Date: 6 Jun 1991
Ruth Penelope Bell, generally known as Penny Bell, was stabbed 50 times in her car in the car park of Gurnell Grove Leisure Centre in Greenford on THursday 6 June 1991.
She had left home earlier that morning at about 9.40am and was found dead in her car in the car park of Gurnell Swimmoning Pool at 12.15pm and it was thouhg that she had been murdered at about 10.30am, about an hour after she had left home.
She was stabbed in her blue Jaguar XJS, Registration number E313 MYP, with a knife 3 or 4 inches long in broad daylight but there were few witnesses. She had defensive injuries indicating that she had put up a fight.
It was thought that she had been murdered at about 10.30pm.
A lorry driver six months later reported seeing a blonde woman struggling with a man in a Jaguar earlier but was not able to give any more details.
After a police reconstruction broadcasted on television and an appeal the police said that they were disappointed in the number of people that came forward. The police said, 'The response has been awful. We are very disappointed. There was no response from people who may have seen her on the A40, one or two sightings have been reported from the Greedford Road area and only two from the car park since the reconstruction'.
The police noted that the murder took place in broad daylight but no one saw a thing. They added, 'It is very frustrating. The murderer must have had to destroy his bloodstained clothes, someone somewhere must know who did it or at least have suspisions'.
They said that they were interested in hearing from anyone that had been in the car park at Gurnell Swimming Pool between 9am and 12 midday.
THey said that they were still trying to rtrace two cars tht were seen at Gurnell Swimming Pool on the day of the murder, a black Peugeot 205 that was seen parked awkawardly near the scene of the crime and a silver estate car that was seen parked near to Penny Bell's Jaguar car.
A witness that later came forward said that they had seen a man in a white shirt with dark toe get into her Jaguar car less than an hour before she as murdered. A woman that had been walking her dog in Black Park in Iver, about a five minute drive from Penny Bell's house said that she saw a man waiting by a bronze or brown coloured car about 9.45am, five minutes after Penny Bell was known to have left home, in a layby on Fulmer Common Road. She said that she then saw a blue Jaguar car pull up and the man get in . She said that he was smartly dressed in a light shirt and tie with dark trousers, about 5ft 10in tall, about 48 years old, with a medium build.
Six months after the murder, a lorry man came forward to say that he saw Penny Bell's Jaguar driving along at a snails pace along the road to with her hazard lights on near Gurnell Swimming Pool and that as he passed her Penny Bell looked at him and mouthed 'help me'. However, he ignored it. The man said that he saw that there was a man in the front passengers seat whoc he described as beig in his early 30's with dark swept-back hair and having a mole on his left cheek. He said that the man had been wearing a jacket, a white shirt with tie, and had had a gold ring on his left hand and a breacelt.
The lorry driver who said he saw Penny Bell driving along in her blue Jaguar said that she was driving slowlt y and erractically with her hazard lights on said that she appeared to be trying to park in an available space on the side of the road but would then move back into the road and continue driving along. The lorry driver said that he assumed that she was learngin to drive and said that when he overtook her he looked to see that there was a man in a suit in the passenger seat whoch had his hand on the steering wheel. He said that they stopped at some traffic lights and that Penny Bell then turned off into Ruisip Road East.
The police said tht it was hard to say what had been going on as Penny Bell was seen to drive along erratically, noting that she might have been trying to draw attention to herself, or that she might have been having an arguement with the passenger over a parking space.
Penny Bell was a mother of two and was married to an Estate Agent and had lived in Baker's Wood, near Denham, Buckinghamshire. It was noted that her husband had previous had an eleven-year homosexual relationship before another man before he had met Penny Bell.
She had run an employment agency but had previously worked for the Samaritans. She had been working at AS Franklins in Shafesbury Avenue, South Harrow at the time as well as being a partner in Coverstaff Ltd, an employment agency in Kilburn.
It was noted that at the time of the murder, Penny Bell and her husband had been having extensive renovations on their home, which was worth £100,000 and that Penny Bell had withdrawn £8,5000 from her joint account with her husband on 3 June 1991 which was presumed to have been used to pay the builders, but it was said that she had never withdrawn large sums like that before. However, the money was unaccounted for.
On the morning of the murder her husband said that he had waved Penny Bell off as he left for work at 8.40am, but that she had not waved back, but that he he put that down to the fact that there had been disruptions in the kitchen which was being renovated at the time, saying that there was a lot going on.
It was thought that Penny Bell had then later left their home in her Jaguar car at about 9.40am which was the time she usually left having shortly before tld the builders at her home that she was late for a 9.50am appointment. However, it was noted that no record of the appointment or details was found in her diary and it was not known who she was meeting or where.
A verdict of unlawful killing was returned at her inquest.
Shortly before she had gone she had been given some wood block and wall paper samples for her to consider with regards to the renovation of her house which she took off with her.
When she left, an electrician who saw her go said that she had appeared nornal and casual.
Her usual route to her job in Kilburn would have taken her along the A40.
It was thought that she was next seen at about 9.45am by the woman in Black Park whoc said she had seen a man get into her car.
It was thought that she was next seen by the lorry driver driving erratically along the road with her hazard lights on before she arrived at Gurnell Swimming Pool where she parked up in the car parlk.
Her car was later seen by a woman in the car park, about 10.45m that had been walking along who said that her hazard lights were on and that her windscreen wipers were going, which she said she thought was odd, but said that she didn't look inthe car.
A man in a suit was seen leaving the car park at about 10.45pm. A woman that saw him said that he looked unusually smart and didn't look like he was going swmimming and had no kit. The woman said that one side of his face seemed disfigure in saome way.
At about the same time a woman whoc was driving onto Ruislip Road East, at 10.45am, said that she saw a car coming along fast but thought that she cold pull out befire he got to her which she said she did, but said that he was driving fast and close bhind her and was flashing his lights and trying to get round her, but said that she didn't pull over as she was quite angry about his driving. She said that the car was a dark blue car.
Penny Bell was later seen apparently sitting motionless in her car at about 11pm, but the person that saw her thought that she was asleep.
The police were later notifed at 12.15pm after he was found to be dead in her car.
When the examined the car they found the wallpaper sample spreadout in the front of the car and her handbag was behind the front passenger seat with her purse still in it.
THe police said that they thought that Penny Bell might have been looking at the walll paper sample shortly before her murder, either as she was showing it to another person or looking at it whilst she was waiting for someone.
The forensic experts said that they thought that Penny Bell had been stabbed multiple times by a person in the passenger seat whoc had then got out and stabbed her again through the drivers window. However, it was noted that the envelope that had previously been seen that was thought to have had the £8,500 in cash in it was missing.
However, the police said that they didn't think that robbery was the motive nd that it was very likely that Penny Bell knew her murderer.
Whilst it was noted that the leaisure centre was busy at the time and that the car park had been virtually full, no one saw the murder. It wasnoted that there had been a high hedge that had blocked generall visibility and that Penny Bell's Jaguar car was virtually sound proofed which would have prevented anyone hearing her cry out for hilp. It was also noted that the car had only had a small rear window through which her murder might have been seen by anyone.
THe police said that they had dedicated 2,700 man-days to the investigation, costing £150,000 and had taken over 820 statements and interviewed over 3,000 people.