On 19th March, 2002, Linda Razzell was spotted by an old friend driving through Highworth, near Swindon. Linda was driving a car that the friend didn’t recognise and she recalls thinking, “Linda has a new car, good for her”. The two women made eye contact and the friend recalls thinking that Linda looked cross, which was quite understandable. According to the police, she’d been murdered by her estranged husband Glyn the day before.
Linda, who worked at the college in Swindon town centre, had recently started parking on the residential Alvescott Road to save money. From there, her walk to work took her through an alley and past some garages. It was outside one of these garages that Linda’s phone was found, underneath a plank – placed there, according to early police reports, as opposed to dropped or lost – and this is where police theorised that she died.
On the day she died a resident spotted Linda entering the alley on foot just over a minute before he entered the alley himself in his car. The alley is only wide enough for one car and there is no room to turn a car, and the resident confirmed that no car came past him. Similarly, at the other end of the alley a driving instructor was waiting for his next lesson and he spotted nothing unusual.
Glyn’s phone records show that he took a call of 1m 43s duration at home on the morning he killed Linda. The call was from his current girlfriend and came in at 8:24am. According to their enquiries, it was the police’s assertion that Linda usually parked up at around 8:50am. The distance from Glyn’s house to the alley took around 20 minutes to drive. You could make it in as little as 15, but this was the morning rush hour and it could take a lot longer. Given that he couldn’t have left the house until 8:26am, he’d left himself only 24 minutes to drive across town and get into position to ambush Linda.
According to the police timings, Glyn caught up with Linda, overpowered her, bundled her into his car, planted her mobile phone under a plank, jumped in the driver’s seat, started the engine and cleared the alley in thirty seconds. He did this without being seen by either the resident or driving instructor at opposite ends of the alley, without being seen by any of the residents of the twelve houses which overlook the scene, and without any passerby at either end of the alley seeing him. Similarly, he did it in silence and without leaving any forensic evidence at the scene.
He also managed to do this without knowing her route to work or the times of her commute. Linda’s hours changed from term to term, and she had only worked the new pattern for a short time. Her last direct contact with Glyn was 18 months earlier.
Immediately after her death and abduction Linda was spotted walking quickly out of the alley, and was said to be looking upset. The woman who saw Linda not only gave a good description of the clothes she was wearing, but also confirmed that she had seen her on other occasions. According to police, at this time she was in the back of a Renault Laguna that Glyn was driving that day.
At trial the police claimed that Glyn had driven 60 miles that day that he could not account for to dispose of Linda’s body. The Laguna did not belong to Glyn. He was actually supposed to be in France on the day that Linda was killed, but because she had taken out a court order to freeze his assets – part of their increasingly acrimonious split – he had taken the advice of his solicitor not to go, and instead get back into court as quickly as possible to unfreeze his bank account. Glyn’s company car was a people carrier and well suited to the cross-channel shopping trip he and some friends had planned for that day. They decided to proceed with the trip, and Glyn lent them his car instead of driving himself. He borrowed the Laguna from one of them, also a company car and hence covered by insurance.
Based on the amount of ground covered and the fuel that was in the car when it was picked up and given back by Glyn, an expert was able to account for every one of the 60 mystery miles that the police said was the body disposal run. With a 3 litre V6 engine, the car only did 24 mpg. It was later realised that the police had simply got the figures wrong by failing to calculate how much fuel had been put in the car when it was returned. The police started off by claiming that they never had that information, but later admitted in court that they had. Glyn’s next door neighbour confirmed that the car was on Glyn’s drive went she went shopping at 9:30am and was still there when she came back at 11am.
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It was sixteen hours later at 1am when the police first knocked on Glyn Razzell’s door in connection with Linda’s disappearance.
Without being placed under caution, Glyn spent 17 hours helping the police put together background information at his home. Some of the things that Glyn said were later used in evidence against him at trial, in contravention with the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984, which states that any intelligence gained during an interview when the person being questioned has not been placed under caution is inadmissible in court.
