Date: 3 Aug 1990
Ann Heron was killed in her garden while she was sunbathing on Friday 3 August 1990. Her throat had been cut.
Her husband was tried for her murder in 2005 following a cold case review, but the case was dropped due to lack of evidence.
It was thought that her throat had been cut with something like a Stanley knife, DIY knife or scalpel. She had died from shock and loss of blood.
She had been sunbathing in the garden at the time and had been seen doing so by a person on a bus. When she was found, she was in the living room, but her sun lounger was still at the corner of her house and her radio was still playing. Her pet dog was also found sleeping nearby.
Ann Heron was found face down on the carpet with a lot of blood about her, although there was no sign of a struggle, with only a small kink in the rug in front of the fire that could easily have been caused by an ambulanceman.
The police said that there was an area, about 25 yards from the front of the house with a piece of flattened grass that looked like someone had been sunbathing at, along with a book, a bottle of suntan lotion and a pair of slip-on shoes.
A blue car was seen speeding away from her house at 5pm shortly after her murder but it was never traced.
The day was noted as having been the hottest day of the year with temperatures almost touching 100F.
Ann Heron was from Glasgow and had move to Darlington with her husband who was the director of a transport company who she had met four or ten years earlier. It was said that Ann Heron's husband had met Ann Heron whilst he was on a golfing holiday in Scotland and that that they had both left their spouses, each of them having three children, to marry.
She had been shopping earlier in the morning in Darlington around 10am with a friend and had been planning to go out later that night with the friend for a get together with a number of other girls.
She lived at Aeolian House about a mile out from Darlington on the A67 towards Middleton-St-George and after shopping went home where she later met her husband at about 12.52pm when he came home for lunch, his office being just down the road.
Her husband said that when he spoke to Ann Heron during lunch, she told him that she was going to get a couple of hours sun-bathing done as she hadn't had a chance that morning. He then left to go back to work at 2pm.
Shortly after, at about 2.30pm, one of Ann Heron's friends called and they spoke about the party that was taking place that evening and Ann Heron told the woman that she had been trying to get in touch with her for some days to tell her that her car was full and that she wouldn't be able to take her to the party.
Shortly before 3.30pm the woman on a bus that was passing Ann Heron's house said that she saw Ann Heron there in her garden sunbathing. It was said to have been the last known sighting of Ann Heron.
At about 4.45pm, a blue car, thought possibly to have been an Astra, was seen outside her house.
A blue Sherpa van was also thought to have been seen some time later parked at the end of her drive with three men in it. The van was noted for having a distinct trident logo on the side and the police appealed for anyone who recognised the distinctive feature to come forward, stating that they wanted to eliminate the men in the van from their enquiries. However, it was also noted that the trident logo shown in their police appeal was only from the memory of the witness that saw it and as such only a representation and that the actual trident logo was something like that and probably not exactly like the one shown.
Just after 5pm, a taxi passed Aeolian House and saw a person running or jogging down the road. The woman that saw him said that she was surprised that he was running so fast and wearing long trousers as it was such a hot day. She said that he ran off towards Middleton-St-George. The police said that they thought that the man was a local jogger and said that he might have information that could help the investigation and appealed for him to come forward. The jogger was said to have been wearing a blue singlet vest and black shorts or trousers.
At about the same time, 5.05pm, a taxi driver said that he saw a car speeding down the drive at Aeolian House, away from the house. The taxi-driver said that he wasn't sure if the car was going to stop and said that it came out behind him, almost hitting him, and then accelerated passed him very quickly.
Ann Heron's husband came home just before 6pm. He noted that Ann Heron was not there to meet him when he got home, which she usually did, and said that he then found the front door wide open.
He said that he then went into the house and found Ann Heron dead in the living room.
When the police investigated her murder, they said that they thought that it was quite probable that Ann Heron had known her murderer, noting that there were no signs of a struggle either inside the house or outside the house. As such, the police said that they needed to know anyone that knew Ann Heron that they hadn't already contacted, to contact them.
