Wicked Child | The Mary Bell Case, Part Three


(June Richardson with a picture of her son Martin. Photo cred: chroniclelive.co.uk)

Continued from part one and two 

People began to notice how interested Mary and Norma seemed to be in the police's investigations into the deaths of Martin and Brian. Whenever there was a police conference where they would update the locals on what was happening with their investigations, Mary Bell always seemed to be upfront and centre and listening like her life depended on it. People thought this was strange behaviour for a young girl but the people who really knew Mary started to have ideas that she may have been involved with the deaths due to her previous erratic behaviour, penchant for strangling other children at school and her explosive temper.

The police started to receive phone calls about Mary and Norma from concerned locals, they advised the police to look into the pair and told them of Mary's behaviour with the kids at school.

The police wanted to talk to Mary but when they arrived at her house, Billy threatened to set his dog on the officers if they didn't leave. According to some sources (this may or may not be true), Mary was said to have sat on her father's knee in front of the officers and said ''Send for my lawyer''  

The police got a big break when a couple came to the police station with their son who claimed to have seen Mary and Norma murder Brian Howe. The boy, who was nine years old, had learning difficulties and the mental age of a four year old. As he witnessed the murder taking place he didn't realise at the time what was actually happening until it all became clear when he told his parents about it later on. The boy told the police that Mary had said that Brian had a sore throat and she needed to massage it better. As she massaged the boy's throat she tightened her grip till the boy passed away due to lack of oxygen to the brain. The police wasted no time in bringing Mary and Norma in for questioning. The girls were questioned during the day and were taken into care at night so they were kept away from each other as well as family.

School teachers were contacted as the police wanted to check out Mary and Norma's handwriting to compare with the notes found at the nursery. At this same time, the teachers handed over the short story and drawing that Mary had done about Martin Brown's death. The police had noticed straight away that Mary had included the word 'tablet' next to Martin's body in the drawing, a detail which had not been released to the public. The police were confident that they had the right children in custody and both Mary and Norma were arrested in early August 1968 and charged with both murders.

Four months later their trial began and they both pleaded their innocence and blamed each other for the murders. Norma looked like she was in way over her head and appeared to struggle with everything that was happening, Mary on the other hand, appeared confident, no remorse or emotion until she was asked if she had ever strangled a pigeon to death to which she became hysterical. The trial had to be briefly paused as Mary was crying uncontrollably and would not calm down.

During the trial, Mary would show no emotion the majority of the time but if she was upset, she would be very over dramatic. She claimed to have left the notes at the nursery for a bit of a laugh and said that she made up the things that she had written. Mary had been examined by various psychiatrists who all came to the same conclusion that she was a psychopath.

Norma Bell was acquitted on the grounds that she had learning difficulties and therefore the court believed that she had no idea what she was getting herself into and that she was frightened of Mary and controlled by her. Some people speculated later that Norma played the part of the easily led, vulnerable girl as an attempt to escape justice and that she knew exactly what she was doing.

Mary was found guilty but not of murder, she was found guilty of manslaughter. The court deemed her psychologically insane and because of her age (she was 10 when the first murder took place and was now 11 years old) it was decided that she would be better of being rehabilitated rather than punished as she was still a child and too young to be placed in a Psychiatric hospital. She was sent to a boarding school and surprisingly her mother was a regular visitor, their relationship remained very strained with Mary writing a letter to her mother at one point, begging her to go to court and take full responsibility for the deaths of the two boys. Mary felt that if it wasn't for the way her mother treated her, the murders would never have happened and she had a lot of anger over what happened to her as a child. Mary placed the blame of the murders onto her mother and felt that she should take the blame so that she could be released and be free.

Over the years since the murders, Betty became an alcoholic. She was a nervous wreck and would rarely leave the house. There wasn't much sympathy for her and some felt that all she cared about was herself and how she appeared as the mother of Mary Bell. Betty seemed to have no shame either as she would give interviews to newspapers and sell Mary's letters and drawings for cash.

Some years passed and Mary was soon sent to an open prison but escaped when she was 20 years old. She was quickly found and continued her sentence/rehabilitation. In 1980, after serving 12 years she was released under an new identity.

In a chilling twist to the story, Mary gave birth to a baby daughter in 1984 on the 16th anniversary of the day she murdered Martin Brown. Mary had her daughter's identity protected but the order was only for 18 years. When Mary's daughter was 18, a journalist managed to find out where they were living, up until this point Mary had not told her daughter of her past. They both had to leave the house during the night with sheets over their heads and it was around that time that she told her daughter the truth of her past. Mary managed to get her daughter's identity protected for life. In 2001, Mary became a grandmother at the age of 51 and her granddaughter was also granted life long anonymity.

Not much is known about what happened to Norma in the years after the trial but she passed away in 1989.

I couldn't find much information about Brian Howe's family, they have remained private over the years. June Richardson, Martin's mother had also keep herself and her family out of the public eye and only spoke out after it was revealed that Mary had been paid £50,000 for a book that an author by the name of Gitta Sereny had written about the case based on interviews she had with Mary. The book, which has gotten some positive reviews on Amazon, is apparently in Mary's own words about her childhood and the abuse that she suffered through her mother's prostitution and neglect as well as the murders of the two boys..

June was outraged about the book and said that murderers should not be able to profit off of their crimes and called Mary's payment for the book ''blood money''. June sadly died in April 2013 at the age of 68 due to lung cancer. She never got over her son's death and in the late stages of her illness she spoke of being reunited with Martin to ''build sandcastles in the sky''  

June's daughter, Sharon said in a newspaper interview (on her mother hearing that Mary had given birth 16 years to the day her son was murdered) ''That hurt her more than Mary Bell coming out of prison. She said she would always be celebrating while she was mourning the loss of her son.''

As of 2019, due to the lifelong anonymity order, Mary Bell's whereabouts are unknown but has said to have been out of trouble and lived a relatively quiet life since her release.


