Date: 3 Jul 1994
Place: Earlsfield Lane, Grantham
Sharon Harper was murdered on her way home from the Market Cross public house where she worked.
She was strangled half a mile from her home and dumped in an ornamental shrubbery in a car park for Shepherd Construction.
She had been beaten and strangled. It was thought that she was murdered shortly after midnight on 2 July 1994.
It was noted that Sharon Harper had just had sex before she was murdered.
Five people were arrested in connection with her murder, but no one was charged.
Sharon Harper had lived in Sycamore Court and worked three nights a week at the Market Cross public house in Westgate, Grantham as a barmaid. It was said that her route home from the Market Cross public house would have taken her along Westgate, Harlaxton Road and then along Trent Road.
At the time she had left her four-month-old daughter at a childminder’s house and was expected to collect her after work, but she never arrived.
During the investigation, the police received sightings of a car said to have been seen to be parked in the Shepherd Construction car park at about 3.35am on 3 July 1994, which they also said they were interested in tracing.
Other reports stated that Sharon Harper had been seen arguing with a man in Harlaxton Road near the Archways service station. The man was described as being about 30-years-old.
It was heard that the crime scene investigation found a 'rogue' hair, but that it was never found out who it had come from, although it was hoped that advances in DNA technology would result in a breakthrough in the case.
During their investigation, the police said that they were trying to eliminate a man from their investigation that had been seen with Sharon Harper about a month before she was murdered. A friend said that she had been on her way to Woolworths when she had seen Sharon Harper in the passageway at the rear of Morrisons. She said that she was standing there on a corner in the passageway talking to the man who she said had long hair. She said that they had been talking quite intensely. The friend said that she walked past them and carried on walking towards Woolworths and said that when she came out again, 10-15 minutes later and walked back towards the passageway to the short wall to have a cigarette, she said that Sharon Harper and the man with long hair were still there at the corner of the passageway behind Morrisons talking. She said that as she sat down, Sharon Harper walked away from the man and towards her, but said that the man followed her. She said that Sharon Harper then stopped to speak to her and that the man then walked on. She noted that she thought that Sharon Harper looked relieved to see her. However, she said that when she asked Sharon Harper who the man was, she said that Sharon Harper told her that it didn't matter and that she didn't want to tell her. The friend added that after asking Sharon Harper who the man was she turned to watch the man walk away but said that Sharon Harper told her not to do that. In the Crimewatch reconstruction of the incident a month before Sharon Harper's murder, the man with the long hair was seen wearing casual jeans, jumper and to have been wearing a small canvas style rucksack over his shoulder.
On Friday 1 July 1994 Sharon Harper was working at the Market Cross public house and her boyfriend was working nights and so she took her baby to a friend’s house in a nearby flat. She stayed for a few minutes and then went off to work.
It was said to have been a normal Friday night at work, and Sharon Harper, who was said to have been in a good mood, had talked about going out on the Sunday night with a work colleague at the pub. It was heard that after the pub closed, the staff stayed behind for a drink, which was normal, and that Sharon Harper had been one of the last people to leave. She was seen to leave the pub and go past the window there and it was thought that she would have walked home between 12.20am and 12.15am in the early hours of 2 July 1994.
Sharon Harper's friend and her boyfriend were at that time expecting Sharon Harper back to pick up her baby.
An anonymous caller later called on 4 July 1994 to say that around that same time as Sharon Harper was expected back to collect her baby, he had seen Sharon Harper arguing with a man with long hair outside Archways Garage on Harlaxton Road. The man said that he stopped and asked Sharon Harper if she was alright but said that Sharon Harper told him that she was fine and so he drove off. However, the police said that they didn't know who the man was. It was heard that the driver of the car had described the man that he had seen Sharon Harper arguing with as being in his mid-thirty's and with long dark hair.
It was heard that Sharon Harper was next seen by a taxi-driver between 12.40am and 12.45am on Wharf Road near the roundabout, having apparently gone back towards the Market Cross public house by a public phone. The taxi-driver said that he saw Sharon Harper there by the phone box arguing with a man. He said that it seemed at the time as though the man had been pulling Sharon Harper away from the phone box and that Sharon Harper had been wanting to get into it. The taxi-driver said that the man was wearing a white short-sleeved t-shirt and jeans and had shoulder length hair.
Sharon Harper's boyfriend said that he had arranged to meet Sharon Harper the following morning at 8am to go shopping, and said that when he got to her flat he noticed that the kitchen light was still on which he thought was unusual. He said that he went into the flat but that she was not there.
Sharon Harper was found the following day, 3 July 1994 dead in the car park, having been strangled.
During their appeal, the police said that they had had two anonymous calls on 4 July 1994, which they said was essentially the first day of the enquiry, one of which was from the man that had seen Sharon Harper outside the garage arguing with the man, and said that they would like the callers to come forward in order that they might help them further. The police did however note that although there were two calls, that they could have been made by the same man, or by two separate people, but they could not say with certainty whether they were made by one or two people. The police said that the information given by both of the callers was very similar. They added that there were three possible motives for the calls.
The police said that they favoured the third possibility and that as such, they thought that the man or men had seen the killer and were as such central to their enquiries. The police stated that they wanted to speak to the man/men because he had told them that the man he had seen with Sharon Harper had long hair but noted that people’s perceptions of long hair varied, and that to one person shoulder length hair was long, whilst to others, much longer hair would qualify as long hair. The police also noted that the man had told them that he had seen Sharon Harper with the man before and the police said that they had wanted to speak to him to find out when and where. It was further noted that the man had plainly known Sharon Harper well. It was noted that on the second call the man had said that he had slowed his car down to ask Sharon Harper if she was alright.
It was also noted that in one of the calls, the man had told the police that he had thought that the man he had seen with Sharon Harper outside the garage had been wearing a white Leeds United t-shirt.
The police noted that the fact that the man that was seen with Sharon Harper outside Archways service station on the night she was murdered was said to have been similar in description to the man that Sharon Harper had been seen with in the passageway towards the back of Morrisons a month earlier, that that was no indication that they were the same person, although reiterated their interest in identifying the man seen in the passage way in order to rule out that connection and released a photo-fit of him.
It was noted that it was determined that some items had been missing from Sharon Harper's body when she was found, but the police said that they didn't think that robbery or theft had been the motive.
Sharon Harper was planning to get married at the time of her murder and had been together with her partner for about two years.
The Market Cross public house was later renamed the Barcode.