Unsolved Murders

Joy Hewer

Age: 52

Sex: female

Date: 17 Oct 1995

Place: St Davids Court, Parkstone Road, Walthamstow, North London

Joy Hewer was sexually assaulted and stabbed to death at her flat.

She was stabbed multiple times in the chest and sexually assaulted with a blunt object, strangled and set on fire, and was found dead in her bedroom in her flat on the sixth floor in St Davids Court, Walthamstow, London by the fire brigade who had been called to put out a fire at her home.

Two fires had been deliberately started in her flat, one in the lounge and the other in her bedroom.

It was noted that Joy Hewer had been in her bed in her nightie when she was murdered.

She had been a primary school teacher at Woodhouse Primary School, but retired at 46 on health grounds. As well as being a church goer, she also volunteered at a variety of places including the London Healing Mission, charity events and soup kitchens.

The police said that there were no signs of a forced entry into her flat and that they thought that she might have known her murderer. It was also suggested that the person that she let in might have then let another person in who might have been the murderer. It was thought that whoever had gone to her flat that they had drunk coffee together beforehand. It was noted that two used coffee cups were found left out, and further noted that Joy Hewer always washed up indicating that someone else had been with her.

Her family stressed that for many reasons they were certain that Joy Hewer was not in a relationship with a man or would have taken one home.

Her family said that Joy Hewer would never have let anyone enter the building or into her flat without first talking to them on the intercom and then checking them through the spyhole in her door, noting that even then, she would have still had the chain on her door when she first opened it.

Amongst the evidence, the police found CCTV footage of a man seen entering Joy Hewer's flat at around 10.30pm on the night she died. He was described as white, aged 30 to 40 years, with short hair and had been wearing a light-coloured jacket.

Earlier in the afternoon Joy Hewer had been to the London Healing Mission, in Notting Hill where she carried out voluntary work. She was seen leaving the centre at about 3.30pm and later seen walking towards Pembridge Road before visiting a chemist in Wood Street, Walthamstow near her home at 5.50pm.

After returning home Joy Hewer was said to have called several people, including her brother at 9.45pm who was not at home, but instead she spoke to her nephew who was there instead.

A neighbour said that he heard loud noises or banging coming from her flat at about 10.30pm.

It was thought that by 11pm Joy Hewer would have either been dead or close to death.

The fire brigade were next called at 11.18pm from a public phone on Fulbourne Road. The man had called the fire brigade after seeing smoke coming from her flat.

The police said that they were looking to identify the man that had called the fire brigade as well as a person that had been waiting at the bus stop there who had spoken during the call, stating that they might have vital information that could help them in their inquiries. The man had been heard asking the woman what road they had been standing on. The woman at the bus top would have been waiting for either a 212 bus to Walthamstow Central or a W16 bus to Leytonstone.

The police were first notified of the incident by the fire brigade who called them at 11.45pm on 17 October 1995.

Joy Hewer was a Christian woman who attended several churches in the Walthamstow and Notting Hill areas and was described as living a quiet and peaceful life.

Her family said that they knew little of her work at the London Healing Mission, but noted that it had some very odd healing methods that had been written about in the Independent Newspaper in an article on fundamentalist Christianity that was producing charismatic Christian groups across the country that focussed on returning to the pure church of the New Testament and could help people fight supernatural beings such as the demons of masturbation, oral sex, and smoking through exorcisms and would align satanism along with acupuncture, women's rights, vegetarianism and even Roman Catholicism. The article then went on to refer to a Reverend who had been at the London Healing Mission where Joy Hewer had worked the day she was murdered, who was removed from his post a year earlier in 1994 and defrocked for sexually assaulting women during exorcisms with a crucifix in order to rid them of demons that were supposed to have entered their bodies through their genitals.

During their reinvestigation into her murder in 2015, the police said, 'As a result of our investigations we are sure Joy would have been cautious about letting someone enter her flat late at night. There were no signs of a forced entry and it may be that she knew the person who entered her flat that night. Our forensic teams also found two used coffee cups within the address. After two decades we realise a lot of time has passed and someone who may have not spoken out in 1995 may feel they can come forward now, 20 years on. We hope that this latest appeal will enable someone with the final piece to the jigsaw to speak out'.

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