THE SISTER of a Yorkshire schoolgirl has said she hopes justice will finally be done following the arrest of a pensioner more than half-a-century after a murder inquiry was launched into the teenager’s death.
The dramatic development came yesterday as detectives made a major breakthrough in one of Britain’s longest-running unsolved murder investigations which was launched after the death of 14-year-old Elsie Frost in October 1965.
The teenager was attacked from behind and stabbed in the back and head as she walked through a railway tunnel just off a canal towpath in Wakefield, but her killer has never been traced.
However, West Yorkshire Police officers renewed efforts to find her killer last year with a fresh appeal five decades on from her death, before receiving key intelligence which led to yesterday’s arrest.
The 78-year-old suspect, named in reports as Peter Pickering, was arrested in Berkshire and was last night being held at a police station in the Thames Valley where he was due to be questioned by West Yorkshire Police officers.
Elsie’s sister, Anne Cleave, 69, said: “We were aware that there had been mistakes in the early days, but the police have worked really hard on our behalf to get this far in the past year.
“You are never quite aware what you will feel like when these announcements are made. We have both felt queasy and a bit stressed when we found out about the arrest.
“It is a step in the right direction now and the bigger step will come if he is charged. We don’t know how things are going to develop. The police have been amazing, they have kept us in the loop.
“When you have got something you are looking for, and that’s justice, then you have to keep pushing for it. We want justice for Elsie.”
A major inquiry was launched after Elsie’s body was found at the bottom of a flight of steps by a dog walker, and hundreds of people were interviewed, but her killer has evaded justice ever since.
Detective Superintendent Nick Wallen said: “Elsie’s brother and sister have been kept fully apprised of the progress of the inquiry and I wish to commend them for their perseverance and that of members of the media in continuing to campaign for her and to put this case back in the public domain.
“The response we have received from the public since launching the reinvestigation is a testament to their dedication and to the strength of feeling Elsie’s murder continues to generate in the local community in Wakefield.”
The renewed police inquiry was triggered by a BBC Radio 4 investigation into the case. In the wake of the fresh appeal, Elsie’s brother, Colin Frost, spoke out about her family’s pain, and said their parents, Edith and Arthur, had died “with a huge amount of guilt”.
In 1966, Ian Bernard Spencer, then aged 33, was charged with the murder but was subsequently cleared on the orders of the judge who heard the case at trial.