As I mentioned at the beginning of my coverage of this case, I knew bits and pieces of the story. I didn't know anything about Mary's background or that she had been abused. I did have an idea that something traumatic must have happened to her for her to commit such terrible crimes. I do feel sympathy for what she went through at home, she didn't really have a chance from the start and struck me that she was a very traumatised child who was acting out. I do feel conflicted as she had no remorse and was happy to take £50,000 which showed to me that she still didn't care what sort of impact that would have on her victim's families. If you murdered someone as a child due to a traumatic upbringing but was later rehabilitated you'd think that she would have realised that collaborating on a book and taking money was in poor taste and disrespectful to the victims and their families. Can a child who murders be fully rehabilitated? I'm not sure of the answer to this question. I think about the James Bulger murder at the hands of two 10 year old boys which happened 25 years after this case, that case caused outrage and still does to this day with some people at the time, calling for the boys to be hanged. Years after the case when the murderers were said to be fully rehabilitated, one of them was found with thousands of child abuse pictures on his laptop and sent back to jail.

Mary Bell and Norma didn't receive the anger and outrage from the public that the James Bulger killers did, there wasn't as much publicity or media attention and a lot of people put it down to children being neglected and the poor living conditions that the people of Newcastle were forced to live in at the time.

It's a disturbing case and I still cannot believe that Mary was paid £50,000 to talk about the murders that she committed. What are your thoughts on this case? leave a comment below or come find me on social media and we'll chat about it. Thanks as always for checking out my recent case. I'll be back next week with a another one.


Further reading & sources:



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Check out some of the true crime cases I have covered previously:

What Really Happened To India Chipchase?

The Sylvia Likens Case

The Tragic Life & Death of Marvin Gaye

The Camden Ripper: Anthony John Hardy

Deadly Obsession: The Ricardo Lopez Story

Targeted: The Kriss Donald Story

-Toxic Relationship: The Tracie Andrews Story

Stalked To Death: The Alissa Blanton Story

Rod Ferrell And The Kentucky Vampire Cult

What Happened To Dominique Dunne?




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Wicked Child | The Mary Bell Case, Part Two

(A street in Scotswood, Newcastle in the 1960s. Photo cred: chroniclelive.co.uk)

Continued from part one. As mentioned previously, please be aware that this post may contain details of child abuse and child murder.

Because of Mary's intimidating and often aggressive demeanour, there wasn't exactly a queue of children who wanted to be around her but she did become close friends with the girl next door, Norma Joyce Bell (no relation). Norma was a couple of years older than Mary and was quite lonely as well as having some learning difficulties. Norma was quite naive and very easily led which made her perfect in Mary's eyes because she loved to be the leader and Norma did pretty much anything that she said.

Despite Mary's neglectful parents and the abuse she suffered at home, she was very bright for her age and very streetwise. She was very manipulative and often played on the fact that she was a child to get out of trouble. She was quite capable of causing trouble all by herself but in Norma she found an accomplice, someone she could order around and she wanted to try something new. In May 1968, 10 year old Mary and 12 year old Norma asked a local three year old boy if he would like to go to the shop with them to buy some sweets. The same boy was seen about an hour later, bleeding and disorientated and had to be taken to the hospital. The boy made a full recovery but no further action was taken. 

Around the same time, the police had a report from a local woman who claimed that Mary had tried to strangle her daughter and again, no further action was taken. Years later, the girl who had been strangled said that she was too afraid to give the police the full details of what had happened in case Mary had found out. In a documentary, the girl who was now a fully grown woman, claimed that she, Mary and Norma were playing in a sandpit when Mary suddenly turned on her. Norma held her down whilst Mary tried to strangle her and then proceeded to shove handfuls of sand down her throat. Apparently Norma became scared seeing what Mary was doing and jumped up, Mary then stopped and stood up and she managed to get away from the pair.

Two weeks after this incident, four year old Martin Brown was out playing in the street as he usually did. Martin looked like a cherub with blonde curly hair, blue eyes and really long eyelashes, he was tall for his age and well built and according to his mother June, he was always into mischief and had a cheeky face. At home one day he decided that he wanted his own personal swimming pool in his bedroom so he filled a bottom drawer full of water and got water all over the place. His mother said he was always getting up to things like that. 

Like the other local children, Martin loved to play in the abandoned buildings which the locals had nicknamed ''Rat Alley'' and it was in one of the derelict houses that Martin's body was found by some local boys in an upstairs bedroom. The boys ran to June's house and told her where Martin was, June ran to the house where she saw a huge crowd of people gathering. There was a man coming out of the building holding Martin in his arms and crying. 

''This guy had Martin in his hands and he was grey and he felt cold so I took my cardigan off and put it around him and this man had tears running down his face and I said 'Is he alright?' He said 'I don't know, I don't know' and at that, two ambulance men just rushed past and grabbed him and ran past us again and put him into the ambulance,'' - June Richardson (Martin's mother) 

Martin was pronounced dead on arrival at the local hospital and because of the circumstances in which his body was found, the police were contacted. Nobody could figure out what had happened to Martin, some thought that he had accidentally swallowed some tablets, others thought that he had died of shock as he had a fear of stairs and possibly panicked at the idea of having to go back down them. What was even more strange was that the autopsy results showed nothing untoward and his death was put down to natural causes. 

The day after Martin's death, Mary was at Norma's house when Norma's father walked into her bedroom to find Mary choking his daughter. He pulled the girls apart and gave them a lecture. He didn't think any more about it.

The next day the police were called to a local nursery which had been broken into. Nothing appeared to be stolen but they found four random notes. The notes appeared to be written in childish handwriting and amongst ramblings contained the sentences ''I murder so that I may come back'', ''We murder, watch out'' and ''We did murder Martin Brown, F*ck off you b*stard''. 

The police put the notes down to a silly prank. Mary was at school when the police had discovered the notes, she wrote a short story about Martin's death and drew a picture underneath. ''There were crowds of people outside an old house, I asked what was the matter? There's been a boy who just laid down and died.'' 

Underneath the short story she drew a picture of Martin's body lying on the floor of the upstairs bedroom in the abandoned house. She drew a workman walking towards the building and next to Martin's body she drew a bottle with the word 'tablet' next to it. Apparently Mary's teachers didn't find the story and the drawing until weeks later.

June Richardson's sister would often babysit Mary and Norma so she would often seen them and they would always ask her how she was doing, June thought the constant questions were out of concern for her, but one day, before Martin's funeral was due to take place, Mary and Norma appeared on June's doorstep. They asked to see Martin which confused June as she knew that they knew he had died. When she reminded the girls of Martin's passing, Mary replied ''I know he's dead. I want to see him in his coffin.'' 

