Detectives investigating the 50-year-old murder of a Wakefield schoolgirl have uncovered new lines of enquiry as part of a major reinvestigation of the case
Officers investigating the 1965 murder of 14-year-old Elsie Frost are appealing for information to identify a previously unknown man in a white coat on a bicycle who was seen near the murder scene on the afternoon she died.
West Yorkshire Police’s Homicide and Major Enquiry Team are making the appeal as part of a first ever full re-investigation of the murder.
Elsie was attacked on a towpath near the Calder and Hebble Canal in Wakefield on the afternoon of October 9 1965 after watching friends sail on what is now Horbury Lagoon.
While entering a railway tunnel just off the canal towpath, which now leads onto Monckton Road, Elsie was attacked from behind and stabbed in the back and twice in the head.
A knife blow also pierced a hand which officers believe she had put up behind her head to defend herself.
Officers now believe Elsie may also have been meeting someone in secret, possibly a boyfriend, in the weeks leading up to her death and are appealing for anyone who can identify that person to contact them.
The force has also issued new picture of the popular teenager and a map showing her final movements as part of new efforts to seek justice for her and her family.
Det Chf Insp Elizabeth Belton, who is leading the reinvestigation. said: “Elsie’s death may be many decades ago but the pain of her loss remains as fresh as ever for her brother Colin and sister Anne.
“Her brutal murder shattered their family and with such a significant anniversary near, I would ask anyone who may not have come forwards then, for whatever reason, to do so now and provide them with answers.”
Eold case detectives from West Yorkshire have reviewed the case in the past to see if there was any fresh evidence, but have never mounted a full scale re-investigation until now.
The new investigation has, in part, been made possible by the recruitment of new civillian investigators into the Major Investigation Review Team which reviews historic cases.
The team is making use of the extra capacity provided by the investigators, many of whom are retired detectives, to fully re-examine documents from the time for possible new leads and interview interested parties.
Det Chf Insp Belton said: “The re-investigation has been progressing well and we have uncovered new lines of enquiry. We now believe at least one person, who was never interviewed at the time, was seen near the location where Elise was murdered on the canal towpath on that evening on October 9.
“He was described as white, 25 to 30 years old riding a black bike with a basket on the front and wearing a white lab type coat possibly of the style then worn by someone who could have been a delivery boy, butcher or abattoir worker. Clearly we are keen to identify that individual.
“Enquiries also suggest that when staying at a friends a couple of weeks before the murder, Elsie got dressed up and went out, possibly to meet someone. Was that person you or does anyone who know it was? If you have any information please contact us.”
She added: “The force has recently increased resources for the investigation of historic cases and we are determined to do what we can to try and find justice for families, such as Elsie’s, who want to see guilty parties identified and brought to justice.
“Elsie’s murder may be nearly 50 years old but it is a crime people in Wakefield have never stopped talking about. I would ask anyone who can assist us to contact the Major Investigation Review Team on 101 or to contact the independent Crimestoppers charity, anonymously, on 0800 555 111.”
Elsie lived on Manor Haigh Road in Lupset, Wakefield, and was a pupil at Wakefield City Girls High School.
Police said she was part of a loving family and had a younger brother Colin and an older sister, Anne.
Speaking about Elsie, Anne Cleave, her sister, said: “When Elsie and I played schools, she liked to be the teacher; when we played hospitals, she was the nurse and I was the patient - even though I was four years older than she was.
“She was often very funny because if she couldn’t make me better with our standard treatment - using a pencil as a magic wand - she would resort to just ‘kissing me better’.
“I think it was her caring nature and that came out in the way she looked after our little brother, Colin while mum was at work after I left home to get married.
“We were both keen readers and mum would stand at the bottom of the stairs calling us but we were so involved in our books we often didn’t hear her until she came upstairs and into the bedroom.
“We went through the church hymn book marking up our favourite hymns and at one point we couldn’t agree so we ended up using a pencil to mark Elsie’s favourites and a biro to mark mine. I still have that hymn book.”