In Detail: Suzy Lamplugh #1
Suzy Lamplugh has not been seen since she left her office in Fulham at lunchtime on 28th July 1986. It seems highly unlikely now that she went to meet a buyer at 37 Shorrolds Road.
You might already know that I value maps and timelines as investigative tools. My Suzy timeline has been available for a while now, but I am currently working on a new version with added information after finding some new sources. This will be the first in a series of articles about Suzy Lamplugh.
This is the first time I have started to map her day-to-day places, including her home, the pub where her personal items including a chequebook were found, and her office in Fulham. All three locations are just 1.5 miles or so apart, with the pub around the corner from her flat, shown below.
The map below shows how close Suzy lived to her place of work, Sturgis estate agency at 654 Fulham Road. It would have been a thrilling lifestyle: selling property in an affluent part of London during the boom years of the yuppie 1980s, zipping over Putney Bridge each morning for the short drive to work in the company car. Suzy had lots of friends and a brilliant career ahead of her.
After Suzy left the estate agency at lunchtime on 28th July 1986, she most likely did not attempt to drive to 37 Shorrolds Road. This entry in her work diary is now believed to have been a smoke screen to give her a guarantee of being able to leave the office at the time she wanted to go.
Wherever she went next is a matter of intense investigation because the only 100% known fact subsequent to Suzy leaving her office is that her white Ford Fiesta B396GAN was found outside a garage on Stevenage Road shortly after 10pm. This location is opposite 123 Stevenage Road, a house owned by Wendy and Barry Jones, who were also Sturgis customers and who had a Sturgis sale board outside. Because this car was not Suzy’s personal property, it was likely returned to Sturgis and continued in use as a company car. I have found an online listing suggesting that it was taxed (and therefore in use) until 1st August 1990, when it would have been six years old.
So perhaps Suzy went straight from the office to either her flat in Disraeli Road, or the Prince of Wales pub to retrieve her chequebook and diary? David Videcette interviewed the couple who were managing the pub when Suzy disappeared. Clive Vole and Karen Furness were ‘relief cover’, and were only managing the pub for a week while the actual landlords went on a family trip to see a newborn baby. Clive claims that Suzy spoke to him on the phone on the day she disappeared, but was hazy about the timings and unclear what the arrangement was. Certainly, Suzy did not collect her chequebook and diary because they were later given to police. But had she arrived at the pub to collect them, only to suffer an accident? If so, what happened next, and who moved her car? And how did they know which car was hers and where it was parked?
A possible alternative scenario is that Suzy went back home at lunchtime instead of to the pub. Diana Lamplugh is recorded as saying she thought Suzy had tennis plans after work on Monday, but Suzy also had a 6pm viewing with Joanna Wright in 43 Waldemar Avenue. She must have forgotten her tennis clothes and racquet on the Monday morning (which would be out of keeping with my impression of an organised young professional, but everyone makes mistakes) and decided to dash home for them at lunchtime. But then if tennis really was her plan, why has nobody found the person or people she was planning to play with?
You can see all the locations mentioned in this article in my list on Google Maps here.
A Troubled History
Not only was the original police investigation bungled, but some of the re-investigations carried out years later were compromised too. Added to that official confusion, various writers have produced odd and inaccurate newspaper articles and books in the decades since. It seems that Suzy Lamplugh’s killer was extraordinarily lucky for two reasons: (1) Suzy herself has never been found, limiting the chance of a thorough forensic investigation and murder charge and (2) the various miscommunications mean that key evidence was misinterpreted and false assumptions made. There is one exception I have found: I can strongly recommend the work of David Videcette for its thoroughness. David is a former detective who has made it his private passion to find Suzy and bring her killer to justice. Although I do not quite feel able to endorse all of his conclusions yet, his recent work, Finding Suzy is by far the best written and is the biggest contribution to this case in decades, possibly even since 28th July 1986. I promise an in-depth review soon!
One semi-official account of Suzy’s last day can be found at the Suzy Lamplugh Trust website.
A negative review on Amazon, interested to see what you think of its points.....
'After reading the book I wrote a glowing 5-star review on Amazon, convinced the police had slipped up badly, jumped to conclusions then set off after a phantom called ‘Mr Kipper’. Sparking my interest in the case, I watched and re-watched the Oct ’86 Crimewatch reconstruction on Youtube. Which is when it became apparent there were crucial differences with the book. So who was right?