June slammed the door shut and fell to the ground sobbing, her husband had to call a doctor to the house to help calm her down. 

At the same time, Newcastle itself was in the middle of a huge redevelopment and a lot of the worst areas were being demolished to make way for high rise housing. On the 31st of July, Mary, Norma and some of the local children had gathered to watch some of the abandoned buildings being demolished. It was here that they asked a three year old boy called Brian Howe to come to a field with them to play there. Hours passed and Brian was nowhere to be seen and was reported missing.

Some of the locals together with Brian's mother, searched the streets and surrounding areas. Mary and Norma joined the search and seemed to be enjoying the whole thing. Sadly, Brian's body was discovered in a field, half naked, chunks of his hair had been cut off and there was stab wounds to his legs which were said to have been made postmortem (after death), using the scissors which were used to cut his hair. A razor had been used to carve the letter 'M' onto his stomach. Brian's death was ruled as a result of manual strangulation and because of how little force was used, the police finally came to the conclusion that a child must have killed him by using gradual pressure to his neck.

Due to Brian's shocking murder and the similarities with the death of Martin Brown, the police decided to re-open the investigation into Martin Brown's death. Now ruling Martin's death to be a result of homicide, the police were now looking for a suspect and the likely possibility that this suspect was a child.

Continued in part three...


If you enjoy my content and this latest post and you would like to donate a coffee to me, you can do so here

You can find me on Instagram or twitter

Keep up to date with my weekly true crime posts & more by subscribing to my blog via your email on my Home page or by following me on Bloglovin

Check out some of the true crime cases I have covered previously:

What Really Happened To India Chipchase?

The Sylvia Likens Case

The Tragic Life & Death of Marvin Gaye

The Camden Ripper: Anthony John Hardy

Deadly Obsession: The Ricardo Lopez Story

Targeted: The Kriss Donald Story

-Toxic Relationship: The Tracie Andrews Story

Stalked To Death: The Alissa Blanton Story

Rod Ferrell And The Kentucky Vampire Cult

What Happened To Dominique Dunne?




Keep up to date with my latest posts on: @CaledonianTweet & Bloglovin  

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Wicked Child | The Mary Bell Case, Part One

(Top right hand corner, Mary Bell, Norma Bell. Bottom left: Martin Brown and Brian Howe. Photo cred: murderpedia.org

Hello to all my regular readers and welcome if you are new to my posts, I hope you enjoy my content and decide to stick around, I publish true crime cases every week. I wrote about a case from the 1960s recently (Gertrude Baniszewski: The Most Evil Woman Ever?) which took place in the US and the case that I have been working on this week also took place in the 1960s but this time this case was based in the UK.

A lot of people have heard bits and pieces of the Mary Bell story. I remember watching a documentary years ago which touched on her case and her story always intrigued me. I grew up on a council estate where a lot of people didn't have much money and a lot of the people that I went to school with ended up turning to crime. When I was researching this case some of the details rang a bell with me (no pun intended). I know from experience what it's like to grow up in poverty and being unsupervised as a child, playing in abandoned buildings, being careful to put your washing out to dry in case it got stolen. A lot of the children that I knew had alcoholic parents and they would be left out to play until all hours of the night, those children then went onto commit petty crimes, became dependent on drugs and some have even murdered people and ended up behind bars.

I only knew a little bit about Mary Bell and I've had the chance this week to really delve into her background (which a lot of people don't know about) and find out more about the story, what may have led her to do what she did, what actually happened and her life since then.

Before we begin, just a reminder that you can now find me on Instagram at: @KittysOnTheCase as well as twitter etc (see links at the end of the post). If you enjoy my content, please consider donating a coffee to me for a small fee here

I just want to quickly mention here, as with all of my previous posts, please be aware that disturbing details may be included. In this case I will be talking about child abuse and murder, so please keep that in mind in case you want to skip this post.

Let's begin...

When I mention the name, Mary Bell, you may have the image of a little girl with black hair and piercing blue eyes in your mind. A lot of us who know a little of the case, are familiar with the haunting pictures of Mary, innocent but something so cold and sinister about her at the same time.

If you're a regular reader you'll know that I like to go into the backgrounds of victims and their killers. I try to give you an idea of who the victim was and not just what happened to them when their lives were so cruelly taken. I also like to focus on the background of the killer, often you can see patterns and behaviours in their childhood, but that isn't always the case. Some killers have a picture perfect childhood and can still go on to do horrendous things.

Mary Flora Bell was born on the 26th of May, 1957 to a young mother, Betty. Betty was only 17 years old and to say she wasn't maternal is an understatement, her first words when she was presented with her newborn child was ''Get that thing away from me.'' The identity of Mary's father was never known but her mother went onto have a relationship with a man called Billy who was an unsavoury character. Billy was an alcoholic and well known to police.

Mary Bell's start in life was quite horrendous, with two neglectful parents, one who was often in trouble with the law and the other who was a prostitute and they would often disappear for weeks on end, leaving Mary to fend for herself. Depending on what source you read, Betty's family either tried to step in and offer to take care of Mary or Betty's family refused to take care of Mary. Whatever the case, she was left unsupervised on many occasions and starved of love and affection from her parents.

As well as having a difficult home life, the Scotswood area in the west end of Newcastle, England where Mary grew up was very harsh and the living was hard with many families struggling to make ends meet. In the 1960s, Scotswood had barely changed since the war and a lot of the houses and buildings were left abandoned. Mary wasn't the only child who was left to play outside until all hours, unsupervised, it was commonplace for children as young as three years old to be found playing in the streets. There was a mix of neglect and naivety amongst the parents, they were either too drunk to care, dealing with customers if they were working as prostitutes or they assumed that the children would be safe and that the older kids would keep an eye on them.

Back in those days, abandoned buildings would be left for years and children would often explore them. I remember doing this myself as a child and finding it interesting and exciting, like a little adventure. Looking back I can see how dangerous that actually was, some of these buildings have loose tiles and weak floorboards, anything could happen.

The street that Mary lived on was particularly bad with every other house reported to have had women working as prostitutes and the husbands would be in the pubs until closing time. Seeing the police banging on the door of someones house in the street became a regular occurrence and many of the families were well known to the cops.

