Unsolved Murders

Rosella Middleton

Age: 83

Sex: female

Date: 20 Apr 1994

Place: Birchfield Tower, Perry Barr, Handsworth, Birmingham

Source: youtu.be

Rossela Middleton was sexually assaulted and beaten to death in her flat after she got off a bus on the night of Wednesday 20 April 1994.

She was last seen getting off the bus in Birchfield Way near the flats at about 10.45pm.

Her body was discovered by her son, the following day, Thursday 21 April 1994, after she failed to answer one of his daily telephone calls.

He found her lying dead on her lounge floor wearing a beige anorak, brown and white scarf and a long brown dress.

She had lived on the tenth floor of Birchfield Tower.

It was suggested that her murderer might have been covered with blood after he left her flat.

Her post mortem revealed that she had choked on her own blood after receiving serious injuries to her mouth and face. It was thought that she had been punched repeatedly in the face after she had just got in.

Police interviewed a number of people on the 33, 46, 51 and 52 bus routes that passed Birchfield Tower.

CCTV footage was examined in an effort to trace her murderer but without result. Local housing officers said that the security at the block where Rossela Middleton was found was the tightest available, being fitted with top of the range security surveillance cameras and a 24-hour concierge which was fitted three years earlier at a cost of £50,000. It was also fitted with a key monitoring machine that recorded the comings and goings of all the tenants walking in and out of the building, logging the times. It was also noted that cameras were also in operation in the lifts, lobbies and both front and rear entrances. It was noted that the tower block was just one of 300 bocks out of 3,300 across the country that were fitted with such equipment.

Despite the security system, the cameras offered no clues to her murder.

There was no sign of a forced entry at her flat.

She was described as a kindly churchgoer and was born and bred in Birmingham and her husband had died in 1974.

Rossela Middleton was said to have spent a lot of her time travelling about on the bus network.

A woman that knew Rossela Middleton said that on the night of Monday 18 April 1994 at about 10pm she had been going home from the bingo along the High Street when she saw Rossela Middleton waiting for a bus outside the shop Butons in the doorway waiting for a bus with a man. She said that she stopped to speak to her and that Rossela Middleton and the man seemed to be very good friends. She said that she then saw them get on the bus together. She said that she saw Rossela Middleton and the man again the following day at the same location, Tuesday 19 April 1994 and that on that occasion the man paid for Rossela Middleton's bus fare.

On the afternoon of Wednesday 20 April 1994 Rossela Middleton's son droped into to see Rossela Middleton at her flat for tea and to have a chat, but that that was the last time he saw her until he discovered her body the following day after she didn't answer her phone.

At about 8.40pm on Wednesday 20 April 1994 Rossela Middleton went out and got on a bus. She was picked up several times across Birmingham on the cities security camera network and seen at various times:

  • 8.40pm: Rossela Middleton goes out.
  • 9.15pm (approximately): New Street Station whre she went into the John Menzies shop and bought some chocolate.
  • 10.15pm (approximately): High Street. The woman that had seen her the two previous days saw her again and said that Rossela Middleton told her that she had missed her bus. The woman said that Rossela Middleton was alone and mentioned to her that 'Thomas' should have been there, but he wasn't, and said that she understood that she was referring to the man that she had seen her with on the previous two nights.
  • 10.30pm: Rossela Middleton got on the 33 bus for Pheasey via Aston and Six Ways.
  • 10.45pm : Rossela Middleton got off the 33 bus in Birchfield Way for her home. A woman that saw her get off the bus said that she had often seen Birchfield Way meet a man in his 50's when she got off the bus but said that on that night here was no one there. It was noted that her flat was just a few steps away from where she got off the bus.

The police said that they didn't know what the motive was but said that it could have been a theft and burglary, or it could have been a sexual attack.

The police added that they didn't know whether she had let someone into her flat or whether someone had followed her in or had already been in the block when she entered.

The police said that nothing was missing in her flat but said that someone did leave a scarf behind. It had a red, brown and beige pattern.

The police later said that they were keen to identify the man that had been seen with Rossela Middleton on the two previous occasions who Rossela Middleton it was thought had referred to as Thomas. They released a photofit impression of his face and gave his description as middle aged, 56-60 years of age, gingerish hair, below average height, with a broad build, prominent and thick nose, a ruddy complexion and with a bit of a beer belly and on both occasions that he was seen with Rossela Middleton he had been wearing a navy blue gaberdine mackintosh. The police noted that they were sure that the various sightings of the man were of the same man and that they thought he was local to Birmingham, possibly Perry Bar or Birchfield in particular.

After a Crime Watch television appeal was aired in June 1994, two people called in suggesting the identity of Thomas, but nothing more is known of that.

The police said that they thought that her murderer was a local man, possibly from the Perry Bar or Birchfield area.

It was noted that she had recently been mugged four times. It was said that her legs were bandaged because of eczema and that when she was attacked they had been kicked from under her.

She was known to all her friends as Rossie Middleton. She was a grandmother and a former Sunday School teacher.

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

see Sandwell Evening Mail - Monday 02 May 1994

see Sandwell Evening Mail - Saturday 23 April 1994

see Sandwell Evening Mail - Saturday 23 April 1994