POLICE HAVE said a convicted child killer and rapist dubbed the Beast of Wombwell, who died last night, is “strongly suspected” of murdering of a 14-year-old Wakefield schoolgirl in the 1960s.
Peter Pickering, 80, was found guilty of the violent rape of an 18-year-old woman in Sheffield more than four decades ago just last week. The attack in June 1972 was thought to have been carried out around four weeks before he raped and stabbed 14-year-old Shirley Boldy to death in Barnsley.
Read more: The Beast of Wombwell found guilty of the violent rape of an 18-year-old woman more than four decades ago
A statement from West Yorkshire Police today said Pickering died last night after being taken ill in secure psychiatric accommodation in Berkshire where he was being held. His death is not being treated as suspicious.
His recent convictions for the South Yorkshire rape came about as a result of a renewed investigation by West Yorkshire Police into the murder of Wakefield schoolgirl Elsie Frost who was killed in 1965.
It is the first time police have confirmed Pickering’s identity in relation to Elsie Frost’s murder - and say they expected him to be charged “in due course”.
Read more: Man, 79, bailed after arrest on suspicion of 1965 murder of schoolgirl Elsie Frost
Detective Superintendent Nick Wallen, of West Yorkshire Police Homicide and Major Enquiry Team, said: “We can now formally confirm that Peter Pickering was the man we arrested and interviewed over the last two years as part of the renewed investigation into the murder of 14-year-old schoolgirl Elsie Frost in Wakefield in 1965.
“We strongly suspected that Peter Pickering was responsible for her murder. We had been liaising with the Crown Prosecution Service and it was our expectation that Pickering would be charged in due course.
“His unexpected death clearly means that will no longer happen. We have informed all those involved in the case of this development and we will be liaising with the West Yorkshire Coroner as to what proceedings are now necessary in relation to Elsie Frost’s death.”
The teenager was attacked from behind and stabbed in the back and head as she walked through a railway tunnel just off a canal towpath in Wakefield in October 1965, but her killer has never been traced.