The majority of the local people in Scotswood struggled financially and only had little bits of furniture in their houses. People would keep coal in their kitchen instead of outside in the bunkers for fear of it being stolen. They would also dry their clothes indoors in case that too was stolen. The only positive thing about the whole dire situation was that everyone was in the same boat, there was no competition, nobody showing off their fancy belongings because nobody had anything. Everyone understood each others problems because they were going through the same hardships and it was one of those places where everyone knew everyone.


Betty never wanted to be a mother and not only did she regularly give Mary sleeping tablets, she once tried to throw her out of a window, claiming it was an accident. On one occasion with the sleeping tablets, Mary was said to have 'accidently' consumed too many and became very sick.

Like a lot of women who lived in the area, Mary's mother worked as a prostitute, 7 days a week and specialised in BDSM. If Betty wasn't working from home, she was travelling up to Glasgow for weeks on end and from the age of four, Mary, who was sometimes present in the house when her mother had gentlemen callers, was forced to perform sex acts on these men.

Due to the nature of the horrendous things that Mary would have had to witness her mother doing in her line of work, investigators later believed that this is where Mary picked up her habits and tried to re-enact on other children as a way of gaining some control as she felt powerless at home.

As Mary got older, she garnered a reputation as someone not to be messed with. Although she looked angelic with her black hair, doll like face and piercing blue eyes, she could go from being a sweet little girl just happily playing to aggressive within seconds. The piercing blue eyes would fix you with a cold stare and her head would shake, according to witnesses. The girls in the playground would run away if they saw her coming and they dared not to get on the wrong side of her.

Mary was a bully and would pick on children she thought were smaller or weaker than her, she enjoyed the power over them. There was many a time where her classmates would tell the teacher that Mary tried to strangle them or put a cigarette out on their cheek, Mary would be called in and without any hesitation she would confess without a flinch, like she had no feelings about it at all. The teachers knew of Mary's behaviour and did nothing about it.

On one occasion, Mary had her hands around another girl's throat. The girl's face was red and her lips were starting to turn blue. An older child pulled Mary off of the girl just in time but again. nothing was done about this incident.

Continued in part two...


If you enjoy my content and this latest post and you would like to donate a coffee to me, you can do so here

You can find me on Instagram or twitter

Keep up to date with my weekly true crime posts & more by subscribing to my blog via your email on my Home page or by following me on Bloglovin

Check out some of the true crime cases I have covered previously:

What Really Happened To India Chipchase?

The Sylvia Likens Case

The Tragic Life & Death of Marvin Gaye

The Camden Ripper: Anthony John Hardy

Deadly Obsession: The Ricardo Lopez Story

Targeted: The Kriss Donald Story

-Toxic Relationship: The Tracie Andrews Story

Stalked To Death: The Alissa Blanton Story

Rod Ferrell And The Kentucky Vampire Cult

What Happened To Dominique Dunne?




Keep up to date with my latest posts on: @CaledonianTweet & Bloglovin  

My personal twitter page where I share my latest posts and everyday general stuff: @CaledonianKitty 

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For all enquiries and collaborations, please contact: caledoniankblog@yahoo.co.uk

What Really Happened To India Chipchase?

(India Chipchase. Photo credit: telegraph.co.uk

It's that time of the week again where I bring you a true crime case you may not have heard about before or you've heard of but don't know the full details. I decided this week to cover the murder of India Chipchase. Sadly, not many people know about this case or the real details of what happened to India, so I thought I would bring you her story here. It's important to remember that India wasn't just the victim of a horrific crime, she was a person who had hopes, dreams, talents and family who loved her. I hope that I can shed some light on who India was as a person in this post.

Before we begin, I have opened up a new Instagram account: @KittysOnTheCase where I post various stuff to do with my life, true crime, cases that I'm working on etc. Also, if you enjoy my weekly true crime posts, please consider donating a coffee to me for a small fee here to help with my research and maintaining my blog.


Let's begin...


India Chipchase could have been a supermodel, that was one of the things that came into my mind when I first saw her picture. The camera just loved her with her long dark hair, stunning features and blue eyes. She could have been anything that she wanted to be but she had her heart set on helping people in the medical profession, like her father. India was born on Christmas Eve in 1995 to Suzanne and Jeremy. She had two sisters and a brother who she was very close too.

India loved having a birthday on Christmas Eve. She was like a lot of young women, into fashion, socialising with friends, taking selfies on nights out, girly holidays and she loved One Direction, Justin Bieber, Olly Murs and Robbie Williams. As part of my research, I read a lot of her tweets, to me she came across as someone who was fiercely protective of her family, kind hearted, loved a good party and was a bit of a joker. I found myself smiling and laughing at some of the things she said and thought to myself that she must have been such a fun person to be around.


Here's some of India's tweets:


- ''After Saturday night, I do not want to look at my bank balance.''

- ''It's always a great feeling when a baby grabs onto your hair and won't let go.''

- ''I love making pedestrians smile when I'm driving in my car, singing along to 'because I'm happy''.

- ''Just watched a car spin round a roundabout, go up a curb. Pulled over, got out the car to make sure driver ok, that's my good deed of the day.''

- ''My high score at Flappy Birds is 0.''

India was so excited when she passed her driving test and joked about not having to take buses anymore. She was so popular and had many male and female friends, some she had known since childhood. Due to her stunning looks she often turned heads wherever she went. Whilst she was working towards her medical career, she had a job as a barmaid and had a great relationship with her boyfriend. India was one of those girls who seemed to have it all but she wasn't big headed, she cared about other people and had a big heart.

India had not long turned 20 years old in the December of 2015 and on the 30th of January she and some friends decided to go out for a few drinks at a nightclub as they normally would. The night went well and the drinks flowed, being young and not really pacing themselves, it wasn't long till India and her friends were a bit merry. At some point India and her friends got split up amongst the crowds. India ended up outside of the club but was trying to find her friends whilst her friends were inside looking for her, after a while they assumed that she had just gone home.

