From chilling ‘deep freeze’ murder to mum torched in a churchyard, the terrifying unsolved crimes that time forgot – The Sun

A MAN chopped up and stuffed into two suitcases, a devoted mum slaughtered in front of her baby, and a woman driven across the country and set alight.

These are just some of the gruesome and terrifying unsolved cold cases still haunting UK police today – but many of them remain relatively unknown.

With constant advances in DNA technology, many families remain hopeful that one day they'll get answers – and that's exactly what happened for the mum of murdered schoolboy Rikki Neave this week, as a man was finally charged over his death.

Rikki, six, was strangled and left for dead, naked, in woodland five minutes' walk from his home in Peterborough in 1994.

His mum Ruth Neave, now 49, was initially charged with murder but later found not guilty by a jury. She did however admit charges of child cruelty to Rikki and his two sisters and was sentenced to seven years in prison.

Now, as James Watson, 38, is charged over her son's death, she admits she feels "overwhelmed" and "numb".

But many families have never been granted the answers they've always craved and some brutal crimes from years ago still remain unsolved today.

Here, we look some of Britain's most terrifying cold cases – and many of them you may never have even heard of.

Mum set ablaze in churchyard

Mum-of-two Tracey Mertens was found dying after being blindfolded, doused in petrol and set on fire in a churchyard in Cheshire on December 23, 1994.

The 31-year-old tragically passed away hours later – in what was later described as a "violent and horrific" death – but not before the heroic woman was able to describe her two attackers to police.

Tracey, who lived in Rochdale, Greater Manchester, at the time with her two kids and on-off partner Joey Kavanagh, had travelled to Birmingham the previous day to collect a benefits book from her former home.

Her family previously claimed she had a strained relationship with Joey, and alleged that he was a drug user that owed people money.

Rather than returning home the same day, Tracey stayed at her sister-in-law′s and visited her former home the next day.

According to police, she answered the door to two men shortly before midday who barged in and asked her where Joey was.

When she didn't answer, they proceeded to grab hold of her, blindfold her and bundle her into an old yellow Ford Escort – before driving her to Eaton churchyard.

Around five hours later, a passer by found her crying for help in the churchyard with 95 per cent burns to her body.

Having been rushed to hospital, she reportedly provided "vital information" to police before she died – describing her attackers as "two black men around 30-years-old, big and fat in build with Birmingham accents", the MEN reports.

A petrol canister was later found nearby, revealing how she had been doused in petrol.

However, no one has ever been caught or charged over her death.

Slaughtered as baby girl watched

Knowing she was in the room when her mum was violently murdered in front of her still haunts Emily Hales today.

The 27-year-old was just 19 months old when her mum Karen, just 21 at the time, was slaughtered in her home in Ipswich on November 21, 1993.

Emily was just metres away at the time, but was too young to remember any of the horror now.

Karen was stabbed multiple times and an attempt was made to set her body alight.

Karen's fiancé Peter Ruffles had left for work at 3.50pm. Her body was discovered an hour later by her dad Graham.

But despite a large-scale inquiry, national media appeals, rewards and heart-wrenching appeals from her family, no one has ever been charged over her murder.

There's never a day that goes by that I don't think about her.

"I remember her by the photos," a tormented Emily told BBC News. "It's hard but I have to try to move on.

"There's never a day that goes by that I don't think about her.

"I want to get married one day and that's when you want your mum there – to do the girly things like going shopping and looking for a dress. I'll miss out on that."

Chopped up in two suitcases

When 17-year-old Bernard Oliver failed to return home after spending the night with friends in North London in January 1967, his dad grew increasingly worried and called the police.

A frantic search for the missing teen was launched immediately and went on for days on end.

Tragically, his body was discovered ten days later by a farm worker in a field 77 miles away – near the sleepy village of Tattingstone, Suffolk.

He had been sexually assaulted and strangled before being chopped up – with his butchered remains split between two suitcases.

Chillingly, his brother Tony later claimed he was found to have newly manicured nails and a fresh haircut too – signalling he had been looked after by whoever he was with before his gruesome death.

Police were unable to identity him and had to release a photo of his head to the media to discover who the body in the suitcases belonged to.

Bernard's dad immediately contacted cops and told them the mutilated body was that of his teenage son.

It was later revealed Bernard had died 48 hours before he was discovered but the exact location of where he was murdered has never been identified.

Officers managed to find two pieces of physical evidence – one of the suitcases carried the initials "PVA" and a hand towel had the laundry mark "QL 42".

Cops also found a matchbox in Bernard's pocket from a brand marketed in Israel.

But despite the investigation being opened twice – once in 2017 – the brutal murder remains unsolved.

