Date: 18 Oct 1988
Linda Donaldson was found dead and mutilated in a ditch 18 miles away from her home.
It was thought that she might have been murdered and mutilated by more than one person and possibly in response to a television program the day before on Jack the Ripper.
She had been stabbed multiple times and mutilated and the police described her murder as a 'Jack the Ripper' style killing. The police said, 'An attempt had been made to remove her head by severing it at the neck'.
The police said that they were not ruling out the possibility that her murderer had been a regular client.
She had been a prostitute and had lived and worked in the Canning Street red light district in Toxteth, also known as 'The Square’. It was noted that many of the women working the streets were there for one reason, and that was heroin and they many of them were drug addicts and had turned to prostitution to fund their needs.
However, it was said that she was a really friendly person and that everyone liked her.
Her working name was Tracy which was the name that most of her customers would have known her by.
It was said that although she was a prostitute, she was careful in a number of ways and regularly visited a nearby clinic set up to prevent the spread of aids where she would pick up free needles and condoms.
It was also noted that she would take her clients back home via a back alleyway so as not to offend neighbours. It was noted that she had been invited to appear on the Kilroy television show in December 1987 about prostitution where she had talked about that very issue, saying that she would not like to live with her children where prostitutes were bringing men home. In the television program, she had said, 'Are we supposed to work on a deserted street and get mugged and raped and maybe attacked?'. She also said, 'The police in Liverpool wanted us to work on a deserted street in front of the Cathedral, and then they thought about it a bit more and they put us back in a residential area because it was less dangerous'. She then said, 'I certainly don't walk past when someone's got kids around. I wouldn't dream of chatting up a man right in front of kids. Not many girls will'.
The police said, 'She was somebody who realised the dangers. From what we have been told she was not the sort of girl prepared to go with just anybody. She was very, very careful about choosing her clients'.
On the night of Monday 17 October 1988 from 7pm, Linda Donaldson had been on her regular spot on the corner of Canning Street and Catharine Street. It was said that she was distinctive because she had always worn black.
It was noted that at some time before 10pm she had visited a shop in Windsor Street to buy some groceries. which was described as being part of her normal routine and that after doing her shopping she had returned to her flat to feed her pets. She had a dog and three cats which her flatmate had rescued as strays from the streets.
It was noted that she walked everywhere quickly.
However, by 11pm it was said that she was back on the streets at the corner of Canning Street and Catharine Street to meet customers. She was spotted by two plain clothed policemen at about 11pm talking to a man. One of the plain clothed policemen said that he knew Linda Donaldson.
Although it was described as a quiet night, it was said that Linda Donaldson had met a number of clients.
Another prostitute that had been working in Grove Street said that at about 11.30pm she was approached by a man whose behaviour made her feel uneasy. She said that he asked her if she was doing business and then asked her if she knew anywhere dark. She said that the man had had a bag with him that made a clanking sound when he put it down. However, the police said that they were unable to trace the man. However, a photofit of the man was released. The man was described as:
About two hours later at 1.30am in the early hours of Tuesday 18 October 1988 the prostitute that had met the man with the clunking bag met Linda Donaldson and said that they talked about business and said that she told her about the weird man that she had met after which she hailed a taxi to go home. However, she said that as the taxi pulled away, she noticed Linda Donaldson moving off towards a dark car that had just come by which had pulled into back Canning Street. However, it was never determined who had been in the car and no one saw her alive again.
Another prostitute said that she had seen a man approach Linda Donaldson twice on the night she was murdered. She said 'He approached Linda twice that evening, as late as midnight. Each time she didn't want anything to do with him'. She described the man as:
Her flatmate reported her missing later on 18 October 1988 and her body was found by an elderly couple later that afternoon.
About four hours later, between 5.45am and 6.45am on Tuesday 18 October 1988, about 18 miles away, a maroon Ford Grenada Mark 2 car was seen parked in Winwick Lane near Leigh and it was thought that the people in the car might have seen something suspicious as it was not far from where Linda Donaldson's body was later found.
