Date: 20 Dec 1992
Brenda Howe was found dead in Wake Valley Lake in Loughton, Essex on 20 December 1992.
She was naked when she was found and it was determined that her death was due to asphyxiation, probably due to suffocation and that she had been dead when she had entered the water. She was found by two fishermen.
Her elbows and face were found to be bruised and the doctors noted that there was no evidence of sexual interference.
She had lived in Beresford Road, Walthamstow, with her husband and child.
Her husband, who was a mechanic, was tried for her murder at the Old Bailey but acquitted. The main prosecution witness was the husbands 7-year-old son.
The husband said that Brenda Howe had gone out shopping at 5.30am on 18 December 1992 after an argument and that he didn't see her again.
At his trial his 7-year-old son gave evidence saying that he had been woken up in the middle of the night by his parents quarrelling. He said that he heard his father say, 'shut-up' twice before the quarrel and said that when he looked through a hole in the bedroom wall he saw his father on top of Brenda Howe.
The hole in the bedroom wall was made when shelves had been put up. However, it was claimed at the trial that he could not have seen all that he said that he saw through the hole.
He said that after the quarrel he saw his mother sleeping on the bedroom floor with her eyes closed.
The son said that the argument had been over who had pushed who out of bed, but Brenda Howe's husband said that they had been arguing over her father having taken out a loan on his house to start a business.
The 7-year-old said, 'One thought the other was lying but they were both telling the truth'.
He said, 'She rolled out of bed first. He rolled on top of her. Her face was turned to the side. She looked asleep. Dad was looking face down. I saw him lift her up and put her on the bed. He had one hand under her legs and the other hand under her head. Mum didn't wake up at all. She just carried on sleeping. Her mouth was open'. Whilst giving his evidence the 7-year-old son used a plastic doll to demonstrate what he had seen.
However, the 7-year-old son later said that what he had seen might have been a dream. The 7-year-old son also said that later his uncle made a bet with him that if they went back to his old bedroom and looked through the hole again that they would not be able to see what he thought he had seen. When they went back, the 7-year-old boy's aunt laid down where he had said that his mother had been sleeping on the floor, and he found that he could not see her through the hole whilst looking from his bunk and agreed that he must have made a mistake. He said, 'Uncle won the bet. But he didn't give me any money'. At the trial the 7-year-old son agreed with the barrister that questioned him in that he had, 'made a mistake and got a bit confused' and said, 'I think I might have had a dream'. When the defence barrister said to the 7-year-old son 'You might have dreamed some of those things about your dad and mum?', the 7-year-old son replied, 'Yeah'.
When the uncle gave evidence at the trial he said that he had doubted that it was possible that the 7-year-old boy could have seen what said he said he had seen when he had helped a police photographer take pictures in the house for the defence, but said that he didn't say anything at the time. However, he said that after the 7-year-old son had given his evidence, he had said to him, 'Something is worrying me. What you said you saw is not possible. I bet your pocket money'. The uncle said that they all then went back to the house to try and look through the hole and said, 'He got up there. He looked through the hole. He looked in every way you possibly can. I could see he was getting agitated because you can't see through. He was getting agitated because he could not see what he said he had'. The uncle said that later, the 7-year-old son said to him as they were driving along elsewhere, 'Uncle, you now proved to me I couldn't see through the hole', and then admitted that he must have dreamt it all.
At the trial it was heard that Brenda Howe used to take her old aged father who was deaf to a pond in the forest that she was found in to fish.