Unsolved Murders

Elsa Hannaway

Age: 37

Sex: female

Date: 30 Oct 1987

Place: Whitworth Park, Manchester

Elsa Hannaway was found naked in Whitworth Park, Rusholme and later died in hospital on 30 October 1987.

She had been beaten and raped. It was thought that she had been kicked unconscious and then dragged 100 yards into the park where she was raped. She had severe internal injuries, brain damage and lost a tooth. However, it was noted that she had been the victim of such a horrifying sex ordeal that detectives refused to reveal the full extent of her injuries.

The weather at the time was described as having been freezing.

She was found in the park by a jogger out for an early morning dawn run.

She was taken to hospital where surgeons spent six hours trying to save her life.

The police said that they were hunting for a startled black man that had been seen running out of the park on the Oxford Road side at 3.10am on the Friday night and a drawing of him was later released. The man had also been seen standing over Elsa Hannaway. The witness had seen Elsa Hannaway on her hands and knees shouting ‘oh my God’ and trying to fight the man off.

It was thought that the murderer had run off with Elsa Hannaway's bracelet and the police released an image of what it looked like. It was gold and had been about six inches long. The police appealed for anyone that had been offered such a chain to come forward.

It was noted that during the struggle what was thought to have been the murderers Sekonda watch had come loose and was later found near Elsa Hannaway's body along with her clothes. It was thought that Elsa Hannaway might have ripped the watch off the man during the struggle. Pictures of the watch were released in the hope of tracing the man.

The man was described as:

  • West Indian and of Rastafarian appearance.
  • Shoulder length black hair styled in dreadlocks.
  • Early 20s.
  • 5ft 8in to 5ft 11in tall.
  • Thin to medium build.
  • Possibly with stubbly beard.
  • Knitted hat with red, gold and green circles.

The police said that about a dozen people that had been in the park in the early hours of Friday had come forward.

However, the police said that they otherwise came up against a wall of silence. It was said that many people in Manchester’s underworld closed ranks to protect the killer and that other people refused to speak to the police on principle as they considered them racist.

They even had an appeal aired on IRS Radio, an illegal Moss Side radio station. It a noted that the fact that the radio station was raided a month later by the police didn't help get people on their side.

It was later stated at a meeting if the police monitoring committees that people had been afraid to co-operate with the police because they had let loose 'racist officers' on the community. However, the police said that they had had no complaints lodged with them. The comments came after it was heard that the police had been carrying out door to door enquiries looking for a murderer who may have been a Rastafarian.

The police said that they felt that there was a long distrust of police intentions in the area and that there was bound to be the extreme elements that held cynical views of the murder enquiry, with one detective saying, 'One teenager asked me did we really try that hard when the victim was black. It is a sad view but one that makes us more determined than ever to succeed on this inquiry'.

The police said that they were trying to account for Elsa Hannaway's movements before her death and determined at she was seen with a man around 2.15am on the Friday in Moss Lane East, Moss Side crossing the junction with Lloyd Street and said that they wanted to trace the man. The police said that they knew that Elsa Hannaway enjoyed a drink and that they thought that she might have tried to gate crash a party shortly before she was seen walking along with the man. It was said that she had been seen knocking on doors in Quinney Crescent trying to gain admission to a party. They noted that she had already been refused admission to one party and noted that people sometimes snubbed her because she was sometimes considered a nuisance when she had been drinking.

They also determined that earlier in the night she had been seen drinking at the West Indian community centre in Moss Side and at the Big Western pub, also in Moss Side. It was said that she had gone out looking for the parties after leaving the West Indian community centre after which she had returned and asked a man for a lift home but that he had told her that he had not been going in her direction.

One woman said that she had seen Elsa Hannaway as she was getting out of her car near to the entrance to the park. She said that she had seen a man and a woman on the footpath, stating, 'He grabbed her from behind and put his arms around her and pinned her arms to her side'.

The police said that they thought that her killer had also been responsible for two other rapes in the park two years earlier, that of a student nurse and a Manchester University student. The police also appealed for anyone else that might have been attacked in the area to come forward.

A detective described the murderer as 'very dangerous, devious and cunning, adding that there was a strong possibility that her murder was lined to the two earlier rapes. He said, 'It is the same area, the same hours of darkness and an attack on a lone female. The injuries sustained by the victims are very similar and the same kind of cash and jewellery was stolen from them'.

It was said that Elsa Hannaway had lain in the park unconscious for about five hours before she was discovered.

Elsa Hannaway had been a grandmother with five children and was from Saint Vincent in the West Indies. She had lived in Lydford Walk in Longsight, Manchester.

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

see truecrimeenthusiast.wordpress.com

see Manchester Evening News

see Liverpool Echo - Thursday 05 November 1987

see Liverpool Echo - Friday 30 October 1987