Date: 11 Nov 1989
Carmel Gamble was murdered at her cottage in Stroud on Saturday evening 11 November 1989, the day before Remembrance Sunday. She was found early the following morning shortly after 8.20am.
She was beaten about the head with a heavy, rounded, blunt instrument and her body was then disfigured with a sharp instrument such as a knife. It was said that there was a lot of anger involved in her murder. After her murder, her cottage was set on fire and it was the fire brigade that discovered her body. Neither the blunt instrument nor the sharp instrument were ever found.
Although it was noted that her murder was violent and involved a lot of anger, the police said that they had found no motive.
It was noted that her woollen coat was missing after her murder. It was thought possible that her murderer had taken her woollen coat so as to avoid being seen in blood stained clothing.
Carmel Gamble was born and brought up in Stroud, Gloucestershire and her maiden name was Carmel O'Donnel.
She later married and in 1985 she and her husband bought a holiday cottage in Rodborough just outside of Stroud, but they spent most of their time in a flat that they rented in Church Road, Wimbledon, London. They had no children.
At the time of her murder, her husband, who was a composer, had been in London.
Carmel Gamble suffered from Anorexia Nervosa and at the time of her death she weighed just under five stone and it was said that as a result she didn't go out much. She had been receiving treatment for it at St. George's Hospital in London. She was said to have been a chronic anorexic and had been ill for about 15 years. The doctor noted that because she had chronic anorexia, she was in a state of chronic/semi-starvation and so she was alert, over-active and restless, and would sleep poorly and was often quite irritable and would have difficulty relaxing.
The doctor noted that she was a person that had always wanted to get close to people but could never manage it.
The doctor noted that Carmel Gamble like to shop in the evenings, partly because it was the time of the day that was beginning to close in and a time that she might have been feeling lonely, being anxious about the evening coming and also because it was getting dark and she didn't feel so self-conscious about her appearance.
The doctor said that Carmel Gamble lived a life of extreme routine with everything orderly and everything in its place which was said to have been very important to her as it gave her a sense of control. The doctor said that Carmel Gamble would only eat very safe foods that were not fattening such as carrots and vegetables even though she was hungry a lot of the time. However, she was also noted for having a lot of fruit gums and to indulge herself in some after her meal, although she would not eat the whole packet and would only eat a set of fruit gums that were the same colour meaning that she would have three or so at a time.
She was described as an intelligent woman and very much a loner and spent many hours in her local library reading.
She spent much of her time in Wimbledon going to local shops and boutiques and shortly before she was murdered had gone into a boutique to buy a top and given the shopkeeper there a £5 deposit saying that she was going away for a couple of weeks.
She left Wimbledon in October 1989 to go back to the holiday cottage in Rodborough to spend a couple of weeks alone whilst her husband stayed in London to work. However, they had arranged particular times to speak on the telephone which was done via a public phone box that was outside the cottage.
On Thursday 9 November 1989 Carmel Gamble was seen going into a Rumbalows shop in Stroud town centre with an unknown man at about 5.30pm. The man was described as a slim middle-aged man and a photofit of him was later released. However, the shop assistant who saw Carmel Gamble with the man said that as she started to move towards them, the man walked out.
The man was described as a white male, about 45-years-old, 5ft 4in tall, with a slim build, with dark brown scruffy shoulder-length hair, staring eyes and wearing a light grey herring bone type jacket and dark grey pullover.
It was noted that in 1996 a woman came forward with more evidence about seeing Carmel Gamble with the man, stating that she had not been able to sleep because of what she knew and the police said that they were convinced that someone knew who the man was.
On Saturday 11 November 1989 Carmel Gamble went to Sew and So, a haberdashery in Stroud, arriving around closing time, 4.30pm and bought six buttons. She was seen in Boots in the High Street about half an hour later, 5.30pm, where she bought some other items. The manageress there said that she remembered Carmel Gamble as she had to wait for her before she could cash up.
The manageress at Boots that served Carmel Gamble was the last person known to have seen Carmel Gamble alive.
The police said that they didn't know exactly how Carmel Gamble got home that evening, stating that she might have taken a taxi, or could have walked home, a distance of a mile, which was thought would have been more typical of her.
The following morning, at about 8am, a local resident saw an unknown person in the phone box outside Carmel Gamble's cottage and at about 8.20am, smoke was seen coming out of her cottage and the fire brigade was called. Although it was thought possible that the person in the public phone box opposite Carmel Gamble's cottage might have had nothing to do with her murder, the police said that they were interested in tracing that person as the phone box was so close to Carmel Gamble's cottage and the fire was spotted so soon after. The person was described as wearing a long woollen type hat.
It was noted that the fire brigade had been called out to the fire by a mystery male caller who had dialled 999 from the call box opposite her cottage.
At the time of her murder, the police said that they were trying to trace a man who had a soft Irish accent.
They also said that they were interested in information regarding a rusty yellow Triumph Dolomite car that was found abandoned the day before the murder, 10 November 1989.
At a later appeal, the police said that they were interested in identifying a man that was seen sitting on a bench a few yards from Carmel Gamble's cottage with a white plastic bag. He was said to have been sitting with his head in his hands at about 2.30am on the morning of 12 November 1989. The police said that it appeared that the white plastic bag appeared to have had something in it and said that the question was whether or not it had an a container with an accelerant such as paraffin in it, noting that it was thought that Carmel Gamble's cottage had been set fire with just such an accelerant.
It was reported in 2017 that suspicion later fell on two men who were then serving life sentences for murder/manslaughter, but no developments were made in the case. One of the men had killed both of his parents with an axe in Tetbury, Gloucestershire in 1991 and had been sent to Broadmoor.