Brother of murdered schoolgirl thought to have been killed by South Yorkshire man hopes new inquest will 'right wrongs'

The brother of a murdered schoolgirl who is believed to have been killed by a South Yorkshire man said he hopes a new inquest into the death will bring closure and right wrongs.

By Claire Lewis
Friday, 16 August, 2019, 10:07
Elsie Frost

Elsie Frost, aged 14, was stabbed to death in October 1965 as she walked to her home in Wakefield.

During an inquest in 1966, Wakefield man Ian Bernard Spencer was implicated, but he was cleared after a criminal trial was thrown out due to a lack of evidence.

West Yorkshire Police have since said that detectives believe the ‘Beast of Wombwell’ killer Peter Pickering was responsible, but were unable to charge him before he died in March last year.

A new inquest into the death was opened yesterday because of new evidence which has come to light since the original hearing.

Detectives re-opened the case in 2016 and were preparing to charge Pickering, who was a convicted child killer and rapist, when he died while serving time behind bars for the murder of 14-year-old Shirley Boldy in Barnsley in 1972 .

He was also due to have been sentenced for the rape of an 18-year-old Sheffield woman after spending the last few weeks of his life on trial for the historic offence - committed three or four weeks before he killed Shirley.

Shirley was abducted, raped and stabbed to death by Pickering as she was walking to Wombwell High School and detectives 'strongly suspect' that he was responsible for killing Wakefield teenager Elsie.

He was arrested and interviewed over the death before he died and West Yorkshire Police said he was expected to have been charged.

During the last few weeks of his life, Pickering went on trial and was convicted of the rape of a Sheffield woman in the Stocksbridge area in 1972.

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The woman, now in her 60s, was walking to work when Pickering stopped, asked for directions and then attacked her.

The offence came to light when detectives looking into Elsie's death examined records of Pickering's conversations with psychiatrists and found a storage garage he rented in Owlerton, Sheffield, containing possessions including handcuffs and exercise books filled with his rantings.

Elsie Frost's brother Colin, 60, who was six when she was knifed, said: "We're a step closer to knowing what happened to Elsie.

"We've got wrongs to be put right. We just want to get all the information out, so that everyone knows what happened to Elsie."

Senior coroner Kevin McLoughlin paid tribute to the ‘tenacity’ of Mr Frost and his sister Anne Cleave in pursuing a fresh inquest, which is due to be held in November.

Mr Frost said: "We know that we'll never get closure, as closure would be having Elsie here, but at least Anne and I will have pretty much all the answers to whatever happened on that day and can draw a line in the sand."

He added: "Given all the information that West Yorkshire Police have given us - and I'm aware that we've not been given everything and we don't know what we don't know - there's a very compelling set of information, a batch of information, that shows that Pickering did murder Elsie.

"Anne and I are convinced that it was him.

"What we wanted pretty much from the start was for West Yorkshire Police to have their day in the inquest, and to explain what they've learnt and what they've found out, and to make it known to everyone."

He told reporters that he hopes the fresh inquest will help to again exonerate Mr Spencer, whose son Ian Lee Spencer was in court during the opening.

"His family deserve that, we've fought for that", Mr Frost said, adding: "It's not just about Elsie Frost, it's about Ian Spencer and having his name removed from those records."