Unsolved Murders

Tina Bell

Age: 18

Sex: female

Date: 3 Jun 1989

Place: ICI Cassel Works, Billingham, Teesside

Tina Bell was last seen alive on Saturday 3 June 1989 when she popped out to a friend's house at about 8.20pm

Her remains were later found on 21 April 1990 on waste ground at the ICI Cassel Works, Billingham, Teesside by two youths out shooting pigeons. An attempt had been made to dissolve her bones with a corrosive chemical.

The site where her remains were found was about a quarter of a mile away from her home.

She was last seen by two men, one of whom later went on to murder Julie Hogg in Billingham on 16 November 1989 although he was not convicted of her murder until 2006 following two collapsed trials in the early 1990s. The other man that had seen her leave soon after moved to Hebden Bridge where Lindsay Rimer, a 14-year-old girl was murdered four years later. However, the man that moved to Hebden Bridge died in 2005 aged 52. It was later considered that the coincidental nature of these events in the light of Tina Bell's unresolved death was significant.

Tina Bell had lived in a flat above a fruit shop in Crescent Avenue, Billingham. Shortly before she left, she promised her little brother that she would join him camping in their back garden.

After she left, there were several sightings of her during the evening of Saturday 3 June 1989 around Mill Lane.

Shortly after her remains were discovered the police said that they were anxious to trace a lorry driver that they thought might be able to help. The lorry was said to have been parked in the Mill Lane area of Billingham and to have stayed overnight, but the driver was never traced. The lorry had been parked up overnight on 3 June 1989 in Mill Lane between Rydal Avenue and Mill Lane shops and it was thought that there was a strong possibility that the driver had spent the night in the cab. The lorry had a tarpaulin covered load. The driver was seen by witnesses and was described as being 20-25 years old, with dark hair, possibly a crew cut.

It was also thought that Tina Bell had been seen early the following morning with a man, the early morning of Sunday 4 June 1989 at 2.30am, after a witness said that they thought they saw Tina Bell, or a girl that looked like her, and the man arguing outside Mill Lane shops in Billingham. The man was described as being about 17-years-old, 5ft 4in tall, with a slim build, fair hair which was like a grown-out skin-head. He was said to have been wearing a shiny tracksuit top, jeans and dark brown calf length boots. The girl was described as being aged between 17 and 18, about 5ft 2in tall, with short fair hair but with a long fringe, having been wearing jeans and a light-coloured top. The police stated that the description of the girl was similar to that of Tina Bell and so they were looking into the possibility that it was her, noting that if it was not, then it was important for the couple to come forward so hat they could be eliminated from the police enquiries.

The police further stated that they were interested in speaking to anyone that had been in the Mill Lane area on the Saturday night.

Tina Bell's skull and collar bone were found on the waste site on 21 April 1990 and forensically tested and confirmed to belong to her. It was thought that she had been murdered the same weekend that she vanished.

Following the discovery, the police made extensive searches in the surrounding areas with specially trained dogs, but nothing more than the two bones and her skull were ever found.

The police also appealed for people responsible for empty houses in the area to check them for signs of suspicious activity as well people responsible for storing large quantities of chemicals to ensure that they were still intact and accounted for. The police said, 'Anyone who has had a large quantity of chemicals stolen from the area in the last year and not reported the theft should do so immediately'.

The police also toured the area where Tina Bell lived in cars with loudspeakers in the search for clues. The police said that a patrol car circled the area around Crescent Avenue at about the same time that the school children were leaving school noting that Tina Bell was well known to a number of them

It was said that after she was murdered that her remains had been dissolved in some kind of chemical and the police said that that could have taken place almost anywhere, including a house, garden, shed, or an allotment.

After Tina Bell had left and was reported missing to the police by her parents, they were told by the police that they thought that it was likely that Tina Bell had left of her own free will. However, her parents said that they didn't believe that as Tina Bell had taken no money or clothes with her, leaving in just the clothes that she was wearing. She had also been due back at work in Hartlepool two days later but didn't show up for that either, or alert anyone.

Following her disappearance several sightings of Tina Bell were reported to the police, including one of her being seen in September 1989 at Middlesbrough bus station with a girl that had a tattoo of an eagle on the back of her right hand. The girl was described as being about 18-years-old and with short black hair. The police said that it was a possibility that Tina Bell had spent some time with the girl after she disappeared and before she died. The police also distributed posters and leaflets across the area in the search for the other girl.

However, the sighting was unconfirmed, and the police later said that they thought that it was more likely that she had been murdered soon after she disappeared.

The remains of Tina Bell were later buried at St Cuthbert’s Church in Billingham in October 1990.

Her inquest which took place in 1992 returned an open verdict.

The police said that they followed thousands of lines of enquiry.

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

see www.gazettelive.co.uk

see Gazette Live

see Gazette Live

see The Yorkshire Post

see Newcastle Journal - Friday 18 May 1990

see Newcastle Journal - Saturday 26 May 1990

see Newcastle Journal - Wednesday 09 May 1990

see Newcastle Journal - Wednesday 30 May 1990

see Newcastle Journal - Friday 11 May 1990

see Newcastle Journal - Friday 11 May 1990

see Newcastle Journal - Wednesday 04 July 1990

see Newcastle Journal - Friday 18 May 1990

see Newcastle Journal - Tuesday 15 May 1990