The police said that they thought that the blue car, possibly an Astra, that was seen outside Aeolian House at 4.45pm was the same car that was seen driving away at speed by the taxi-driver at about 5.50pm and suggested that whilst a witness had described it as possibly being an Astra car, that it could have easily been a Mazda, Toyota or Cavalier or any other similar car.
They described the driver of the blue car as being either suntanned or dirty.
The police also noted that the A67 was the main route from Darlington to Teesside Airport and said that it would have been a very busy road and would have had a lot of people using it on the Friday afternoon.
At her inquest, it was heard that there was no known motive, but that it could have been sexual as part of her bikini had been moved The police then said that they were moving ahead with their investigation in the opinion that there had been some sexual interference or sexual involvement in the murder.
The police said that they were bedevilled over the motive from the start of the investigation and questioned whether it had been an innocent encounter at first by someone that had called at her house, or a burglary, or possibly an attempted rape.
It was also suggested that Ann Heron's murderer might have been at her funeral. 100 people attended her service, which was held at St Teresa’s Roman Catholic Church in Darlington.
After the inquest, the police said that they were awaiting the outcome of forensic tests in the hope of a breakthrough in the case.
In 1994, a local newspaper received a letter that started, 'Hello editor, it’s me. Ann Heron’s killer'. It is not clear what else the letter said.
Ann Heron's husband was later charged with her murder in 2005, but the charge was later dropped. It was heard that at the time of the murder he had been having an affair with a barmaid from his golf-club. It was noted however that he had a 'credible alibi' as he was at work at the time of the murder. It was however also noted that he fitted two of the main criteria for murder suspects, being her husband, and being the person who found her.
It was reported that in 2010 it was released that another witness had come forward to say that he had seen Ann Heron driving into her property at about 4.15pm on the day of her murder, which was about 45 minutes before the estimated time of her death. She was seen by a lorry driver who said that Ann Heron had been driving towards him and indicating to turn into the drive at Aeolian House. He added that there was a passenger in the front passenger seat who had their hands on the dashboard and that there had been another person in the back seat. It was noted that that information hadn't been made public before.
In 2015 it was reported that a woman claimed to have met a person that told them that they had murdered Ann Heron, but that they would never be caught as he was going to Australia. The woman said that she had been working in a card shop in Newton Aycliffe in late 1992 or early 1993 when a man came in to see the manageress and had bragged to the manageress that he had murdered Ann Heron. She said that she told the police at the time but said that they didn't get back to her on it. However, when questioned, the police said that they did speak to the woman. The woman said, 'The manageress took him to the back to talk about possible orders. They were gone about ten minutes and he came out first. He looked at me and smiled, although it was more a smirk than a smile. The manageress came behind and she was physically shaking. She was frightened. She said, 'you'll never believe what he told me.' He had told her that he had killed Ann Heron, but he was never going to be caught because he was moving to Australia. I don't know why he said it, although the manageress looked a lot like Ann Heron. She wouldn't go to the police saying he was probably just 'playing silly beggars.' It was only years later that I read about the murder and it really shook me because the description was exactly the same as that of a man seen speeding off in a car from the house. Swarthy, dark, early 30s, it was exactly the same. I know it is just hearsay, but I think the police should have at least interviewed me properly'.
The woman noted that the manager who she said had told her what the man had said had since died.
In August 2020 it was reported that an escaped prisoner who died in 2011 was a possible suspect. The man was described as a violent criminal and to have had ties to the area and to have owned a blue car. It was noted that his criminality involved assault with a shotgun, robbery with a carving knife, and burglary. The lead was put forward by an investigator working on behalf of Ann Heron's husband.
see Chronicle Live
see Newcastle Journal - Wednesday 05 October 1994
see Newcastle Evening Chronicle - Thursday 22 November 1990
see Newcastle Journal - Thursday 23 August 1990
see Newcastle Journal - Friday 23 November 1990
see Newcastle Journal - Tuesday 07 August 1990
see Newcastle Journal - Thursday 29 November 1990