Pensioner quizzed over mother's death

COLD case detectives have arrested a pensioner on suspicion of killing an Essex mother-of-three more than 35 years ago.

James Hore

COLD case detectives have arrested a pensioner on suspicion of killing an Essex mother-of-three more than 35 years ago.

Maldon woman Josephine Backshall was found bound and strangled in a shallow pond in a quiet countryside lane near Bishop's Stortford.

A major police investigation was launched with detectives fearing the 39-year-old could have been lured to her death by a man who offered her part-time work as a model.

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Despite a huge inquiry that saw thousands of men interviewed the investigation drew a blank after the 1974 killing.

Then in November last year investigators from the Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire Cold Case Review Unit and Mrs Backshall's three children made a fresh appeal for information.

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The unit has now confirmed a pensioner from the Maldon area had been arrested on suspicion of murder.

In a statement they said: “A 68-year-old man from the Maldon area of Essex has been arrested in connection with the murder of Josephine Backshall in 1974. He has been bailed until April pending further inquiries.”

Mrs Backshall had last been seen by her family - including children Christopher, Sarah and Emma, who were 12, 10 and seven at the time, at about 6pm on October 29 when she left for an appointment in Witham.

Three days later the body of the Brownie leader was discovered in a field off Bury Green Lane, leading to Bury Green. She had been strangled and her watch had stopped at 8.10.Last November Richard Moulder of the cold case review team said people may have held back information at the time of the killing.

Despite the arrest the unit is still appealing for witnesses or anyone with any information to come forward.

Speaking in November, Mrs Backshall's children issued an emotional appeal.

They said: “Our loving mother's life was taken away from us when we were so young and we have endured 35 years of not knowing why, or by whom, she was murdered.

“Not only was she denied the pleasure of seeing us grow up, we now have families of our own of whom she would have been extremely proud.”

Anyone with information should contact Mr Moulder on 0845 3300 222 or call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

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