Nine year later, detective Steve Fulcher decided not to place taxi driver Christopher Halliwell under caution when questioning him about the disappearance of Becky Godden. His justification was that he had Halliwell in a position where he was likely to tell him the truth, and he wanted Halliwell to continue talking if there was a chance he would lead police to Godden whilst she was still alive. To remind Halliwell that he was still under caution might cause him to stop talking, and Fulcher prioritised the possibility of finding Godden alive above everything else.
In the end Halliwell did take Fulcher to her body, but because he had contravened PACE 1984, Halliwell’s admission was inadmissible in court. It took five more years for police to put together a strong enough case to convict Halliwell without his admission. Fulcher was disciplined and resigned from the force. After the trial, many media outlets reported that Christopher Halliwell had been the builder that Linda Razzell had been having an affair with that caused the initial split, and that possibly he was responsible for her murder. PACE 1984 had protected Christopher Halliwell, but was set aside for Glyn Razzell.
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At the time he was supposedly killing Linda, Glyn claimed to be walking in the park. Two officers walked with Glyn as he retraced his steps for them. As they passed Westlea Police Station, Glyn pointed out the CCTV camera on the police station and suggested they check the footage as that would prove his story. He also pointed out two other cameras that covered his route.
Although the police CCTV camera was connected to a recording system, they claimed that it wasn’t recording that day. One of the other CCTV cameras on the route was also not recording. The third was; but police moved too slowly to seize the tapes, and they had been recorded over by the time they got round to doing it. Potential witnesses on a school trip in the park were identified quickly, but not asked about that day in March until July. Another potential witness was not contacted for over a year. He thought he could recall a man dressed like Glyn, but not surprisingly couldn’t be sure of the date.
Whilst they dithered over CCTV tape that could have cleared Glyn, the police where much quicker to seize tapes that could have incriminated Glyn. In total 25 tapes covering all possible routes were taken and examined, but the Laguna did not appear on any of them.
Glyn only had the Laguna from the afternoon of March 18th to the evening of March 20th. In the first instance, Police used four different techniques to examine the car for blood, taking forty minutes to do so. They found no evidence of either blood or recent cleaning. That was on the 20th. On the 21st, police took the car away for a full scene of crime forensic examination, including taking swabs and tapings. Two officers spent five hours going over the car but no incriminating skin, blood or hair was found. When it was eventually returned to the owners it was covered in fingerprint dust, so the owner gave it a thorough cleaning, inside and out, including the cabin and the boot.
On the 28th the police, determined to find something, decided to try their luck again. Using Luminol, the police were able to identify several blood smears that they had apparently missed during the previous two examinations. Blood was found on the underside of the parcel shelf, on the sides of the boot, on the top of the rear seats, and on the passenger footwell mat.
Forensic scientists said that these were heavy blood stains, visible to the naked eye, which calls into question why they were not seen during the two police examinations or whilst the car was being cleaned by the owner – and how they survived that cleaning. It also calls into question why they needed to use Luminol, beloved of every police procedural as being able to reveal previously invisible evidence of blood.
5-Amino-2,3-dihydropthalazine-1,4-dione, to give Luminol its scientific name, emits a blue glow when mixed with a suitable oxidizing agent. That renders it very useful to crime scene investigators. It’s a common mistake of TV audiences to assume that it’s reacting to the presence of blood itself; actually, it’s reacting to the iron found in haemoglobins.
The problem with Luminol is that suitable oxidising agents are not hard to come across. For example, bleaches and other cleaning agents that contain copper or copper-based compounds will give a false positive, because the Luminol reacts to the copper. Blood found in sources such as urine or faeces still give the blue glow, although they don’t indicate foul play has taken place. Excessive cigarette smoke in an enclosed space can give a false positive. Even the enzyme peroxidase causes the chemiluminescence, meaning that horseradish sauce could even give a false positive.
There was no blood elsewhere in the car – not on the seat or on the controls. In fact there were no fingerprints, hair or skin of Linda’s in the car, although there was DNA belonging to seven other individuals who have never been located. Everyone who had been in the car was tested and ruled out. Similarly, here was no blood (or skin, or hair) on Glyn’s clothes. There was no blood in Glyn’s sinks, bath or washing machine. On the evening of the 19th Glyn’s girlfriend sat in the passenger seat of the Laguna. Her shoes and bag (which were in the footwell) were tested for evidence of blood, but none was found.
