Unsolved Murders

Janine Downes

Age: 22

Sex: female

Date: 2 Feb 1991

Place: Lay-by on the A464 Shifnal to Wolverhampton Road, Shropshire

Source: www.independent.co.uk

Janine Downes was found semi-naked, strangled and beaten in a hedge by a lay-by on the A464 at Shifnal on 2 February 1991 at about 9am.

Her post-mortem stated that she had been sexually assaulted and had extensive head injuries and that she had been strangled.

The pathologist said that he thought that her body had been left there sometime between midnight and 4am. It was thought that her head injuries had been caused by a jagged-edged weapon.

It was reported that her facial injuries were so severe that the police could not be certain of her identity until they verified with her pimp that she was missing.

It was said that she had been friends with Gail Whitehouse who was murdered in 1990 and whose murder is also unsolved and that she might have been murdered because she knew too much about her murder.

The police said that they thought that her murderer would have been bloodstained and that their vehicle might well also have had bloodstains in it.

Janine Downes was a prostitute and was known to have been working in the Wolverhampton red-light district, Horseley Fields and Walsall Street, on the night she went missing. It was thought that she might have been murdered by a client.

It was known that she had been in the Harp pub in Walsall Street with another girl at 9pm but that she had only stayed for a short time, long enough it was said, to have joked about some taxi-drivers.

It was thought that she might have next been seen near Willenhall Car Sales in Horseley Fields at about 10pm.

She was found early the next morning at 9am in the hedge by the lay-by near to Lambert's Restaurant by a passing motorist. It was thought that her body had been dragged to the spot where it was found. It was also noted that the ground was frosty at the time.

The police said that they were particularly interested in tracing a dark-coloured hatchback car that was thought to have possibly had a D prefix that was seen at the lay-by between 6.30am and 7am on 2 February 1991.

When Janine Downes was found she had been wearing a paisley-patterned blouse, a bra and blue ankle socks with the other items of her clothing being missing, including her lower items, blue jeans and her white training shoes, as well as her Shell International black tracksuit top that had yellow piping and the words 'Nike International' on it.

The police said that they were convinced that there were people that knew who murdered Janine Downes, and they appealed for them to come forward. They said that they thought that there had been a conspiracy of silence.

Janine Downes was a mother of three. She had come from a broken home and had lived in and out of care homes. She was 5ft tall and weighed less than 8 stone and was said to have been a favourite with certain clients because of her child-like frame.

It was said that her disappearance was noticed as she had been being kept as a virtual sex slave in the Wolverhampton flat that she lived in.

It was suggested that she might have been murdered by one of her imps who was said to have committed suicide shortly after her murder. However, it was added that the police were more interested in her connection with Gail Whitehouse who was murdered the year before and the possibility that she had known something about that.

In 2012, it was reported by Birmingham Live that a crime writer thought that she might have been murdered by either Philip Smith or Alun Kyte, both convicted murderers.


*map pointers are rough estimates based on known location details as per Place field above.


see Shropshire Star

see Birmingham Mail

see Birmingham Live

see Birmingham Live

see Express and Star

see BBC

see Sandwell Evening Mail - Saturday 16 February 1991

see Sandwell Evening Mail - Thursday 14 February 1991

see Sandwell Evening Mail - Tuesday 05 February 1991