Comparing (A) a Crimewatch/police reconstruction 2-3 months after the event, using the actual witnesses, and (B) an investigation over 30 years later relying on people’s recollections for fresh insights, I have to say the former must be definitive. Here are some points which, I’m afraid, derail the author’s conclusions:
Key to No. 37 Shorrold Rd.
The cornerstone of the author’s case is that the key never left Suzy’s office, proving she didn’t go to the viewing, because there never was a Mr Kipper. And that the police used it next day during the search for her, to get into the property. But this has a fatal flaw - in the Crimewatch program the key was still missing - the policeman heading the investigation confirmed it had never been recovered. On that basis it seems pretty clear Suzy did take the key - but somehow the author ignores this. The staff went to viewings armed with a very large yellow key fob and a copy of the sale sheet, but the author’s theory requires Suzy, having carefully invented a viewing to provide cover, to then leave the office very conspicuously empty-handed - a dead giveaway in itself - and also to drive off in completely the opposite direction, nowhere near No.37. Which would be pretty boneheaded, and unthinkable for someone as bright as Suzy.
Next-door neighbour identifying Suzy
The author seems to establish, from a relative of the now-deceased neighbour at No.35, that Suzy was never positively identified by him - which he takes as further evidence she did not go to No.37. But Crimewatch shows what actually happened - at 1pm, hearing the front door of No.37 being closed, the neighbour looks up from his newspaper to see a man and a woman walk out onto the pavement. Which confirms that No.37 was visited, making it irrelevant whether the neighbour identified Suzy or not. It’s a reasonable assumption it was her - who else could it have been - a point the author does not address.
Other Shorrold Road sightings
Crimewatch show two more sightings: Suzy waiting alone on the doorstep at 12.50. Then about 1pm, Suzy outside on the pavement and a man standing in the road with a bottle of champagne. These three sightings at No.37 show Suzy did go there - but was not abducted there.
Most reliable sighting
Crimewatch introduce a friend of Suzy’s who saw her at 2.45pm, driving north through Fulham, talking to a man in the passenger seat. This friend knew Suzy very well and was 100% certain it was her. Despite spending huge amounts of time tracking down more doubtful witnesses, the author completely ignores this sighting, and does not mention it in his book.
The Prince of Wales pub
The author believes Suzy went straight from her office to the pub - anxious to retrieve her secret pocket diary, mislaid there the previous evening - and met her end there. Which is directly contradicted by the three sightings at No.37, and her friend seeing her at 2.45pm. Also, the pub had been open since midday - how would she come to grief with customers around? The person who told the author that Suzy rang him about collecting her diary also told him she never turned up. A point the author does not pursue.
All the evidence shows Suzy did go to Shorrold Road - a brief ‘viewing’ only for show - to ensure her story about meeting a customer there stayed watertight back at the office.
On Crimewatch the police stated the two knew each other, and all the evidence points to exactly that. Subsequently there were sightings of a man and woman arguing in that area and later arguing/fighting a mile away in and around Stevenage Road, where her car was later found.
Prior to publication of The Suzy Lamplugh Story in 1988, written with access to the police investigation and Suzy’s larger, more detailed, diaries there was fevered tabloid speculation about her ‘lifestyle’ - Faber & Faber rejected an offer of £250K from the News of the World for the serialisation rights. Having seen a draft, Diana Lamplugh took legal action to prevent it being published. When this failed, the author refusing to budge, she dissociated herself from it. But the disclosures in the book were only the tip of the iceberg. Amidst the controversy, the managing director of Faber & Faber maintained the author had actually been very responsible: - “He has left out some incredibly difficult stuff - material that would have been better suited to, let’s say, the News of the World than Faber & Faber.”
With no shortage of admirers, Suzy juggled suitors constantly and indulged herself to the full. But kept them in the dark about the stiff competition they faced in her hectic love life - frequent dumping being the order of the day to free up space for fresh contenders.
Consequently, in just that final weekend period there were a lot of men. First, she saw her boyfriend Adam on Fri night. Possibly somebody else at a Sat night party, from which Adam had been excluded. She saw him briefly Sun afternoon but then side-lined him again and that evening went to another man’s flat, from which she rang him for a brief chat. On Monday, next up was ‘Mr Kipper’ - so urgent she broke all the rules and invented the viewing at No.37. They then spent some hours talking, then arguing, and eventually fighting. But in him she overstepped the mark with the wrong man - and it finally caught up with her.'
Just a small point, but it strikes me that Suzy’s car was left without handbrake on, this indicates driver usually drives an automatic ... would you concur ?