Skip to main content

True crime anniversaries in April

April True Crime Anniversaries

Each month we’re looking back over some of the most notorious and significant crimes in history. Below are some of the most serious crimes that took place in April.

3rd April: The murder of Tia Rigg by her uncle (2010)

Tia Rigg was just twelve years old when her maternal uncle, John Maden, tortured and murdered her. She died after hours of torture and sexual assault. Tia was called over to her uncle’s house to babysit for his daughter. When she arrived, he immediately drugged her and began to inflict on her a ‘horrific catalogue of injuries’. Tia was stabbed and strangled before Maden called 999 himself and stated that he’d killed his niece. He was sentenced to life imprisonment.

14th April: Student Rachel McClean is murdered by her new fiancé (1991)

On 14th April 1991, Rachel McClean was murdered by her fiancé, John Tanner, just one day after their engagement. Rachel was a student at St. Hilda’s College in Oxford, and the crime became well-known as Tanner thought he was smart enough to outwit the police with a concoction of lies.

Tanner strangled his fiancé before hiding her body under the floorboard of her house. He tried to set things up so he would avoid suspicion, writing Rachel a letter, mentioning a long-haired man who gave her a lift home from the station and phoning her. It took police searchers seventeen days to find Rachel’s body, and soon after, Tanner broke down and admitted to the murder. He was sentenced to life imprisonment but released after just over eleven years, returning to live in his former home in New Zealand.

21st April: Hannah Williams murdered by convicted sex offender (2001)

Hannah Williams was a fourteen-year-old schoolgirl who went missing during a shopping trip in April 2001. Hannah told her mother she was going window shopping in Deptford, but she never returned home. It was initially presumed Hannah had run away, and her body was not uncovered until March 2002. Robert Howard, an Irish convicted sex offender, was found guilty of raping and murdering Hannah and received a sentence of life imprisonment.

22nd April: The murder of Stephen Lawrence (1993)

The murder of Stephen Lawrence remains one of the most notorious in British history, as it changed the country and led to the recognition of institutionalised racism within the Metropolitan Police Force. It also led to the partial revocation of the double jeopardy rule in the British legal system.

Stephen Lawrence was an eighteen-year-old black man waiting for a bus in Eltham. He was approached at the bus stop by a gang of white youths who racially abused him, attacked him and then stabbed and killed him.

The initial investigation led to six suspects being arrested, but none were charged, and private prosecutions by the Lawrence family also led to no convictions. In June 2006, a cold case review brought attention back to Stephen’s case, and they were able to find more evidence. This led to the conviction of Gary Dobson and David Norris in January 2012.

23rd April: The long-unsolved murder of Roy Tutill (1968)

Roy Tutill was a fourteen-year-old boy who was raped and murdered on his way home from school in April 1968. The murder remained unsolved for over 33 years and was one of the longest unsolved murders for much of that time. Roy’s murder was eventually solved in 2001 when Brian Lunn Field confessed to the crime after the discovery of DNA evidence.

Roy was walking home from school in Kingston upon Thames and was last seen trying to hail a car in Chessington. His parents immediately raised the alarm when he didn’t return home, and three days later, his body was discovered by a police officer in Mickleham. In 2000, a DNA match was found as Field had given a DNA sample after an arrest for drunk driving. He eventually confessed in detail to Roy’s rape and murder and was sentenced to life in prison.

23rd April: Mi Gao Huang Chen attacked and killed (2005)

Mi Gao Huang Chen ran a Chinese takeaway in Wigan. There had been issues with antisocial behaviour and racially aggravated abuse before his murder on 23rd April 2005. A large group of youths was involved in the attack, and the police initially arrested 23 people, with four eventually being convicted. He was punched, kicked, stamped on and attacked with weapons and died of his injuries five days later. The murder was said to be part of a growing trend for anti-Chinese violence around the UK.

26th April: The shooting of Jill Dando (1999)

The murder of Jill Dando shocked the nation as she was one of the best-known journalists of her generation. In 1997, she was the BBC Personality of the Year, and in April 1999, she was cruelly shot on her own doorstep. Her murder led to the biggest murder enquiry since the hunt for the Yorkshire Ripper.

Barry George, a local man, was convicted and imprisoned for the murder, but his sentence was overturned after eight years, as forensic evidence meant his conviction was judged unsafe. There has been some debate that she may have been killed by the Serbian warlord, Željko Ražnatović, commonly known as Arkan, but the case remains unsolved to this date.