Unsolved Murders

Susan Thomas

Age: 9

Sex: female

Date: 2 Jan 1963

Place: Platt Fields Park, Manchester

Susan Thomas was sexually assaulted and strangled in Platt Fields Park.

She was found at about midnight on 2 January 1963 only a few hours after she was reported missing.

She had lived in Brailsford Road, Fallowfield in Manchester, about a mile from Platt Fields Park.

She had been about four feet, five inches tall.

Susan Thomas had gone to Platt Fields at about 4pm to watch the skating near Pets' Corner on Wednesday 2 January 1963.

It was thought that a girl that she had been with in the park might have vital information that could help the police. A police detective chief superintendent said:

She was playing with another girl of about her own age. A seven-year-old boy has told us that he thinks Susan's playmate was called Lesley and about Susan's age.

The police said that they were concentrating their inquiries on finding other children that might have been in the park with her on the day and set up a mobile police van at the park on 4 January for children to go to help detectives with their enquiries. They said:

On Wednesday the few people in the park were mostly kiddies. What they saw may lead us to the killer.

Two children said that a man had chased them out of the park a few hours before Susan Thomas's body was found.

They said he had been about 22 years old, about six foot tall, with brown hair,  and had worn a light 'shortie' raincoat or navy blue duffle coat.

One of the girls, a 13-year-old who had lived in Westray Road in Longsight, said:

We were sliding on the frozen lake in the park with seven pals when a man walked up and stood watching us.

She said that she and her friends then ran away when the park keeper's van came along and the man ran after them.

The other girl, a 12-year-old that had lived a few doors away from her friend, said:

We dodged round the back of the park, jumped over the fence and ran down the road. The man stayed in the park.

Following the murder the police carried out a house-to-house questionnaire. The police appealed for anyone with information about anyone missing from home or who had not been to work.

The police said that they thought that Susan Thomas had been strangled between dusk and 6pm, the time she should have been home, and that the motive of the crime appeared to have been a sexual attack.

She was found a few hours later, around midnight, in some bushes, partly buried, near the edge of the park on the Hart Road side of Platt Fields Park, by neighbours that had been called in to search for her after she failed to return home. She was found in bushes about 15 yards from the back door of the nearest house and about a yard from a fence between the houses and the park.

She was last seen alone in Ladybarn Road on her way from her home to the park.

Susan Thomas had been the youngest of four children. her father had been a storekeeper at Trafford Park works.

It was noted that 12-year-old Helen Sternshine was murdered shortly after on 29 January 1963, however, a man was convicted of her murder.

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

see www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk

see Coventry Evening Telegraph - Wednesday 30 January 1963

see Express and Echo - Thursday 03 January 1963 (photo)

see Daily Mirror - Friday 04 January 1963

see Belfast News-Letter - Thursday 10 January 1963

see Birmingham Daily Post - Thursday 03 January 1963

see Liverpool Echo - Thursday 03 January 1963 (picture of Susan Thomas)

see Coventry Evening Telegraph - Saturday 05 January 1963

see Coventry Evening Telegraph - Wednesday 30 January 1963

see Coventry Evening Telegraph - Thursday 03 January 1963

see Daily Herald - Friday 04 January 1963 (picture of Susan Thomas)

see Belfast News-Letter - Saturday 05 January 1963

see Belfast Telegraph - Thursday 03 January 1963