True Crime: The heartbreaking unsolved murder of beloved pensioner Nora Tait beaten to death in own home

The person responsible for bludgeoning a 69-year-old woman to death in her own home continues to evade justice, almost 18 years on from their wicked, and brutal, crime.
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Nora's brutal murder and inquest findings

Grandmother, Nora Tait was found dead in her home on October 13, 2005, and she is believed to have been killed the day before. Her body was discovered by a close friend in the dining room of her home.

Fish and chips Nora had bought on the day she is believed to have been murdered (October 12, 2005) were found untouched on the dining room table of her home, helping detectives to narrow down the time-frame for when the vicious attack took place.

Grandmother, Nora Tait, was found dead in her home in Stone Close Avenue in the Hexthorpe area of Doncaster on October 13, 2005, and she is believed to have been killed the day beforeGrandmother, Nora Tait, was found dead in her home in Stone Close Avenue in the Hexthorpe area of Doncaster on October 13, 2005, and she is believed to have been killed the day before
Grandmother, Nora Tait, was found dead in her home in Stone Close Avenue in the Hexthorpe area of Doncaster on October 13, 2005, and she is believed to have been killed the day before
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Nora died from head injuries, and no motive for her murder has ever been established.

Over the course of the 18 years that have passed since Nora's death, detectives from South Yorkshire Police have made a number of arrests; and Crimestoppers has previously offered for information leading to the arrest, and conviction of, the killer.

But to this day, no-one has ever been charged with the murder of the beloved pensioner, and her family continue to wait for answers.

The weapon used to attack Nora in her Stone Close Avenue home, in the Hexthorpe area of Doncaster, has never been found. The only item taken from her home was a black leather purse, containing a small amount of money, which has also never been recovered.

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Nora was assaulted with such ferocity that she had severe fractures to her skull, caused by a number of blows to the back of her head.

During her inquest in February 2013, when a conclusion of unlawful killing was recorded, Doncaster Coroners' Court was told Nora is believed to have put up a fight against her attacker, but her efforts to defend herself sadly did not save her, and she died from the head injuries she sustained.

A conclusion of unlawful killing was recorded during Nora's inquest in 2013A conclusion of unlawful killing was recorded during Nora's inquest in 2013
A conclusion of unlawful killing was recorded during Nora's inquest in 2013

As she delivered her conclusion, senior coroner, Nicola Mundy, said there was no evidence to suggest anyone held grievances against Mrs Tait.

The coroner said she thought Mrs Tait ‘wasn't entirely meticulous as to the locking of doors' and added: "I am satisfied there had been times when the door would be unlocked." She added: "I hope this inquest might prompt someone to come to the police, so the person responsible can be brought to justice."

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However, Ms Mundy's hope that news of Nora's death would encourage witnesses to come forward, did not result in anyone being charged with her murder.

Nora's final movements, which were recreated for BBC One's Crimewatch

In the hours before she died, Nora had attended Doncaster Royal Infirmary, and then went shopping in Doncaster town centre.

In the hours before she died, Nora had attended an appointment at Doncaster Royal Infirmary. This CCTV image of Nora was recorded at the hospital, a matter of hours before she was killed In the hours before she died, Nora had attended an appointment at Doncaster Royal Infirmary. This CCTV image of Nora was recorded at the hospital, a matter of hours before she was killed
In the hours before she died, Nora had attended an appointment at Doncaster Royal Infirmary. This CCTV image of Nora was recorded at the hospital, a matter of hours before she was killed

Nora then caught a bus from town to Hexthorpe, arriving there at around 1pm that afternoon.

Before returning to her home, she is believed to have bought fish and chips from Lucky Mei takeaway.

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A full reconstruction of her final movements were broadcast on Crimewatch on BBC One in October 2010, to mark the fifth anniversary of her death.

New inquiry launched on 15th anniversary of Nora's death

On the 15th anniversary of Nora's death on October 13, 2020, South Yorkshire Police launched a fresh inquiry, stating detectives 'remained committed' to finally providing Nora's family with answers, after all these years.

Speaking as the anniversary inquiry was launched, the case’s senior investigating officer, Detective Chief Inspector Mark Oughton said: “Nora was killed in the most horrific circumstances, and 15 years on, we are still very much committed to finding her killer, and bringing some element of closure for her family.

