No evidence to link Beast of Wombwell with unsolved murder of Rotherham schoolgirl

Peter Pickering
Peter Pickering

Detectives investigating the unsolved murder of a Rotherham schoolgirl say there is no evidence to link her death to the Beast of Wombwell.

Despite similarities between the murder of 13-year-old Anne Dunwell in 1964 and two other schoolgirl deaths both linked to Peter Pickering, detectives have revealed today that there is nothing to pin him to the Rotherham case.

Anne Dunwell was killed in Rotherham

Anne Dunwell was killed in Rotherham

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Pickering, who was known as the 'Beast of Wombwell' and died last month while behind bars for the murder of 14-year-old Shirley Boldy in Barnsley in 1972, was expected to be charged with the unsolved murder of 14-year-old Wakefield girl, Elsie Frost, in 1965.

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He was also due to be 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.

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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 Elsie, who was stabbed as she walked through a railway tunnel in Wakefield.

He was arrested and interviewed over the death before he died and following his death 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 - three or four weeks before he killed Shirley.

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 looked back through 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.

One note written in 1970 said: "Sex is predominant in my mind - eclipsing all else. Maybe I will be a sex maniac proper. Rape, torture, kill."

Rotherham girl Anne Dunwell’s naked body was found at the foot of a manure heap near Maltby on May 7, 1964.

She had been sexually assaulted and strangled with her own stockings.

Anne was returning to her home in Whiston from her aunt's in Bramley on Wednesday, May 6, 1964 when she disappeared after setting off to catch a bus.

Her body was found the next day, off Carr Lane, between the villages of Carr and Slade Hooton.
A South Yorkshire Police spokeswoman said: "At this time there is no evidence to suggest that Peter Pickering was involved in the murder of Anne Dunwell in 1964.

"However he has not been ruled out of the investigation entirely as work remains ongoing and if any new information were to come to light we would of course look in to this."