Unsolved Murders

Michael Williams

Age: 43

Sex: male

Date: 27 Aug 1988

Place: Highgate Wood, North London

Michael Williams was found dead in Highgate Wood on the morning of Saturday 27 August 1988.

He had been hit in the throat.

He was last seen on the Friday 26 August 1988 before the August bank holiday weekend. His body was found the following morning 27 August 1988 at about 7.40am in Highgate Wood near to where he lived.

He had gone to a pub in Pimlico where he worked for the Home Office on the Friday afternoon with some work colleagues after which he got the tube home to Highgate.

The following day his credit card was used in a tandoori restaurant in Southgate.

It was thought that the motive was robbery but there was also a possible sexual motive as he was a bisexual.

It was also thought that the person that killed him might have been a karate expert because the force required to cause the damage to his throat was significant and karate experts said that it would take years of experience to be able to cause that much damage.

Michael Williams had lived in Highgate all his life and had been married for 18 years and had a two-year-old daughter. He was also an active member of the local church.

It was heard that he tried to spend as much time with his daughter as he could, and he worked flexi-hours and often came home early to look after her.

Michael Williams had worked for the Home Office in Horseferry house in Pimlico and had helped to set up the Police National Computer.

He had been at work at 6pm on the Friday 26 August 1988 at about 6pm when his wife called him at his work to ask how long he was going to be until he got home and he told her that he was going to work for about another hour and that he expected to be home for about 8pm. It was said that he had been under a lot of pressure at work at the time and that for the previous week he had been staying late each evening to finish a particular project.

However, shortly after a colleague convinced him to go out for drinks with some of the other staff and they went off together to the Paviours Arms in Page Street, Pimlico where they stayed drinking until about 11.15pm. Michael Williams left for home at about 11.15pm with a colleague, taking the same tube together, with his colleague changing trains at Victoria station at about 11.35pm and leaving Michael Williams on the tube train to continue his journey, which was the last time that he was seen alive. It was noted that the Paviours Arms was demolished in 2003.

It was noted that when he had left the office and gone to the Paviours Arms Michael Williams had taken his work things with him in a black and white plastic bag with the initials i-D in white in a black star which was itself in a white circle on a black square. The plastic bag was known to have contained a black Vodapage radio-pager, a computer manual and his Home Office pass. The bag and contents were all missing when his body was found as was his gold signet ring and a distinctive Rolex watch that he had been wearing. The Rolex watch was noted as having been made for him about 17-years earlier. It was noted for having a peculiar clasp around the face of the watch.

It was thought that from Victoria tube station that Michael Williams had continued on through Green Park and Oxford Circus to Warren Street or Euston where he would have changed onto the Northern line at which time it would have been about 11.45pm. From there he would have got on the train to Highgate, passing through Mornington Crescent, Camden Town, Kentish Town, Tufnell Park, Archway and then on to Highgate.

However, it was noted that it was by no means certain that he did take his usual route home that night and it was thought that he might have met someone on the way.

It was noted that if he had got off at Highgate Station that his walk home would have taken him past Highgate Wood where he was found dead the following morning.

However, it was thought that he might have gone on through to East Finchley and got off there as a ticket collector said that he saw someone that looked like him there at about 12.30am on the Saturday morning 27 August, noting that he had asked him where the toilets where, noting that he told him that they were closed at that time.

Highgate Wood was noted as being a popular spot, even early in the mornings. His body was found by a woman at 7.40am as she walked her dog. He was dead on the ground to the side of a main path through the wood off of Lanchester Road.

He had been killed by a single blow to the throat.

The police said that they didn't know if he was killed there or whether he had been killed elsewhere and his body then dumped there. It was said that several people said that they had used the path even earlier that morning at about 6.05am but had not seen his body. It was said that at about 6.05am a man had walked his dog past the spot where Michael Williams's body was found but said that he didn't see anything. However, he added that his dog had continued along the path and round the corner and that when he followed it he saw that it was barking at a strange man that was standing there motionless and staring into space as if in a trance. He said that his dog, an Alsatian dog, was barking at the man and attacking him, but that the man was not reacting at all and was just standing there motionless with his back to a tree. He said that the man looked as though he was hypnotised and that it was absolutely unreal how he stood there without moving.

The man was described as being about 6ft tall, white, with a slim build, longish brown hair and a beard of the same colour.

At about 6.50am a man was opening the main gates to the wood but said that he didn't see the strange man nor did he see Michael Williams's body.

Another person also said that they had walked along the path at 6.55am and also saw nothing by the path.

As such, the police said that they thought that Michael Williams's body was dumped there between 7am and 7.40am, possibly from a car.

It was further noted that on Sunday 28 August 1988 Michael Williams's credit card was used at the New Arjun Tandoori restaurant at 37 Friern Barnet Road in Southgate, about three miles away from Highgate Wood. The card was a Lloyds Bank Access card. the police said that they wanted to trace whoever had used the card, noting that even if it was only to eliminate them from the murder investigation as they might not have been the person that attacked Michael Williams and might have come into possession of the card through some other means, such as finding it somewhere or buying it.

Whilst the police said that they thought that robbery was the motive, they also said that there was a sexual aspect to the case as Michael Williams was bisexual and they thought that he might have met someone and even left them before he was attacked and they appealed for such a person to come forward.

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