"We have always believed that the answers as to what happened to Nora, and who killed her, lie within the local community.

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“This inquiry has received an incredible amount of support from the public over the years, but I know that people’s allegiances change over time. I am urging anyone who holds information about Nora’s death, that they have never previously shared, to contact us.”

"We have always believed that the answers as to what happened to Nora, and who killed her, lie within the local community"

Detective Chief Inspector Mark Oughton

The force said investigators planned to take 'advantage of advances in scientific techniques to re-examine evidence in Nora’s case for previously undetected traces of DNA'.

DCI Oughton continued: “Advancing DNA technology regularly provides us with new opportunities in cases like this. This has led to successes in other historic investigations and I am hopeful that it will lead to new lines of enquiry here.

“Nora’s family deserve to know what happened to her. If you have any information which you haven’t previously shared, no matter how insignificant, there are a number of ways you can pass this to us. If you don’t feel comfortable speaking to police, you can give information anonymously.”

Most recent statement from Nora's family

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As part of the October 2020 appeal, Nora’s family also issued a statement, which said: “This week marks the 15th anniversary of our mother, grandmother, sister and friend Nora Tait (Watson) being killed in her home in Hexthorpe, Doncaster.“Our mother, who was dearly loved by her friends, family and neighbours was murdered in her home on what could have only seemed like an ordinary day for her.

“She was taken away in the most cruel way, and never being granted the closure that we all deserve only adds to the ongoing pain we all feel.

“As always, we plead that anybody who has any information about her murder come forward. Somebody knows something, has had or overhead a conversation relating to it, and is carrying this with them. It is time to do the right thing and help us close our mother’s case, and finally allow her to rest in peace.”

Nora was 69-years-old when she died. Speaking in 2020, a spokesperson for her family said: “She was taken away in the most cruel way, and never being granted the closure that we all deserve only adds to the ongoing pain we all feel."Nora was 69-years-old when she died. Speaking in 2020, a spokesperson for her family said: “She was taken away in the most cruel way, and never being granted the closure that we all deserve only adds to the ongoing pain we all feel."
Nora was 69-years-old when she died. Speaking in 2020, a spokesperson for her family said: “She was taken away in the most cruel way, and never being granted the closure that we all deserve only adds to the ongoing pain we all feel."

Caller claimed to have information that would help detectives solve case

In October 2015, detectives working on the case said they were keen to speak to a man who had phoned police in March of that year, claiming to have information which could help them solve the case.

In March 2015 South Yorkshire Police received a call from a man who claimed to have information concerning Nora's murder. The man refused to leave information and never called backIn March 2015 South Yorkshire Police received a call from a man who claimed to have information concerning Nora's murder. The man refused to leave information and never called back
In March 2015 South Yorkshire Police received a call from a man who claimed to have information concerning Nora's murder. The man refused to leave information and never called back
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The caller refused to give his name, or leave any contact information, and said he would call back, but he never did.

Mysterious Christmas card

South Yorkshire Police also received a Christmas card in 2009, which read: "To the Nora Tait murder inquiry team, keep up the good work. I might know a litle something or nothing, I will be back in touch after Christmas".

However the potential lead went cold, when the writer never made further contact

'Knock off lad' asked to come forward

At various points in the investigation, most recently in 2015, police have appealed for a man known localled as a 'knock off lad' to come forward.

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He is described as 'white, 5ft 5in to 5'8in, medium build' and was estimated to be aged between 20 and 30 at the time of Nora's death. In the months surrounding the brutal killing, he was said to be selling door-to-door food items including cheese, tea and coffee in the area close to Nora's home. The man said to have short brown hair, was clean shaven with a clear complexion and spoke with a Yorkshire accent. He may have been wearing a long khaki coloured Parker style coat and was known to smoke roll-up cigarettes.

Current status of case

South Yorkshire Police has been asked to provide an update on the current status of the case.

Anyone with information can contact South Yorkshire Police through 101 quoting incident 158 of October 8, 2020. You can also pass information to the incident room directly through itd dedicated online portal – https://mipp.police.uk/operation/14SY19X02-PO1.

To remain completely anonymous, contact the independent charity Crimestoppers via their website Crimestoppers-uk.org or by calling their UK Contact Centre on 0800 555 111.