Mystery killing of young mum
Apr 11 2008 by Ben Rossington, Liverpool Echo
WAS it a cult killing? Was it a bogus doctor? What about a young man in a leather jacket?
No-one knows for sure who murdered young mum-of-two Maureen Dutton.
She was a woman with two children, a normal family, loving husband and nice home in a quiet part of Liverpool.
Yet Maureen Dutton was brutally stabbed to death in her own front room.
Her toddler son David and baby boy Andrew were the only witnesses to the horrific crime
There were no particularly incriminating clues surrounding the Knotty Ash murder, which gave police little to go on.
It also explains the multitude of theories.
On one foggy December day in 1961, 27-year-old Mrs Dutton was at the family?s Thingwall Lane home with her two children.
She had hoped to take two-year-old David to see the Christmas crib at Childwall Parish Church. But the freezing fog that had lingered over the city for days moved in quickly, virtually trapping people indoors.
The last conversation she is known to have had was with her mother-in-law Elsie, who phoned shortly after 1pm to say she could not come and babysit her 22-day-old grandson Andrew because of the fog.
When Brian Dutton, a research chemist for ICI in Widnes, returned home at 6.10 that night he was puzzled to see the house in darkness.
Entering slowly, he began to grow worried when he saw the family?s lunch lying half-eaten in the morning room.
And when he pushed open the door to the living room he made the most grisly of discoveries.
There in the middle of the room was his wife ? dead after suffering multiple stab wounds.
His son David was sitting in a daze staring at his prone mother having apparently witnessed the killing. His brother Andrew lay in a basket just yards away.
Police scoured the area but found no murder weapon and neighbours could not pinpoint anyone seen acting suspiciously.
The seemingly motiveless killing then began to spawn numerous theories, none of which could be discounted entirely.
All police knew was that nothing had been stolen.And it appears Mrs Dutton opened the door to her killer as there were no signs of a struggle or forced entry at the house.
The newspapers quickly splashed news of the ?Knotty Ash Murder? all over the city and Old Swan Police Station became the centre of operations.
Mrs Dutton was stabbed 14 times by someone she had apparently allowed into the house.
Possible leads ? including a seemingly crazy woman on a bus muttering how she had done something terrible and needed to escape the city ? came and went, but nothing that could be classed as hard evidence materialised.
Then police were told by a woman who, like Maureen Dutton, had recently given birth that she was called on by a bogus doctor who examined her.
When the woman?s husband made enquiries about the mystery doctor he was told there was no doctor operating in the area at the time and he called the police.
The focus of the investigation swung towards tracking the fraudster but, in the background, one constant kept cropping up.
Neighbours began to talk of a good-looking young stranger in a leather jacket seen nearby.
By January 17, police had amassed 20,000 statements and put together an identikit of what they believed the man could look like. It was carried on the ECHO?s front page the next day ? the first colour identikit to be published in a newspaper.
More than 60 people responded within the first 24 hours.
And while many were mistaken about the identity of the mystery man as names were quickly discounted police began to build a picture about the suspect.
But he was never found.
One of the most bizarre theories detectives considered, for a short while, was that Mrs Dutton was killed by a Polynesian cult as a sacrifice to their God Tiki.
In a twist, a 24-year-old male nurse living in Upper Parliament Street was arrested and charged with theft of drugs and equipment from three Liverpool hospitals in 1962.
He was also said to have masqueraded as a doctor and had a reversed swastika tattoo on his arm ? the identification mark of a Tiki-worshipper.
Police thought it was the break through they had been waiting for.
But soon he, too, was eliminated from inquiries and detectives were back to square one ? exactly the same place as they remain today.