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Martlesham: 20th anniversary of 82-year-old’s murder that repulsed community

14:04 11 February 2013

Doris Shelley

Doris Shelley


DORIS Shelley was found in a pool of blood by a neighbour.

Mrs Shelley died 11 days later after sustaining fatal injuries when being bludgeoned about the head during a vicious attack. The assault occurred some time between 2pm on Wednesday, February 10, 1993, and 1pm the following day.

What occurred during those 23 hours has always remained a mystery.

The 82-year-old’s injuries were inflicted 18 months after her house was broken into, although it was never known if the two incidents were connected.

More than 70 officers were investigating Mrs Shelley’s murder at one point, and a £10,000 reward was offered to catch the killer, but even now the vital pieces of the jigsaw remain missing.

Things were made more complicated for police as Miss Shelley lived in a chaotic state in her Main Road bungalow.

Former Detective Superintendent Roy Lambert was one of the senior officers on the case.

Now retired after 41 years working for Suffolk Constabulary, Mr Lambert said: “It is quite sad. It was a horrible offence and one of the most frustrating cases of my career.

“It was a difficult case because Doris Shelley was an elderly lady living on her own. She didn’t have any family and was helped by neighbours.

“Her home was in a bit of a state of disarray. Examining the scene was very difficult forensically.

“Because she did not have many visitors it was quite difficult to tie down when she was last seen.”

Mrs Shelley was seriously injured and traumatised when she was found. She was unable to tell anyone what had happened before she died.

House-to-house enquiries were made, road checks were carried out, appeals to the public were issued. Police also asked for help in finding the driver of a red Ford Sierra that was spotted on the animal lover’s driveway with the gates closed on the last day Mrs Shelley was seen alive. However, what avenues there were led nowhere.

Mr Lambert said: “Mrs Shelley never spoke. We had no idea what happened.

“Sadly no-one came forward. It is always frustrating when you can’t find many leads.”

There were no signs of Mrs Shelley’s home being searched or of any property being taken.

At one stage her death was linked to an attack on an Eyke postmistress, Susan Allum, who survived a similar attack five months earlier.

Two men aged 21 and 19 and two girls aged 16 and 17 from Ipswich were interviewed by police, but never charged.

More than 3,000 people were questioned. The murder was also featured on BBC’s Crimewatch but the case remains open.

A spokesman for Suffolk Constabulary said: “The joint major investigation team routinely review unsolved crimes from Suffolk and Norfolk.

“For each victim, there are family and friends who require closure and with Doris Shelley it is no different. The investigation into her death remains open and we will not stop looking for the person or persons responsible.”

If you have any information which could help – even 20 years on – telephone Suffolk Constabulary on 101 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.

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