1998 Letchford & O'Connor murders

From Historical Hastings

The burned bodies of Claire Letchford (40) and Beryl O'Connor (75) were both discovered dead in their residences which had been set on fire during January of 1998.Mrs O'Connor had been strangled and there was evidence that Mrs Letchford had been strangled before their bodies were set on fire, using their clothes to fuel the flames. Mrs Letchford was found dead at her rented basement flat in Cornwallis Gardens, where she lived alone, on January 18, 1998.

Inquest

The Home Office pathologist said Mrs Letchford had been found badly burned with a pair of shoelaces tied around her neck and a cushion cover over her head, restraining her before she was set alight and died from inhaling smoke. The fire brigade reported two separate seats of fire had been located in the flat with no sign of forced entry or electrical fault. The police said her killer probably entered through the front door, which had been left unlocked.[1]Mrs O'Connor was found at her home on the 26th of January in a top floor flat at Clifton Court, Holmesdale Gardens, a medical professional reported to the inquest that "She had been alive at the time the fire started. I am quite satisfied this woman died of asphyxiation after suffering from strangulation."[1]In spite of intensive investigation (Operation Envoy) by the police , little progress was made in finding the murder for 11 years. The investigation was re-opened in following a Broadmoor patient confession to the murders in addition to the attempted rape and murder of a foreign student on a London bound train in the same year as the murders during June of 2010

Confession

Whilst in Broadmoor for an unrelated offence, Graham Fisher confessed to attempting to strangle both women, then setting their bodies on fire utilising articles of their clothing. In addition, he claimed to have cut some flesh from Ms Letchford's arm and eating it[2] In the trial at Lewes Crown Court, Fisher was sentenced to serve a further 21 years at the high-security hospital.

References & Notes

  1. a b The Argus: KILLER IS STILL AT LARGE | The Argus, accessdate: 16 January 2020
  2. BBC News: Flesh-eating Hastings killer jailed for 21 years - BBC News, accessdate: 16 January 2020