busy on the morning of June 6th and was almost to its 153 space capacity.
On the 30th anniversary of this heinous murder, Penny Bell’s daughter, Lauren is appealing for anyone who can assist in solving the case to come forward with evidence that will lead to the killer being identified. She has offered a reward of £20,000 for information that leads to the conviction of her mother’s killer.
Lauren says that she believes her mother knew her killer as the frenzied attack suggests a crime of passion. Lauren said “I believe it was someone who wanted her but could no have her”.
A man named John Richmond, who had been a neighbour of the Bell family when they had lived at Whitmore Road, Harrow was arrested after his fingerprints were found in the Jaguar, he was released without charge after a period of investigation.
Richmond told The Sun newspaper in December 1994 that he had been in the Jaguar earlier in the day with Penny but he had got out and waved goodbye. He said that he believed he knew the killer and would reveal the identity if the paper paid him £80,000.
The Sun gave a report to the police saying that Richmond had claimed to be having a relationship with Bell and they had met on June 6th 1991 to consumate it, but the police found no evidence at all to verify this story.
Bearing in mind that John Richmond had been made bankrupt, had a criminal record for smuggling and forgery for which he had served time in prison, the evdience was not taken too seriously and needless to say the large sum of money was never paid to him.
Richmond was again arrested and questioned in 2005 when the case was reviewed by police but still he was not charged in connection with the murder.
Alastair Bell was also questioned as he was pretty much sole benefactor to his wife’s estate and life insurance payout, but he had a rock solid alibi that he was at work in Harrow on the day in question with multiple witnesses able to confirm that, so the case remains unsolved to this day.
I will leave this one there, and return in a few days with part two of my mini-series looking into the unsolved murders of prostitutes in Norfolk and suffolk. I wanted to post this one as it the thirtieth anniversary of the murder.
If of course anyone has any information at all please contact Crimestoppers on 0800–555–111 where you can give evidence in complete confidence. This was a vicious and unprovoked murder and Penny’s family deserve justice and closure, so do think hard and see if you recall anything that may just help to bring closure.
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