As India stood outside the club, the doormen would not let her back in as they thought she was too drunk. She was stood outside for a while and was caught on CCTV cameras, looking at her phone as if she was trying to send or read messages. A bald headed man was seen approaching her and the pair seemed to be having a conversation. The man was called Edward Tenniswood and he was 52 years old, he asked her if she had been kicked out of the nightclub too. Edward claimed that India was upset and was complaining about her ''so called friends'' who were still in the club.

''I just felt sorry for her. I'm a tactile person and I sort of put my arm around her in a parental way. I kind of said 'I'm sure everything is going to be fine'. I was just thinking, India, calm down and stop crying because this is upsetting me. I said to her 'Well you know, I'm going to get a lift home and drink at my place and you are very welcome to come if you want to.''

(CCTV footage of outside the nightclub on the 30th of January 2016. India Chipchase is seen facing away from Edward Tenniswood. Photo credit: express.co.uk

Edward Tenniswood then claimed that India looked up at him and gave him a ''half smile'' after he suggested they go back to his place. What really happened was that Edward asked her if she was ok and said that he would help her get a taxi safely.

India, being a bit worse for wear was probably thinking that this man who was a lot older, was trustworthy and felt that there was no harm in sharing a taxi.

The CCTV cameras recorded India walking to a taxi with Edward and getting in. Edward or ''Eddie'' as he preferred to be called, gave the taxi driver a different address to the one in which he lived at. He wanted to be dropped off a little bit away from his actual home so that the taxi driver would not know where he lived. At that moment, or maybe before they got in the taxi, he knew what he was going to do that night.

The taxi driver could see that India was drunk and Edward appeared to be sober, it's unknown what he said to her or how he managed to get her to get out of the car at his stop but neighbours saw him helping India into his house.

The neighbours always thought he was strange and a bit of an ''oddball''. He'd once had a fight with a neighbour and put his hands around the man's neck because he wouldn't go for a drink with him. He wasn't married or had any children and had been living at his rented house on Stanley road in Northampton for about five years and worked as a bookkeeper.

What was later discovered was that Edward Tenniswood had a severe case of OCD, his squalid house which had no heating or carpets, was covered in dust sheets. He had pictures and newspaper clippings of various women and was said to have had an obsession with the girl group, Little Mix. He was so frightened of germs that he covered his laptop in cling film and still wore rubber gloves when using it.

(Inside Edward Tenniswood's home. Photo credit: newslocker.com


Once India was inside of his home, Edward claimed that they had a few drinks and shared some jokes. At some point, he claimed that India fell and hurt her head but was ok and came onto him. He said that they had loving sex but he was too ''overeager'' and she passed out after he accidentally put his hands around her neck too tightly during intercourse.

Investigators later discovered after India's autopsy and examining the scene, what most likely happened was that India freaked out when she sobered up and found herself in Edward's creepy looking house and tried to leave. Edward didn't let that happen, he raped and strangled India before carefully placing her on a mattress, fully clothed. He cuddled up to her body for a while and then arranged her hair above her head like a halo. He then placed a sheet over her body and went to a local hotel for a few drinks.

Whilst this horrendous murder was happening, India's boyfriend had been calling her phone non-stop trying to find out where she was as everyone was worried. The next day police tracked India's phone to Edward Tenniswood's address and they discovered her body.

India had over 30 injuries and Edward's blood was found underneath one of her finger nails. She had bruising to her forehead and cheek, cuts to the inside of her cheek and lip. There was a cut above her right ear as well as bruising and scratches to her neck. She also suffered from blunt force trauma to her head and bruising to both hips.


Three hours later, Edward was found at the hotel. He was in the lounge watching television and when the police appeared he said ''You know who I am - Edward. I'm surprised you were so quick. It didn't take you long to find me. I suppose you've been to the house, you've found what you're looking for.''

When he was arrested, police noticed that he had scratch marks on his face, friction marks on his legs and scratch marks to the left side of his neck where India had tried to fight him off.

After Edward (who claimed to have drank 3 bottles of wine a day) was arrested, the press had reported that he had been arrested for sexual assault just days before India's murder. He had been out on bail.

He had been questioned over a 2005 sexual assault which he had been linked to but despite several failed attempts, was not arrested until the 18th of January 2016.

Just days after his arrest, it was reported that three people came forward who had previously suffered violence at the hands of Edward Tenniswood. One of the women said that he tried to throttle her and another one said that he put his hands around her neck when she was trying to get away from him.

At the murder trial, Edward claimed that he and India had consensual sex and spoke about her like he had known her for years. He made a lot of strange comments and told the court that he had dated a lot of beautiful women including a famous fashion model (who said that she'd never met him before in her life). He said that he collected pictures of women who looked like his ex-girlfriends and that these pictures were his ornaments. He had pictures in his house of a model who he claimed was an ex, that bore a striking resemblance to India.

''I've had some extremely attractive ex-girlfriends, is that a crime?'' - Edward Tenniswood

He told the court that he and India ''just clicked'' when they met and snapped his fingers in the witness box for effect.

When asked about the pictures of the girl group, Little Mix, Edward responded ''That's Little Mix, I'm probably going to get sued by Little Mix now. If you want to say they're attractive then yes, they are attractive, although they are actually quite plain, but the photographer did a fantastic job of it.'' 

Prosecutor Chris Donnellan QC asked ''You have a 20 year old drunk girl in a taxi, what are you going to do when you get back to your house?''

Edward replied ''I hadn't actually thought forensically about what I was going to do. I just wanted to get home, have a drink. She was a drinking companion.''

When asked about leaving the house after killing India, he said ''I wish I had left a note that said 'India darling, I will be back in 20 minutes, love Eddie''

After a two week trial, the jury took one hour and forty-five minutes to convict Edward Tenniswood for the rape and murder of India Chipchase.

The judge said ''This was a terrible crime. It was committed because the defendant was determined to satisfy his own sexual desires on an attractive and much younger woman. It was a crime of utter depravity.''

Edward was sentenced to life imprisonment with a minimum of 30 years. When he was sent to prison, he complained to his legal team that he was getting death threats from other prisoners and was in fear for his life. His lawyer said ''He hasn't slept. The level of threat is very serious. He's not the largest person and is very vulnerable.''

Up to the present day, threats continue to be made against Edward Tenniswood who will be 82 years old when he can be first considered for parole.

