Unsolved Murders

Keith Burgess

Age: 39

Sex: male

Date: 17 Dec 1989

Place: Duchess Road, Clifton, Bristol

Keith Burgess was found dead in his basement flat in Duchess Road, Clifton.

He had been beaten to death with a ball-headed hammer and stabbed in the back. The murder weapons were never found.

His body was found soon after when a neighbour went to his basement flat to feed his cat thinking that he was at work.

A man wearing a bobble hat was seen leaving his flat shortly before a neighbour who had gone to feed his cat found him dead in a pool of blood. He had also been seen acting strangely earlier by a man.

There were no signs of a forced entry and his neighbours heard nothing of the attack or any rows.

Keith Burgess was a homosexual and it was thought that he had been murdered by a man that he knew and who he had let into his home.

He was single and had been living in the Clifton area of Bristol for the previous four years, living in Duchess Road at the time of his murder. However, he was originally from Norfolk.

He had close ties with his church, All Saints in Clifton, and was often a server at mass. He was described as an extremely social person with friends and acquaintances throughout the country and was said to have spent a lot of time going to gay clubs and public houses.

It was noted that he was very outgoing and it was thought that if there had been any ill feeling between him and anyone else that he would have told one of his acquaintances and the police appealed for anyone that he might have confided in in that capacity to come forward.

Keith Burgess worked for British Rail as a steward, mostly on Inter City services between London and the Southwest, working out of Bristol Temple Meads, and it was noted that because he travelled so much he had acquaintances in many parts of the country.

Keith Burgess had been on sick leave with the flue for the week up to Sunday 17 December 1989, which was the last Sunday before the Christmas weekend but was due back on duty that afternoon.

Earlier in the day on the Sunday 17 December 1989 he went to mass at All Saints church.

At about 12.15pm Keith Burgess went into the Alma public house which was just round the corner from All Saints church which was something that he was said to have often done after going to church. He stayed there for less than 30 minutes but no one actually remembered seeing him leave the pub.

It was thought that he was walking back home at about 12.40pm and had got home at about 1pm.

Following the discovery of his murder the police developed a description for a suspect who had been seen hanging about earlier in the day. He was a young thin man between 5ft 10in and 6ft tall, with dark hair and wearing a blue and white kitted woollen bobble hat and distinctive dark rimmed glasses. He was also described as having had sunken cheeks and a pointed jaw with a beard or stubble and to have been wearing a dark anorak and off-white training shoes. It was suggested later that the man might have been a vagrant from Swindon, but he was never identified.

The man was seen earlier in the day coming up from Keith Burgess's basement flat carrying two plastic bags, one white and the other green, possibly a Marks and Spencer bag. The man that saw him come out of the front of Keith Burgess's basement flat area said that he was most conspicuous because of his unusual behaviour, saying that he nervously tried to hide his face. The man that saw him said that once they got to the corner of Duchess Road and All saints road that the man in the bobble hat then seemed to stop and wait.

The woman that lived in the ground floor flat above Keith Burgess, who had known him for ten years through the church, said that she was home at lunchtime on Sunday 17 December 1989 with a friend grooming her dog when she heard Keith Burgess get home from church and so went down to see him and give him some presents that she had for him. She used to look after his flat for him whilst he was away and there was a connecting staircase between their flats so she didn't have to go outside to go to see him, which she used that day to take him his presents.

She said that whilst she was there there was a noise at the door and she asked him whether he was expecting anybody but said that he told her that he wasn't as he was just off to work. The woman said that because she had her friend upstairs that she went back up, but said that as she got back up to the staircase to her flat she heard Keith Burgess invite someone in, but said that she didn't see who he had at the door. However, she said that she got the impression that it was someone that Keith Burgess knew.

The woman said that about half-an-hour after that she heard Keith Burgess's front door slam, but when she and her friend looked out of the window they saw the man in the blue and white bobble hat come up the stairs and go off down the street.

Keith Burgess had been due to start work on the 2pm train from Bristol to London and the train was delayed for three minutes as staff waited for him to arrive, but he didn't turn up and so it left without him.

He was found dead in his flat later that afternoon at 4.30pm by his neighbour from upstairs when she went to feed his cat, going through the internal connecting staircase. He was found dead on his living room floor.

After his neighbour called the police, the police arrived to examine the scene and shortly after closed Duchess Road at both ends and questioned everyone leaving and entering.

The police also later examined all the drains in the area in a search for the murder weapons.

It wasn’t thought that theft or robbery was the motive and that the person seen wearing the blue and white bobble hat was probably the murderer.

It was noted that two items were thought to have been missing from his flat after his murder, a filofax and an album of photographs which were both thought to have been there two weeks before his murder. It was noted however, that it was possible that the album of photographs had belonged to someone else.

The police noted that Keith Burgess had received three significant calls in the last week before his murder which the police said they were confident had been made by the same person, one being made in the early hours of the Tuesday before his murder, and two phone calls between 6pm and 9pm on the Wednesday prior to his murder. They said that it was possible that the calls were not related to his murder and said that they were interested in speaking to the person that made them. The police added that there had been some suggestion that the subject of the phone calls was an argument.

The police noted that on Friday 15 December 1989, two days before his murder, that Keith Burgess had been in the Marble Arch area of London where he had lunch with someone and the police said that they wanted to speak to that person.

The police noted that the attack on Keith Burgess had been a savage one and had involved two weapons which was unusual. The police said, 'It was a frenzied attack, very many and quite horrific injuries were caused'. The police also said, 'It may be that the reason for the attack may be known to other persons connected to the offender', and appealed for anyone that did know about the murder through the murderer to come forward, saying, 'Regardless of any feelings of loyalty, the fact that he was prepared to carry out such an attack is reason to forget that loyalty'.

The police also noted that the fact that Keith Burgess was homosexual didn't necessarily mean that that was the reason for his murder, stating, 'It is a fact that the deceased was a homosexual. That is not to say that what has happened to him is a result of him being homosexual. I don’t want to give the impression that this inquiry is centred entirely on the gay community in this city'.

However, it was noted that All Saints in Clifton had been at the centre of a row the previous year after the Bishop of Bristol refused to ordain a deacon there because he was a homosexual.

Over 450 people were interviewed by the police during the investigation and the police had 80 officers working on the case.

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