Stabbed 28 times on Halloween

Viciously stabbed round the face and head 28 times, with a nylon stocking tied tightly round her neck… Katherine Lilian Armstrong's death was cruel and merciless, a far cry from her peaceful life in Sandyford, Newcastle.

The retired schoolteacher was killed over Halloween in November 1963 and the case has baffled Newcastle police for years.

Katherine, 70, was found dead by officers in her home at around 10.50am on November 1, after being horrifically beaten, according to the Chronicle Live.

The case became a top priority for police at the time, with all planned leave cancelled and every officer called in to help – as well as detectives at London’s Scotland Yard.

Katherine had been due to attend a choir meeting on the night before she was found dead, but never turned up.

There was no sign of forced entry, which police reportedly said could mean she knew her attacker.

Her cousin also aired concerns that teenagers could have broken in as a prank before being caught out.

However, despite 16,000 local people being interviewed in the massive investigation, no one has ever been caught.

'Deep freeze' murder

Jumping off her bus following a dance class, quiet and shy Ann Noblett, 17, was last seen walking up a quiet lane towards her home in Marshalls Heath, near Wheathampstead, Hertfordshire. But she never made it home.

A month after she vanished, Ann's body was discovered almost frozen solid, fully clothed with her glasses still on, around five miles away from where she was last spotted.

She had been strangled and possibly sexually assaulted, but the grisly case baffled cops who couldn't figure out how her ice-cold body was in such a state.

Her dumped remains were found in January 1958 – a time when most people didn't have access to refrigeration units and the winter had been mild with a "very rapid rise in temperatures".

Yet Ann's body was still preserved 32 days after she first vanished – leading the gruesome killing to become known as the "Deep Freeze" murder.

Police began questioning owners of refrigerated vehicles – including ice cream vans – and searched farms where meat was kept in freezing temperatures.

But no shred of physical evidence remains from the original police investigation, so a DNA profile of the killer couldn't be created.

It means more than 60 years after the teenager first disappeared after getting off a bus in Marshalls Heath, the mysterious case still remains unsolved.

Strangled with own tights

The murder of quiet grandmother Esther Soper remains one of Plymouth's most mysterious unsolved cases.

The 51-year-old was found dead after being bludgeoned with a cider bottle before being strangled with her own tights on New Year's Day in 1976.

Esther had failed to turn up to a Plymouth Brethren meeting, so two concerned members visited her home to check on her at around 9pm. There they found her body wrapped in curtains inside.

Esther had been trying to sell her home in the weeks before her murder – a fact that became central to the subsequent police investigation.

She had reportedly made a number of appointments for people to view the property – including one with a “Clifford Sparks”, who had booked to see it for a second time on New Year’s Day, the Plymouth Herald reports.

It was later claimed the name may have been made up by an estate agent, which was fairly common practice then.

No charges were ever brought and while the case was reviewed in 1997 and again in 2004, with DNA evidence analysed, no one has been connected to the horrific death ever since.

Hunt for 'Beast of Whitworth Park'

Her brutal rape and murder sparked a huge manhunt for the "Beast of Whitworth Park", but no one ever figured out what exactly happened to Elsa Hannaway.

The 37-year-old had come to the UK as a teen but was battered to death and left naked in a park in Manchester years later.

Elsa was raising five children and a grandson on her own when she treated herself to a night out in October 1987.

But she was knocked unconscious before being dragged 100 yards to a park where she was raped and so savagely beaten, she suffered internal injuries, brain damage and lost a tooth.

Her naked body was discovered five hours later by a jogger and sent panic around South Manchester with women too scared to go out alone at night.

Despite a mammoth investigation involving 125 detectives, Elsa's killer was never found.

"She’s been forgotten. I don’t think she should be forgotten," her daughter Joann Hannaway told MEN.

"I don’t think anybody should die on their own like that. To me it was a pointless waste of a life."

From movies to murder

In November 1940, 17-year-old Minnie Stott left her home in Bolton to go to the cinema.

She said goodbye to her parents Fred and Alice at around 7.45pm and they never saw her alive again.

Just four hours later, her body was discovered at 11.53pm by passing police officer Harry Brooks in the yard of a garage.

She was lying on her back with blood trickling from her mouth and a red mark on her neck where she had been strangled.

Her handbag was lying by her feet and the murder weapon – believed to be a green scarf she had been wearing – as well as her underwear were missing.

Minnie had been dead around two hours with a "faint warmth" still in her face.

An inquest heard the tragic teen had been the victim of a sex attack and a jury ruled she had died from asphyxia due to strangulation.

Few details were available to the police and one suspect – a soldier who had a drink with Minnie two days earlier – was eliminated from the case.

Meanwhile, two men she was allegedly seen getting into a car with on the night she died were never tracked down.

Minnie's parents were buried in the same cemetery in Heaton never knowing what had happened to their daughter.

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