(Right: India Chipchase. Left: Police outside of Edward Tenniswood's house where India's body was found. Photo credit: telegraph.co.uk

Everyone who knew India was devastated by her death, more than 100 bouquets of flowers were left outside of her place of work and her colleagues raised more than £3000 to help her family.

Her funeral took place in March 2016. India was cremated but other details are unknown, the service was kept very private.

Her mother later spearheaded a safeguarding scheme ''Northampton Guardians'' which aims to protect women when they are out on the town. Volunteers patrol the streets to protect vulnerable women who may be on their own.

India's mother said that she will never recover from her daughter's savage murder and her father said ''Whatever happened that night and whatever stories are told, the fact is, our daughter was murdered.'' 


As with all the cases I've covered, this was such a sad case, India had everything to live for and it's frightening to know that there's people out there who are like Edward Tenniswood. It seemed to me that he lived in a fantasy land and became infatuated with India when he saw her. Instead of admiring her beauty from afar or just having a quick conversation, he saw a sick opportunity to take advantage of a young, vulnerable girl. Most of us have gotten drunk when we were younger, out on the town and sometimes you ended up sharing a taxi with someone else who was in the queue. India was a regular nightclubber so she probably thought that this was just another case of sharing a taxi. I don't believe that she went back to his house willingly, she must have been so out of it and didn't have full control of what she was doing.

It must have been terrifying when she realised where she was, inside his house. What a horrible and tragic end to a beautiful and gifted girl's life. It just goes to show, you have to be very careful who you trust, no matter how much older and wiser they may seem to you and always stay with friends and in public places until you get a taxi (proper licensed cab) to take you home.

I can just imagine Edward Tenniswood in his cell, collecting more newspaper clippings of women and sticking them up on the wall. A lot of people in prison know what he did and it'll only be a matter of time until someone gets a hold of him.

RIP India.

Thank you for taking the time to read my latest case, what are your thoughts? Let me know in the comments below or tweet me x


Further reading & sources:

India Chipchase - Twitter
India Chipchase Murderer - Mirror Newspaper Article
Edward Tenniswood's home - Daily Mail Article
Northampton Guardians
Edward Tenniswood Jailed - BBC Article
India Chipchase Murder - The Guardian Article


If you enjoy my content and this latest post and you would like to donate a coffee to me, you can do so here

 Let's be friends on Instagram, you can now find me at: @KittysOnTheCase

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Keep up to date with my weekly true crime posts & more by subscribing to my blog via your email on my Home page or by following me on Bloglovin

Check out some of the true crime cases I have covered previously:

The Sylvia Likens Case

The Tragic Life & Death of Marvin Gaye

The Camden Ripper: Anthony John Hardy

Deadly Obsession: The Ricardo Lopez Story

Targeted: The Kriss Donald Story

-Toxic Relationship: The Tracie Andrews Story

Stalked To Death: The Alissa Blanton Story

Rod Ferrell And The Kentucky Vampire Cult

What Happened To Dominique Dunne?




Keep up to date with my latest posts on: @CaledonianTweet & Bloglovin  

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The Most Evil Woman Ever? | Gertrude Baniszewski: Part four

(The mattress in the bedroom where the police found Sylvia's body. Photo credit: murderpedia.org

Continued from part three...

As I mentioned in parts one, two and three, please be aware that this post contains some disturbing content.

In one of her sick games, Gertrude told Sylvia that she could sleep upstairs again if she could learn to control her bladder during the night. She instructed John, Coy and Stephanie to tie her up so that she couldn't get up to go to the bathroom during the night. Gertrude said to her ''You can't go to the bathroom until you've learnt not to wet the bed.''

The poor girl had wet the bed during the night and the next morning she was dragged into the living room and forced to perform a strip tease in front of Gertrude's sons and some of the neighbourhood kids again. She was also forced to put a Cocoa Cola bottle up her vagina again. In the middle of all of this, Stephanie walked in and slapped Sylvia across the face.

Gertrude suddenly announced to Sylvia, ''You have branded my daughters so I will have to brand you.'' 

Sylvia was tied down and gagged and Hobbs was told to tattoo her. Gertrude heated a sewing needle till it was orange and carved ''I'' and part of an ''M'' into Sylvia's stomach. She ordered Ricky Hobbs to finish the job. He started carving but stopped and asked Gertrude how to spell ''Prostitute'' so she wrote it down for him and he continued. Sylvia now had ''I'm a prostitute and proud of it'' carved into her stomach. Ricky, Paula and 10 year old Shirley decided they wanted to put something on Sylvia's chest. They decided to go with an ''S'' and Rick carved the first half and told Jenny to do the rest to which she refused so Shirley took over. Shirley carved the wrong way and the 'S'' ended up looking like a ''3''.

Gertrude returned and began to mock Sylvia in front of her little gang, Randy Lepper, Shirley, Ricky, and Jenny.

 ''What are you going to do now Sylvia? You can't get married now. You can't undress in front of anyone. What are you going to do now?'' 

Sylvia responded to Gertrude and said ''I guess there's nothing I can do. It's on there.''

When they all left, Sylvia was left alone in the basement where she was kept for most of the time. Her sister visited her during the night and on this occasion she told Jenny, ''Jenny, I know you don't want me to die but I'm going to die, I can tell.''

Shortly after this, Gertrude brought Sylvia upstairs and allowed her to sleep in one of the bedrooms. Stephanie and Gertrude gave her a warm bath rather than the usual boiling hot one. After this, Gertrude told her that she was going to write a letter to her parents. As Gertrude dictated, Sylvia wrote down what she said onto the piece of paper.

To Mr and Mrs Likens.

I went off with a gang of boys in the middle of the night and they said that they would pay me if I gave them something. So I got in the car and they all got what they wanted and when they were finished, they beat me up and left sores on my face and all over my body.

And they also put on my stomach, I am a prostitute and proud of it.

I have done just about everything I could to make Gertie mad and cost Gertie more than she's got. I tore up a new mattress and peed on it. I have also cost Gertie doctor bills that she really can't pay and made Gertie a nervous wreck and all her kids.

For some reason, Gertrude didn't ask Sylvia to sign the letter but it was clear that she had a feeling that Sylvia was coming to the end of her life as she was growing even more weaker by the day.

