Unsolved Murders

Jeanette Kempton

Age: 31

Sex: female

Date: 18 Feb 1989

Place: Wangford, Suffolk

Jeanette Kempton was found dead 118 miles away from her Brixton home in a ditch at Wangford, near Southwold in Suffolk, on Saturday 18 February 1989.

She was found in a ditch on the Earl of Stanfords estate by two men that had been out hunting for rabbits. The estate was twelve miles south of Lowestoft. They said that at first they thought they had found a tailors dummy.

Her body was partially decomposed. It was said that she had been beaten about the head and strangled. It was noted that she had been beaten about the head sufficiently violently to have caused her brain damage and that it was possible that she had been strangled two days after that.

The pathologist that examined her body said that he thought that she had been in the ditch where she was found for up to two weeks.

Her cause of death was said to have been strangulation.

It was further noted that when she was found that she had enough alcohol in her system to put her four times over the drink drive limit.

The police said that there were five suspects in her murder at one point, including her ex-husband, but no one was convicted.

Jeanette Kempton had lived in Brixton, London and had disappeared from home about two weeks earlier on Thursday 2 February 1989. She had lived in Treherne Court on the Milefield Estate in Brixton.

Jeanette Kempton was also known as Jean Kempton and had been divorced for several years. However, because they had two children, her ex-husband used to visit frequently and often stayed there overnight. They had been teenage sweethearts and had married in 1973 when Jeanette Kempton was 16, but she had suffered from depression and had divorced in 1990.

Jeanette Kempton was at her flat in Treherne Court at 8.30am with her husband who was having a day off work and after she sent their two children off to school they went shopping on Brixton Road and after that went to the Loughborough Hotel public house.

Jeanette Kempton was described as a heavy drinker and it was said that she would often spend whole afternoons in the pub.

When they had started drinking at about 12.30pm they were nearly the only customers in the pub, but they were soon joined by a friend who had come into the pub to cash a cheque for £300. However, after cashing the cheque, he gave the money to Jeanette Kempton for her to look after as the friend said that he would only go and loose it. He said that he also loaned her a couple of pounds until the following Thursday.

It was noted that Jeanette Kempton put the £300 in her purse, but the purse and the money were never found.

At about 4.30pm Jeanette Kempton's ex-husband left the Loughborough to go and get their kids some dinner, saying that he would come and pick Jeanette Kempton up later. However, he said that when he did come back three hours later, Jeanette Kempton had gone.

Jeanette Kempton had gone with her friend at 6pm to the Five Ways Florist shop in Loughborough Road, which was a few doors down from the Loughborough where she collected a wreath for a funeral the following day. The wreath was said to have been worth £22.

Jeanette Kempton and her friend continued drinking at the Loughborough until 7.15pm when the friend that had given her the money said that he wanted to go home whilst Jeanette Kempton said that she wanted to go to the Union. They left the pub together, but the friend got in his car outside and went home.

It was noted that Jeanette Kempton didn't make it to the Union, and it was not known whether she had made it to any other pubs nearby.

She was last seen walking along Evendale Road with the wreath that she had picked up earlier.

She was expected the following day at the funeral of a friend on 3 February 1989 but didn't show up.

Her ex-husband said that Jeanette Kempton often saw other men and said that it was not unusual for her to go on drinking benders and to not come home for several days at a time. However, after he hadn't seen her for a week, he reported her disappearance to the police.

It was not known how Jeanette Kempton got from Brixton to Suffolk where her body was found, but it was thought that she probably made it in some way along the A12. It was also not known whether she had been alive or dead when she made the journey.

On Sunday 5 February 1989 a couple of local people from Suffolk said that they saw a dark coloured rental van driving near to where her body was found. They said that it had smoked glass rear windows and an 01 telephone number on it and the word 'Rental' or 'Hire' on it and commented to each other over what a van from London was doing there.

On Monday 6 February 1989 at about 6.30am an estate worker said that he had been mixing up cow food in a barn when he saw a strange car pass through the farm he was working at, Park Farm. He said that it was a white four-door saloon car and that a woman, possibly of Jeanette Kempton's description had been sat in the passenger seat. He said that as it looked unusual, he went out of the shed he was in and watched it pass out the other side and drive off into the estate.

About two hours later at Church Farm, 11.30am, another resident was doing some raking about 400 yads from where Jeanette Kempton's body was later discovered and said that he heard some screaming and some music. He said that it alarmed him and that he went into his house to get his wife but that by the time she came down both the screaming and the music had stopped. Jeanette Kempton's body was discovered about twelve days later.

The police noted that the dark van, white car and screams and music might all have been unconnected, but they needed to identify who they were for elimination purposes.

The police said that a lot of Jeanette Kempton's belongings were missing when her body was found, including:

  • Black high-heeled shoes.
  • Maroon coat.
  • Purse.
  • Wreath that she had bought on the evening she was last seen.
  • Ring with dark stone surrounded by imitation diamonds.
  • Gold bracelet with a gold 22 carat Britannia sovereign embedded.
  • Two gold rings.

It was noted that Jeanette Kempton had no connections to Norfolk and Suffolk and the police said that the fact that she was found dumped in a ditch was totally out of context.

They said that there were no clues, no witnesses or any forensics to help them at all.

The police said they spoke to 3,500 people and took over 400 statements and said that at the height of the enquiry that they had had more than 50 officers working on the case.

Jeanette Kempton's inquest was concluded on 20 November 1989 with a verdict of unlawful killing.

Her case was reviewed by the police in 2009, 2016 and again in 2019. The 2019 review was said to have included a full forensic review.

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