Hunt for boy who heard killer’s voice after mum had throat slit in savage murder

The mum of a mentally ill woman brutally murdered 20 years ago today is calling for a schoolboy who may have heard the killer's voice to come forward.

The body of 38-year-old Susan Kelly was found by a dog-walker in an alley off Blessington Road, Anfield on September 4, 2000. Her throat had been cut and her body bore the marks of a savage beating with 29 injuries, including a broken nose and jaw and six broken ribs.

Twenty years ago, a knock on the door left her mum Cathy Kelly's world falling apart.

"I put on the TV and the news came on, a girl was found murdered in Anfield, a young woman found with her throat cut and police were making enquiries," the 76-year-old told the Liverpool Echo.

"Well I just thought 'God help her' and didn't really think too much of it. The next thing there was a knock on the door and it was our Bill [Susan's brother] and his wife… He said 'sit down Mum'. I knew right away there was something wrong.

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"He said 'have you seen the news?' and as soon as he mentioned the news I knew. I said 'no, it wasn't her' and he said it was. One of the police officers had gone to school with them and he recognised Susan. I said 'oh no, God' and I just lost it, I just went to pieces."

The next day Cathy went to the crime scene on Blessington Road, and spoke to a group of sex workers gathered nearby. She said one was heavily pregnant, and told her that her son, aged around 12, had heard something in the early hours of the morning.

She said: "He heard a load of women arguing, and women crying on the entry. The next thing a fella said 'you have just f****** seen her haven't you? That's what will happen to you if you don't keep your mouth shut."

Cathy said the boy appeared terrified and would not speak directly to the police, but detectives were told what he had said and made efforts to try and trace the crying women. Despite another witness describing seeing two women crying on a bus, they were never found.

Cathy told the Echo: "That boy would be a 32-year-old man now. I don't know where he is now but I hope he comes forward."

Cathy says she never believed that 20 years on, Susan's death would remain unsolved, especially when a man was charged with murder in 2003. A court heard Susan's throat was believed to have been cut with a piece of broken pottery, and the case against the suspect rested on a fragment found at his flat.

However, the case was dismissed after an expert said he could not be 100% sure the fragment was from the same piece of pottery used to kill Susan, and bloody footprints found at the scene were too small for the defendant's feet.

Speaking after the acquittal in 2003, Detective Superintendent Peter Currie said the case could re-open: "This was a very thorough investigation over two and a half years. If any new lines of evidence or investigation come to light in the future we will obviously investigate it."

Until the age of 24, Susan was living a happy and productive life, settling down with a boyfriend and giving birth to a boy in 1982. But her life unravelled after her partner was jailed for drugs and gangsters broke into her flat, threatening her and her son.

Cathy said: "She came to me hysterical, screaming. From that day she was completely off her head. She had a hell of a time. Once [her boyfriend] went away she was left on her own and she had all these lads threatening her. She just broke down and she could not cope. I reckon that was the time she had a complete nervous breakdown."

She was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia, and as she became increasingly detached from reality her life spiralled out of control until her son was taken into care.

Cathy found herself in police stations and courtrooms listening to her daughter's delusions, often rooted in "religious mania" and hallucinations about Jesus. She had been known to occasionally engage in sex work, and other working girls recalled how she regaled them with tales of how "Jesus would forgive us."

Cathy said: "In the end her mind had completely gone, she didn't know her own name, where she lived, how old she was. She forgot her own son in the end, she could not remember anything."

Cathy last saw her daughter two weeks before she died, and says Susan was convinced she'd had a message from Jesus that she wouldn't be alive at 40.

"She was going out of the door and she turned to me and said 'mum, I love you.' I said 'I love you too,' and she walked away but came back and said 'mum, I really do love you'. I gave her a hug, she stayed for a moment, and I said 'I will see you around, ta-ra'. The next time I saw her was on a slab."

Since the first suspect was acquitted in court, two different men have been arrested on suspicion of murder and questioned. However, Merseyside Police said they were both released without charge and since then Cathy says she has heard nothing from the force.

With the case seemingly cold, Cathy is left with endless questions as to what really happened. But the pensioner says she has questions about several people with links to Susan. One, who knew Susan, had attacked her earlier on the day of her death according to a witness who later described the incident to Cathy.

The violent, unpredictable drug addict was, however, given an alibi by a notorious gangster who said the pair had been carrying out a robbery together at the time. That person was later jailed for attacking sex workers in a series of violent robberies over the summer of 2000.

Another theory links Susan's death to the murder of Julie Finley, found strangled in a carrot field in Rainhill in 1994. Witness accounts at the time reported her arguing with a man trying to force her into a van.

Media reports have linked a convicted double murderer, who drove a white transit van, to Julie's murder. Cathy told the Echo that around 12 months before her murder, Susan had turned up at her brother Bill's home in a panic, saying: "He's waiting for me out there in the white van."

She said: "He looked out the window and a white van was around the corner, you could just see the back end of it but he couldn't see the plates. He asked 'who is waiting for you? But Susan got off and he didn't know whether she went to the white van or not."

Cathy says she still suffers knowing Susan's killer could still be walking the streets.

"I'm getting to an age now where I wonder how long I have got left. If I go at the same age as my dad I have two years, and I don't think they will ever find him.

"I think; has he done it to someone else? Is he still doing that kind of thing? Is he sitting back laughing, ha ha ha? I go mad thinking about it."

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