Sylvia overheard Gertrude making plans to have her dumped in a waste lot to be left to die. She ordered John Jr and Jenny to carry this out. Sylvia panicked and tried to escape but being too weak and not having much energy, Gertrude got a hold of her. 

Sylvia was dragged to the kitchen where she was offered a piece of dry toast, when she refused and said that she couldn't swallow properly, Gertrude took down a curtain rod and beat her on the mouth with it. John Jr was ordered to take her back down to the basement and tie her up.

A short while later, Gertrude came down to the basement with some crackers. Sylvia refused them and said ''Give it to the dog, it's hungrier than I am.'' Gertrude then punched Sylvia several times in the stomach before leaving the basement. 

On the 24th of October, Gertrude and John Jr both beat Sylvia. Gertrude threw a chair at her but it broke against the wall so she tried to hit her with the paddle but ended up hitting herself in the face. Coy Hubbard then stepped in and beat Sylvia unconscious with a broomstick.

During the night up until 3 am, the neighbours later told the police that they heard a scrapping sound coming from the Baniszewski basement. It was Sylvia using the scoop end of a shovel in an attempt to attract attention from the neighbours. None of the neighbours contacted the police.

On the 26th of October, Sylvia was given a final non-torturous bath by Ricky and Stephanie. They noticed that she wasn't breathing in the bathtub. Stephanie attempted to give her CPR but Sylvia was gone. 

Gertrude told her children to strip Sylvia naked and ordered Ricky to go to the payphone (there wasn't a phone line in the house) and call the police. 

 (Sylvia Likens as she was and a police photograph from the crime scene at the Baniszewski house. Photo credit: imgur.com

When the police arrived, Gertrude came up with a ridiculous story that Sylvia had run away as a prostitute and that she had shown up on her doorstep out of the blue half naked with a note claiming that a gang of boys had attacked her. She said that she'd been doctoring Sylvia for about an hour when she passed away.

In the middle of all of this, Paula who was holding a bible, announced to everyone that Sylvia's death was meant to happen and told Jenny ''If you want to live with us Jenny, we'll treat you like our own sister.'' 

The police were not stupid, they could see that they were not dealing with people who were of sound body and mind and the poor girl's body was so emaciated and covered in sores, bruises and burns that they could tell that her injuries had come about over a period of time and not the result of a recent attack as Gertrude had claimed. They took a look at the note and during the commotion, Jenny whispered to one of the police officers ''Get me out of here and I'll tell you everything.''

The police didn't waste any time and arrested Gertrude, Paula, Stephanie, John, Ricky and Coy. The neighbourhood children who were present at the time, Mike Monroe, Randy Lepper, Judy Duke and Anna Siscoe were also arrested for ''Injury to a person.''

Gertrude, her children, Ricky and Coy were held without bail pending their trials.

Charges against Mike Monroe, Randy Lepper, Judy Duke and Anna Siscoe were dismissed.

Stephanie Baniszewski's lawyer got her a separate trial and before it was able to begin, the district attorney dropped the murder charges.

An autopsy performed on Sylvia Likens body concluded that she had suffered over 150 separate wounds across her entire body. Her injuries included burns, bruises, muscle and nerve damage. Her vaginal cavity was almost swollen shut. A further examination determined that Sylvia was still a virgin at the time of her death. All of her fingernails were broken backwards, layers of her skin were peeling off and she had bitten through her lips, partially severing sections of them from her face. Her official cause of death was severe swelling and hemorrhaging of the brain combined with shock and malnutrition. 

(seated, left to right: John Nedeff, Stephanie Baniszewski, Ricky Hobbs, Paula Baniszewski, John Baniszewski, Coy Hubbard, Gertrude Baniszewski and attorney William Erbecker. Photo credit: murderpedia.org

The trial began in May of 1966, the prosecution sought the death penalty for everyone involved, including John and Ricky who were 13 and 14 at the time. Paula went into labour during the trial and gave birth to a girl whom she named ''Gertrude'' after her mother. There were four different attorneys involved, one for Gertrude, one for Paula, one for John and Coy and one for Ricky, even though they were all being tried together. Each attorney tried to pass on the blame to the others involved in an attempt to get their client acquitted or a lesser sentence. 

Gertrude and her attorney tried to pull the wool over people's eyes by portraying her as a weak, mentally ill person and placed all of the blame onto the children. The children placed the blame on Gertrude and the other children involved. 

Some of the most damaging testimony came from Gertrude herself when she repeated her paranoid ramblings about Sylvia being a prostitute who had been seeing middle-aged married men and that she caused trouble in her house.

To corroborate Gertrude's story, her 11 year old daughter, Marie was called to the stand. At first the child repeated everything her mother had told her to say but under cross examination, she crumbled and told the truth about everything that happened.

Gertrude was found guilty of first degree murder but she did not receive the death penalty. She was sentenced to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole.

Paula was convicted of second degree murder, she appealed and was granted a a new trial but before it began she struck a plea bargain and plead guilty to voluntary manslaughter. She served just three years of her sentence and was paroled, despite trying to previously escape prison. 

John, Coy and Ricky were each convicted of manslaughter and sentenced to 18 months in a Juvenile detention facility, By the time Ricky was released, the reality of what he had done, played heavily on his mind and he suffered a nervous breakdown. He became a heavy chain smoker and died of lung cancer at 21 years old. 

Gertrude appealed and was also given a new trial. She was found guilty again but sentenced to 18 years to life. She became a model prisoner behind bars and worked in a sewing shop. She became a shoulder to cry on to younger female prisoners and by the time she came up for parole in 1985, her nickname in prison was ''Mom''.

The public and the Likens family were outraged at hearing that Gertrude was being considered for parole. The Likens family made TV appearances and members of two anti-crime groups organised a sidewalk picket campaign. Over the course of two months, the groups collected 40,000 signatures from the public stating that Gertrude Baniszewski should remain behind bars.


At her parole hearing, Gertrude said, ''I'm not sure what role I had in it, because I was on drugs. I never really knew her. I take full responsibility for whatever happened to Sylvia.''

Despite efforts to keep her in prison, Gertrude walked out of the prison gates on the 4th of December, 1985. She changed her name to ''Nadine Van Fossen''. Her taste of freedom was to be short lived as she died in 1990 of lung cancer.

