A detective from Met Police’s Special Casework Investigation Team, made a public appeal for any information that can help catch the killer of 43-year-old Penny Bell, who was murdered in 1991.
Appearing on BBC One’s ‘Crimewatch Live’ on yesterday (Wednesday, 10 March), Detective Sergeant Susan Stansfield appealed to the public to help catch the killer.
A £20,000 reward has also been offered to anyone who can provide information that will lead to the arrest and prosecution of the killer police have said.
Detective Sergeant Stansfield said: “It is 30 years this year that Penny was killed by an unknown person and we are still, to this day, trying to bring closure to her family who remain hopeful that justice will be served.
“To help us investigate Penny’s death, I am once again asking for anyone who might know who killed this mother of two to come forward and speak to a member of my team.
“A lot can change over 30 years. A partner, family member or friend from the time of the attack may have been too scared to report their information to us in 1991, but circumstances and relationships change and I would implore anyone who knows who committed this crime to call us.”
Detectives appeal 30 years on from Penny Bell murder
Detective Sergeant Susan Stansfield, from the Met's Special Casework Investigation Team, made a public appeal on @BBCCrimewatch for any information that can help catch the killer
— Hillingdon Police (@MPSHillingdon) March 11, 2021
Lauren Bell, Penny’s daughter, added: “We are grateful for the work of the Metropolitan Police and their determination to help solve this case.
“Thirty years marks an extremely painful milestone but with the help of Crimewatch and their viewers, we could be one step away from finding the perpetrator who still walks among us.
“Any information would be life-changing for us as a family and a result would mean we could finally find closure.”
In January, 2019, a new witness contacted the police to report that they believe on the day Penny was killed – on Thursday, 6 June 1991 – they saw a man in his underwear who appeared wet, as if he had just washed, walking across the footbridge that crosses the A40 Western Avenue, Greenford.
The witness said it was around 10:50hrs to 10:55hrs that she saw him and described him as a bronzed/tanned male, tall, with short brown hair which was lighter on top and aged in his early 30s.
The witness added that he was wearing blue stripped boxer shorts, a white t-shirt, had a chunky chain link thick bracelet and was carrying a rucksack.
DS Stansfield and her team would like to hear from anyone else who may recall such behaviour or witnessed something similar.
Talking about this latest piece of information, DS Stansfield said: “Following some previous media coverage, a new witness has come forward with what I would call very significant information that might help us catch Penny’s killer.
“She didn’t see any of the media coverage or reporting at the time and has now put two and two together and spoken to a member of my team.
“Did you also see something odd at the time that you now might think is connected? Or did you also see this man in his underwear and think nothing of it? If so, we need to speak to you as soon as possible.”
The following information has been taken from the Met Police website:
In the months leading up to Penny’s death, extensive building work was being carried out at the property she lived at in Denham, Buckinghamshire, with her husband and two children with builders and decorators entering and leaving the property.
It was said that Penny kept a meticulous record of the spending on the building work. On Monday 3 June, 1991, at around 14:30hrs, Penny went to her bank in Kilburn High Road and withdrew £8,500 in cash from her joint personal account.
The money was paid to Penny in used £50 notes and handed to her wrapped in a brown manila envelope.
Penny, apparently, made no mention of this withdrawal to anyone nor did she refer to it in her financial notes.
To date, the £8,500 is unaccounted for and the reason for its withdrawal remains unknown.
A few days later, on the morning of Thursday, 6 June, 1991, everything appeared normal at home.
About 09:30hrs, Penny made coffee for the builders. According to one of the builders, she appeared to be in more of a hurry than usual. During this conversation Penny said that she had an appointment at 09:50hrs that she couldn’t miss.
Penny left at 09:40hrs in her pale blue Jaguar XJS. That was the last positive sighting of her.
At around midday, police were called to Gurnell Grove Swimming Pool in Greenford to reports of a woman slumped in the driver’s seat of her car, covered in blood.
Officers and paramedics from London Ambulance Service attended but she was pronounced dead at the scene.
The female witnesses who called the police recounted that they had arrived at about 11:05hrs and parked next to Penny’s Jaguar.
Both women saw one person in the driver’s seat of the Jaguar slumped over onto the passenger seat as if asleep. They noticed nothing else unusual and went swimming.
They returned to their car just after midday. The Jaguar was still in situ. One women thought this odd and called over to the other. Upon closer examination, they saw the blood in the car and a wound on Penny’s arm.
When Penny was found she had been slumped across the passenger seat. Her grey handbag was open and placed behind the front passenger seat and still contained all of Penny’s personal effects with nothing, apparently, having been stolen and no signs that anyone had rummaged through the contents.
On the centre console of the car, and under Penny’s body, was a wallpaper sample. Officers believe that prior to the attack the wallpaper sample was open across the centre console as if she were looking at it or showing it to someone.
A post-mortem revealed that Penny had suffered over 50 stab wounds.
DS Stansfield, adds: “It was a clear and sunny day on the morning that Penny was killed and it’s estimated that around 300 people are believed to have used the car park or leisure facilities, meaning that there should have been plenty of witnesses who could help our investigation.
“Approximately 250 people who had used the leisure facilities between 09:00hrs and 11:00hrs were interviewed and eliminated. Over 60 drivers are known to have parked their cars in the car park during this time. No one interviewed had witnessed the attack or the killer’s escape; it’s almost as if they vanished into thin air.”
Following extensive media coverage at the time a number of witnesses came forward to police.
A number of people came forward claiming to have seen a Jaguar car similar to Penny’s in Greenford Road the morning of her death driving erratically.
Another witness contacted police to report a possible sighting of Penny at Black Park, Iver, Buckinghamshire, on Thursday 6 June about 09:40hrs.
She describes how a woman fitting Penny’s description, driving an identical car met with the driver of a bronze saloon car in Fulmar Common Road. She was sure from the subsequent publicity that it was Penny.
Another witness claimed that between 09:50hrs and 10:00hrs he also saw a pale blue Jaguar XJS parked in Fulmar Common Road.
To this day, the £8,500 Penny withdrew from the bank in the days before her death and who she had an appointment with on the day in question both remain unanswered.
Can you help the investigating team by providing some information that will catch Penny’s killer? Any information, no matter how insignificant you feel it is, might be is useful.
Information can be submitted via this link: https://mipp.police.uk/operation/0101020107B74-PO1 or call 0208 7858267. It can also be provided to Crimestoppers, anonymously, by calling the independent charity on 0800 555 111.
Source: Met Police