Later that day, at about lunch time, an elderly couple in a car pulled off of the M6 motorway at junction 22 and joined the A579 road to Leigh and soon after at about 1.30pm pulled in to the same place where the maroon Ford Grenada had been seen earlier. The woman said that because they had been driving for a while, she would get stiff and liked to stop and stretch her legs. They said that when they pulled over into the field entrance and walked about, they saw what they thought was a body. The man then went over and found that it was a body and it was later determined to be the body of Linda Donaldson.
Linda Donaldson's body was naked when it was found. She had been stabbed to death and mutilated.
The police said that they thought that Linda Donaldson had been picked up, murdered, her body mutilated and that she had then been dumped in the location where she was found. They said that she had been murdered elsewhere and then dumped in the ditch.
However, the police said that they had no idea where she had been murdered, but stated that it was quite clear that the murderer had had plenty of room to carry out the murder and the mutilation and that it was likely that the place where she had been murdered was someplace between Liverpool and Winwick Lane. The police added that they thought that the murderer had also had plenty of light and had taken their time over the murder.
Her clothing, including a black dress, and handbag were never found.
The police said that they were also still trying to trace the murder weapon which they said they thought had been a heavy bladed knife that was at least 8 inches long.
It was noted that earlier on the 17 October 1988, the day before Linda Donaldson was found, there had been an airing on the television of a Jack the Ripper dramatisation starring the famous actor Michael Caine which took place 100 years after the Jack the Ripper murders in London and it was speculated that the program had prompted someone to carry out a similar murder, resulting in Linda Donaldson's murder and mutilation.
The police said, 'We are looking for a maniac, a sadistic killer who could strike again. The type of man who could do this to another human being defies description. The mutilation was probably done in a bid to conceal identity'.
It was later reported on 25 October 1988 that the police received a report from another prostitute in Liverpool who said that she had been confronted by a knifeman in Liverpool. She said that the incident happened in the early hours of Sunday 23 October 1988. It was reported that she had fled for help from someone in a parked car after the knifeman had put the knife to her throat and had demanded his money back. The police said that the alleged incident had happened at about 2.30am near the university buildings in Mount Pleasant.
The police said that they were running a 'crime pattern analysis' to check with other police forces to see if there were any similarities with other murders or attacks in the country. It was reported that the police had put together a team of 250 officers in the hunt for her murderer.
The police said that they had interviewed 415 kerb crawlers, identified 103 of Linda Donaldson's former clients, spoken to just under 10,000 people and examined 6,000 cars during their investigation. The police noted that one of the problems with the investigation was the fact that many of the men that picked up prostitutes in the red-light district came from outside the Merseyside area.
The police later arrested a person inside Liverpool Magistrates court in relation to her murder, but they later released him without charge.
They said that they were also interested in speaking to an anonymous caller that called the incident room on the Sunday night 6 November 1988 but then rang off.
They said that they were also interested in tracing two of Linda Donaldson's known clients, both said to have been businessmen and to have been well off, one of them driving a Jaguar XJS. The police said that one of the men was Linda Donaldson's Tuesday visitor and the other was a regular client that Linda Donaldson would see on Thursdays. The police said that they were interested in the men coming forward so that they could be eliminated from their inquiries. The police added that they believed they knew the identity of the two men but wanted to give them the chance to come forward voluntarily to save them the embarrassment of them calling at their homes.
Linda Donaldson was divorced and shared a flat with a friend but was said to have kept in regular contact with her family. It was said that she had been born and educated in Crosby 'to a reasonably high standard'.
see Oldest Prof
see Liverpool Echo - Tuesday 25 October 1988
see Aberdeen Evening Express - Friday 21 October 1988
see Liverpool Echo - Monday 07 November 1988
see Liverpool Echo - Thursday 12 October 1989
see Liverpool Echo - Wednesday 09 November 1988