The footwell mats are curiously central to the prosecution’s case. If Glyn threw an object – the Crown maintained that it was either gloves (which they have never located) or a weapon (ditto) – one might reasonably expect it to fall roughly central. But the blood stain was found on the far right upper corner of the mat, closest to the dashboard’s central column. The defence contends that ergonomic tests prove that whatever caused the bloodstain must also have touched the side or otherwise they couldn’t have landed where they did, but there are no corresponding marks.
The police said that the footwell mats had been removed after their second inspection on the 21st, but the owner maintains that they were still in the car when it was returned to him on the 24th.
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Another adage of police procedurals is “follow the money”. When there is a crime, where does the money go? Who loses, and more importantly who benefits?
Whoever it might have been, it certainly wasn’t Glyn. Although the Crown claimed that Glyn would benefit from Linda’s death, it simply wasn’t true. In 2000 Linda changed her will to make sure the children were left everything in the event of her death. Linda’s 1992 life insurance listed the children as sole beneficiaries. Linda was even changing the terms on the house they previously shared so that if anything happened to her, the children would inherit her share of the house. There is documentary evidence to prove that Glyn was aware of all of those conditions.
The money that police didn’t follow was in the three bank and building society accounts that Linda withdrew on the day before she disappeared. CCTV shows Linda and her current boyfriend withdrawing the cash together. She also visited Glyn’s bank and, on the pretext of wanting to pay money into his account, managed to obtain details of Glyn’s bank account.
An analysis of Linda’s computer created only further questions. A photo of Glyn’s rented home was downloaded onto it two days before her disappearance, although Linda had never lived there (curiously, the week before her disappearance, Linda’s boyfriend approached Glyn’s neighbours trying to solicit information about him) and she’d recently looked at websites that offered cheap flights.
In her notebook was the address of the Official Ambassador of Burundi. Linda was friends with a man who had worked on aid projects in Burundi, which is a French-speaking country, and she had been helping him with his French. An avid francophile, Linda was a fluent French speaker who had spent a year living in Paris and still enjoyed holidaying there.
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The curious behaviour continued right up until her disappearance. On the morning of the 19th, the children said Linda seemed much calmer than normal. Usually she would be stressed during the household morning routine, and that day should have been worse than normal because one of the children had lost their homework and they were running late. The children also said that she said ‘goodbye’ to them, rather than ‘see you at five’ like she normally did. Linda needed her staff ID badge to gain access to the building. Staff had to wear them at all times, but on the 19th she didn’t take it. She also didn’t take her emergency phone, the one that only the children had the number for.
Recently, the children had noticed that their mum was upset quite a lot of the time. She would go off on her own. She didn’t want them to hug her. Her mental health issues were well documented and dated back to the 1970s. Although Linda had a prescription for antidepressants, at the time she disappeared she wasn’t taking them (in fact, she’d disappeared before, but had taken the children each time). Staff at work had reported Linda as being confrontational, and she’d already been moved from one class because she was clashing with both the tutor and students.
Linda was having financial troubles, exacerbated by the fact that Glyn’s maintenance payments had stopped due to his recent redundancy. She was behind on her mortgage payments because of it. The divorce was bitter and difficult. She’d previously made allegations that he was violent towards her, but when the court heard all the facts Glyn was acquitted. She was resentful of his new relationship and that only increased the bitterness of her feelings towards him. She had a new boyfriend herself – her best friend’s husband – but she had told friends that she did not see it as a long term relationship.
On the day before her disappearance, when she was withdrawing money from multiple accounts, another item on her to-do list for that day read “collect travel tickets”. Police declined to follow up with major airlines to see whether Linda had left the country and the question of the travel tickets was never brought up at trial. It could be nothing; but on Linda’s calendar at home, she’d written a question mark on 19th March, 2002.
Justice for Glyn Razzell
Linda was seen driving a silver Ford Fiesta through Highworth the day after she disappeared. Six other eyewitnesses reported seeing Linda in Weston-super-Mare and Pendine Sands in South Wales. These eyewitnesses were so sure that they’d seen Linda, they approached police. They were deemed credible and the Crown was not able to discredit them. The police searched over 200 locations, but no body has ever been found.
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