A case of mistaken identity meant that a woman endured a terrifying kidnap and the police were led to a lonely farmhouse and two brothers with a ghastly secret.
When kidnappers mistook Muriel McKay for Rupert Murdoch’s wife Anna, the case would go gone down in history as one of the most notorious murder cases of our time and Britain's first kidnapping.
Born in Trinidad in 1955, Arthur Hosein came to England as a tailor’s cutter. After completing his National Service he married a German woman named Elsa. Arthur had dreams of becoming a local squire and in 1967 he borrowed heavily to buy an old farmhouse on the borders of Hertfordshire and Essex. He applied to become a member of the local hunt, but couldn’t ride a horse or afford the subscription.
“We tried to get Rupert Murdoch’s wife. We couldn’t get her so we took yours instead. You have a million by Wednesday night or we will kill her.”
While watching media magnate Rupert Murdoch and his wife Anna on television one night with his 21-year-old brother Nizamodeen, Arthur thought of an easy way to make enough money to pay for the lifestyle he desired. Later they followed Murdoch’s Rolls Royce to a house in Wimbledon thinking they knew where the Murdochs lived, but they were holidaying in Australia.
At 7.45 pm on Sunday 29th December Murdoch’s deputy chairman, Alick McKay was dropped off at his Wimbledon mansion to find the front door open, the lights on and his wife Muriel gone. The phone was pulled out of the wall and the contents of his wife's handbag were strewn over the stairs and a rusty meat cleaver lay on the floor. The fire was still burning.
The police were suspicious that Alick’s 55-year-old wife may have left her husband and they were angered when Alick called the editor of The Sun newspaper, asking him to run the story the following morning.
Several hours later, Alick received a call from a phone box. “We are Mafia M3,” said the male caller, “We tried to get Rupert Murdoch’s wife. We couldn’t get her so we took yours instead. You have a million by Wednesday night or we will kill her.”
The kidnappers thought they had snatched the publishing tycoon's wife, Anna and had no idea that Mrs McKay was using the company's car while the Murdochs were on holiday.
The kidnappers called again saying that Alick would receive a letter from his wife Muriel. The following morning a scribbled note reading, “Please do something to get me home. What have I done to deserve this treatment?” arrived at the McKay’s home.