Ipswich: Detectives renew appeal over 87-year-old widow Edna Harvey's 1987 Finchley Road murder
PUBLISHED: 06:57 28 August 2014 | UPDATED: 08:27 28 August 2014
Thirty years ago today frail and barely able to see Edna Harvey was strangled in her Ipswich home during what is believed to have been a botched late-night burglary.
The fiercely independent 87-year-old is thought to have been murdered after confronting her killer who then attempted to set her body alight.
Her murder remains unsolved and today detectives renewed their appeal for information in an attempt to make the vital breakthrough in the case and bring the perpetrator to justice.
Just after midnight on Tuesday, August 28, 1984, neighbours saw smoke coming out of the front door of the widow’s ground floor flat in Finchley Road.
Police have said her home was broken into late on the Bank Holiday Monday.
They were alerted after Mrs Harvey’s mattress was set alight. She was pronounced dead at the scene lying on the mattress.
Officers discovered the flat had been searched with papers strewn around the lounge/dining area, but it was unclear if anything had been stolen.
Witnesses recalled seeing two males running from the direction of Mrs Harvey’s home down Finchley Road and along Cemetery Road towards the town centre. Detectives are still keen to identify them.
A post mortem examination established Mrs Harvey had died from asphyxiation. The pathologist also concluded that Edna had died prior to the setting of the fire.
Suffolk and Norfolk’s Joint Major Investigation Team is currently reviewing the case, using advances in technology to see if they can establish the murderer’s identity.
Detective Inspector Eamonn Bridger said; “This was a tragic case where a frail elderly lady was attacked in her home, the motive may have been that this was a burglary which went horribly wrong but we keep an open mind.
“Edna lived a relatively reclusive lifestyle due to poor eyesight and didn’t possess anything of any real value. At her age and stature she wouldn’t have been able to have put up much of a fight against her attacker.
“Edna’s family live locally and have always looked to get answers to what happened to her.
“At the time of the inquiry we carried out extensive house to house enquiries and used the technology which was available to us.
“Technology is evolving all the time and there is every chance that we could, in the future, get a break through on the forensic samples which were taken from the scene and are still retained.
“Coupled with this, there is someone out there who knows what happened to Edna that night and we would ask that person or anyone who has information to contact us.
“We, as an organisation will never give up on unsolved cases, however old, and we hope that this renewed appeal, 30 years on will bring us new information.”
The key time police are looking for information between is 11.45pm on August 27, 1984 and 12.25am on August 28, 1984, when smoke was seen coming from Mrs Harvey’s flat.
Anyone with information which could help the inquiry team should telephone detectives on 101 or Crimestoppers (anonymously) on 0800 555111.
With a strength of will belying her years Edna Harvey was unlikely to have lain in bed pretending to be asleep while her home was being burgled.
Her granddaughter Liz Lynch believes the 87-year-old would have grabbed her walking stick in a bid to see off any intruder.
Having successfully battled cancer only four years earlier Mrs Harvey’s strong-will could well have been the reason she was murdered.
Mrs Lynch, of Opal Avenue, Ipswich, said: “She was very independent. She used to do her own shopping and her own washing.
“My grandmother didn’t take any rubbish. She was strong-willed. She could be obstinate and would never let anybody walk all over her.
“She had cancer when she was 83, but she had an operation and got over it.
“She worked right up until she was 80. She used to clean in a pub.
“She had a stick and I think she went after these people (her killer/killers) with her stick which she kept beside her bed.
“Her murder was a really big shock to me because I was the only granddaughter her in Ipswich and my children went to see her.
“My son Neil had been round on the previous Saturday with my dad helping her to clean her paintwork and doing a few bits around the flat.
“You don’t think it’s ever going to happen to their family. Nobody ever thinks it’s going to happen to them.
“You just can’t imagine it. When it does it is such a complete and utter shock.
“It was horrible. I didn’t mind poeple asking me about it, but I hated it if people ignored me because they didn’t know what to say.
“I would love to know who did it and I still feel like that.”
Mrs Lynch said her grandmother’s killer is probably still alive.
“Somebody out there has it on their conscience, be it that they didn’t go in there intending to kill someone. I don’t think they did.
“She was asleep with her windows open. She had big sash windows.
“Police said they think whoever it was got out of town.
“There were so many fingerprints in there and there were some they weren’t able to place.
“In the end whoever it was didn’t get anything. That’s what makes me think she woke up and went for them. Then they went for her and strangled her in a panic.
“Whatever was going through her mind when they did that.
“I would like to thing after all this time if someone knows anything I would hope they would think how we are feeling
“I would hope they would have a conscience and would come forward.
“It’s always in the back of our minds. I would love someone to come forward so we could put an end to it.
“I am pleased it has not been forgotten.
“Do these people ever think what they did and what effect it had on the people she left behind?”