Date: 24 Dec 1994
Tracey Mertens was found with serious burn injuries in the grounds of Eaton Church and died the following morning.
A man was charged with conspiracy to murder in 1995 but the case was dropped on the grounds of insufficient evidence.
Tracey Mertens had been abducted from her former home in Birmingham, which she had just left with her boyfriend, and taken to Eaton near Congleton, 70 miles away, on 23 December 1994 were she was set on fire.
She was found on fire by a member of the public and taken to North Staffordshire Hospital. She suffered 95% burns and died 12 hours later in the early hours of 24 December 1994.
It was heard that before she died, she had been able to tell the police what had happened to her.
Tracey Mertens had just moved to Rochdale with her boyfriend at the time but had travelled back down to Birmingham on 22 December 1994 to collect some belongings.
She had initially intended on returning home the same day, but instead stayed at her sister-in-law′s house that night and the following morning, 23 December 1994, she went back to her former home at 10 Cattells Grove, Nechells where she used to live to collect her belongings and a benefits book.
Whilst there it was heard that she answered a knock at the door and was kidnapped by two men that bundled her into the back of a tatty yellow Mark 2 Ford Escort with a silver panel and a cuddly toy stuck on the back window, that had been left parked outside the house. The two men that kidnapped her were said to have spoken with Jamaican accents. She said that when the men burst in they had screamed at her, 'Where's your boyfriend?'.
The two men were described as being black, both in their early 30's, overweight, and both wearing brown leather baseball style caps and black leather coats.
A woman that heard them speaking said that they had both spoken a foreign language that the police later said they thought was Patois.
It was heard that she had only been at the property for about ten minutes before she was abducted.
She was blind-folded for the journey to Eaton.
The police said that they were interested in hearing from anyone that had seen the yellow Ford Escort between 11am and 4.20pm on the Friday between Birmingham and Eaton. The police noted that the roads were busy with pre-Christmas traffic and that the M6 motorway was monitored with numerous security cameras.
When they got there, Tracey Mertens was set on fire with petrol in the churchyard of Christ Church and left to die.
She was found soon after by a member of the public on fire.
It was heard that Tracey Mertens had had an on and off relationship with her boyfriend since they were teenagers and that they had first moved to Birmingham around 1992 out of the blue. They had two children.
It was heard however, that Tracey Mertens had left her boyfriend in the summer of 1994 and gone back with her two children to Rochdale and stayed with her sister for a couple of weeks.
It was heard that when she was at her sister's house, Tracey Mertens had acted strangely and had not wanted to know where her boyfriend was and that she had taped up the letterbox, windows and curtains so that they wouldn't move. A friend said that she thought that Tracey Mertens had been scared of something.
However, after a couple of weeks she went back to Birmingham to live with her boyfriend.
The police said that Tracey Mertens's boyfriend was a habitual drug user and had admitted at the time of the murder that he had owed people a substantial amount of money, but that he had also denied that that was the cause of her murder.
Tracey Mertens's friend said that they thought that Tracey Mertens had refused to tell the men where her boyfriend was as she had thought that her children were with him at the time.
When the police searched the former home in Cattells Grove, they found the word 'death' daubed on the window in white.
The police said that a while after her murder, they received a call from another couple who had a drugs debt and told them that they had received a call telling them that if they didn't pay that they would 'get what Tracey Mertens got'.