(Gertrude Baniszewski, picture taken in 1985, shortly before her release. Photo credit: murderpedia.org)

Another alarming fact is that both Stephanie and Paula managed to get jobs in schools working with children. After the trial, Stephanie was said to have moved in with her father, she later became a teacher and moved to Florida. She has claimed in the past that she didn't have anything to do with what happened to Sylvia but others disagree.

Paula, who was now calling herself, ''Paula Pace'', was working as a counsellors aid in a school and had been for quite some time when someone recognised her picture from facebook and tipped off the school in 2012. She was suspended then fired from the position. The baby girl that she had during the trial and had named ''Gertrude'' was given up for adoption. Her whereabouts in 2019 are unknown.

Shirley who was 10 years old at the time of the murder and Marie who was 11 had no charges brought against them. Marie was last heard to be living in Iowa and is close to Paula. Marie still lives in Indiana and has previously said that both herself and Shirley only took part in what happened to Sylvia because they were scared. She is said to be close to her sister Stephanie but not with her other sisters, Paula and Shirley.

John changed his surname to ''Blake'' and was released into the custody of his father where he continued school. He became a minister, got married and had three children. In 1998, he spoke publicly in the wake of the Johnsboro Massacre to say that he took full responsibility for his role in the murder and that a harsher sentence would have been more just. He died at the age of 52 after a long illness in 2005.

Coy Hubbard had run ins with the law as soon as he was released and this would continue throughout his life. He was acquitted of the murder of two men. He got married and had 6 children. He never moved away or changed his name but when An American Crime was released, he was fired from his job. He died at the age of 56 in 2007.


Judy Duke was initially arrested but the charges were dropped. She later got married and had three children. 

Darlene McGuire who was originally Sylvia's friend and introduced her to Paula, has never shown any remorse about her treatment of Sylvia. Darlene was one of the children who burnt Sylvia with cigarettes.

Randy Lepper had his charges dropped despite the fact he admitted that he hit Sylvia 30 - 40 times. Not much is known about his life other than he never married or had children and passed away in 2010.


Mike Monroe who was originally arrested and the charges were dropped, still lives in the same house he was living in when the murder happened. It is not known to what extent he was involved but he has never publicly apologised or said sorry for his involvement. 


Anna Sisco was also initially arrested but the charges were dropped. Not much is known about her life after the trial but she passed away in 1996.


Dennis Wright Jr. Dennis was a baby at the time of the murder and when the trial had ended he went into foster care. His foster parents were said to be abusive and he had a difficult life dealing with that and the knowledge about what his biological family did. He eventually got married and had a son. He passed away in 2012.

James Baniszewski who was 8 at the time of Sylvia's murder was involved at certain points in her torture but police said he was too young to be held accountable. He has never shown any remorse and has said that Sylvia died on purpose to piss his mom off.

Lester and Betty Likens divorced. Betty later remarried and passed away in 1999 at the age of 71. Lester Likens passed away in 2013.

 Jenny Fay Likens Wade was married with children and sadly passed away due to a heart attack at the age of 54 in 2004.

The house on East New York Street was eventually demolished on the 23rd of April 2009 and in it's place is now a church parking lot.

(Sylvia's grave. Photo credit: findagrave.com)

Sylvia's funeral took place in November of 1965 and was attended by over 100 people. The service took place at Russel and Hitch Funeral Home In Lebanon, She was buried in Oak Hill Cemetery, her headstone is inscribed with the words ''Our Darling Daughter''.

(The Sylvia Likens Memorial. Photo credit: yelp.com)

In June 2001, a memorial was formally dedicated to Sylvia which was attended by several hundreds of people, including, Sylvia's family.

This was a really difficult case to research, the details were so disturbing and it just got worse and worse the more I looked into it. My heart broke for Sylvia and Jenny. I have a lot of questions about this case which I'm sure a lot of people do too but it's too late for them to be answered. I can't get my head around Lester leaving the girls with a woman he hardly knew and I don't think the visits to see the girls were regular especially in the last months of Sylvia's life. She was so emaciated and covered in sores, burns and bruises that a parent would have spotted this straight away.

The neighbours, Phyllis and Raymond annoyed me because they witnessed some horrific things and chose to do nothing. They claimed it was through fear but they'd not long just bought their house and probably didn't want to upset their lives having to move or maybe they thought they'd be targeted by the Baniszewski kids.

That house seemed to be a hot spot for all of the kids in the neighbourhood and Gertrude was like the Pied Piper. These kids who took part in the torture and humiliation of that poor girl basically got away with it. I suppose we can take some comfort knowing that Gertrude had just five years of freedom. Her daughter Paula was just as much a monster as she was.

What a horrific case! Thank you so much if you've stuck with me this far, I really appreciate it. If you know any more details about what happened to Paula or any of the other Baniszewski family after the trial, please leave some comments below or tweet me and we'll have a chat about the case.

RIP Sylvia, Jenny, Betty and Lester.

Further reading and sources:

Murder Of Sylvia Likens
Murderpedia: Gertrude Baniszewski
An American Crime
The Girl Next Door
Torture Mom by Ryan Green
House of Evil by John Dean
The Punishment Game by Lavinia Jewel
Sylvia: The Likens Trial by Forrest Bowman Jr

Thanks for checking out my latest true crime posts x

If you enjoy my content and this latest post and you would like to donate a coffee to me, you can do so here

 Let's be friends on Instagram, you can now find me at: @KittysOnTheCase

I'm also on Twitter at: @CaledonianKitty & @CaledonianTweet

Keep up to date with my weekly true crime posts & more by subscribing to my blog via your email on my Home page or by following me on Bloglovin

Check out some of the true crime cases I have covered previously:

The Tragic Life & Death of Marvin Gaye

The Camden Ripper: Anthony John Hardy

Deadly Obsession: The Ricardo Lopez Story

Targeted: The Kriss Donald Story

-Toxic Relationship: The Tracie Andrews Story

Stalked To Death: The Alissa Blanton Story

Rod Ferrell And The Kentucky Vampire Cult

What Happened To Dominique Dunne?




Keep up to date with my latest posts on: Bloglovin  

Check out my community page & promotional platform for bloggers on twitter: @TheBloggersPost 

For all enquiries and collaborations, please contact: caledoniankblog@yahoo.co.uk