Unsolved Murders

Rachel Applethwaite

Age: 23

Sex: female

Date: 23 Jan 1987

Place: Sumner Place, Chelsea, London

Rachel Applethwaite was found mutilated in a lock up garage in Sumner Place, Chelsea on 26 January 1987.

She was a prostitute and had lived in a DHSS hotel in Earls Court with her 20-year-old boyfriend. They had been together for six months and would argue frequently, usually about money. She had moved to London four years earlier and had worked as a prostitute ever since.

She was described as having been loud and aggressive and to have had an increasing drink problem.

On the afternoon of Saturday 24 January 1987 Rachel Applethwaite watched television in their hotel bedroom until 6.30pm when they went out to look for business.

They arrived at Cleveland Terrace shortly before 7pm and was approached shortly after by a man in an orange mini car and got into the car after which her boyfriend had a look in the car, noting that he always checked out the customers.

It was said that she usually spent 25 to 30 minutes with each customer, but it was two hours before she returned to Cleveland Terrace, around 9pm at which time she was drunk and her boyfriend was furious and they had a row that was witnessed by a cab driver. During the row Rachel Applethwaite tried to get in the cab but her boyfriend pulled her out and they went off in different directions.

Her boyfriend got back to the hotel at about 11pm on 24 January 1987 and said that he didn't see Rachel Applethwaite again.

However, Rachel Applethwaite was heard of the following day, Sunday 25 January 1987 at about 12.30pm when she called her father who had been visiting his father at an old aged persons home in Oxfordshire and told him that she wasn't staying at the hotel anymore and had been staying with some friends. However, her father said that he didn't know where she was ringing from or why she called him that day.

She was later seen at about 9.30pm that evening, Sunday 25 January 1987 with another man and a girl in the Kings Head public house in Edgeware Road, London at which time it was noted that she was heading for a row with another women in the pub. It was heard that two girls in the pub had been laughing at her and that Rachel Applethwaite had been wearing a old,  fashioned two piece outfit that was too big for her. She was also noted for attracting further ridicule at the pool table and after a time she went over to one of the girls that had been laughing at her and they had a fight which it was noted everyone in the pub would have noticed. However, the fight was broken up at about 10.30pm when closing time was rung.

However, after her girlfriend went to the toilet she left the pub and it was not known where she went and she was not seen alive again.

She was seen to leave the put clutching a white plastic bag.

It was thought that the man that she had been with had followed her out shortly after although he has yet to be traced and it was not known whether they had met up again outside. The police appealed for anyone that had been in Edgeware Road that night that might have seen Rachel Applethwaite, noting that she had been very drunk and suggested that she might have been pushed into a car there.

Rachel Applethwaite was found the following day dead in the lock-up garage in Sumner Place, Chelsea at about 12pm when a woman that had been away for 24 hours returned to her garage.

It was thought that her body had been dumped there from a car.

She had been strangled and her boots were missing. However, she had also been beaten about the head and mutilated and it was thought possible that her injuries had been caused by a chainsaw.

The pathologist said that although she had been strangled, that it was the attack on her that had caused her death.

A detective said, 'The head injuries were horrific. Two or more instruments were used to batter this girl, and one of them, we cannot rule out, was a chainsaw'.

It was noted that the oversized clothing that she was found to have been wearing was a change of clothing that did not belong to her and that she didn’t have when she had been staying at the hotel with her boyfriend the day before and it was not known where it came from. The label in the back of the outfit had been Warren Petites and had two other markings in pen, the name 'P Swarez' and the initials 'TK'. It was thought that the outfit had been a piece of uniform used by someone in either the hotel or catering trade.

The police appealed for the man that had been drinking with her on the night of 25 January 1987 in the Kings Head public house to come forward. He was described as:

  • Continental appearance, possibly Greek or Arab.
  • 5ft 9in tall.
  • Aged 35 to 45.
  • Black hair with specs of grey in it.
  • Wearing gold rimmed spectacles.
  • Possibly wearing a ski-jacket.
  • Wearing a large medallion ring on a finger on his left hand.

Her murder was linked to the murder of Marina Monte who was found murdered the previous day off Scrubs Lane. Marina Monte had also been a prostitute and had worked in the same area as Rachel Applethwaite. They had both been murdered without a day of each other.

In March 1987 a Mexican diplomat was questioned for 30 hours over the murders of Marina Monte and Rachel Applethwaite. However, he said, 'I am innocent' and was later released without charge.

Another 32-year-old man was later questioned over the murders in South Africa. He claimed that he had been beaten in the cells for two days by South African authorities whilst officers from Scotland Yard were in the room next door. the man had lived in Britton Close, Wellgarth Way, Hampstead Garden Suburb. He was said to have spent 14 months on remand in connection with a large scale fraud and was said  to have assaulted a prostitute in London, robbed a prostitute, lived off immoral earnings and procuring a woman to become a prostitute. However, the charges were later dropped.

His counsel said, 'He has always denied committing the murder and any other offence although he believes the police are convinced he is guilty of murder'.

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

see www.courtnewsuk.co.uk

see YouTube

see Sunday Mirror - Sunday 01 February 1987

see Sunday Independent (Dublin) - Sunday 01 March 1987