Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Terror in Hungerford

The First Victim

Lone Wolf
Lone Wolf
This incident and those that followed are fully described in Lone Wolf, Mass Murderers, and The Encyclopedia of Mass Murder, as well as in several local and international newspapers, catalogued by Internet sources devoted to mass murder.   At times, sources conflict, so its difficult to tell if certain details are correct, and those details are noted throughout.

Susan Godfrey
Susan Godfrey
Susan Godfrey, 35, had come to the area with her children, Hannah, 4, and James, 2.  They ate lunch out in the open and then decided to spend more time in the park before going to the house of Susans grandmother for her 95th birthday.  Susan placed their picnic items into the basket in preparation to leave, unaware that a man was watching her from a parked car.  She was an attractive woman in her blue dress and he was in the habit of watching such women from a distance.  He liked to think of himself as a soldier of fortune type, skillful in surveillance without being discovered.  Yet this time he decided to act.  He got out of the car and came walking over to the young family.As Susan looked up, she saw how alarming this man looked in his black clothing, and with his grim expression.  Then she spotted the pistol he carried, aimed at her.

Put your children in the car, he ordered, gesturing with the gun.

Susan rushed to obey.  She tried not to show her children how terrified she was, perhaps believing that if she simply did as this man asked, he would just take what he wanted and leave them alone.  She glanced around.  There was no one to call to.  She had deliberately selected an isolated spot, so she knew she was on her own.  She just wanted to make sure her children did not get hurt.  Getting them into the car, she fumbled with the straps to the seat belts.  She did not want either one impulsively getting out, especially if this man took her some place out of their sight.  Susan reassured them that she would soon be back and she fervently hoped that was true.

 

As she returned to where the man stood waiting, he picked up the picnic groundsheet and ordered Susan to walk into the woods with him.   It seemed fairly clear what he had in mind, although she did not know if he might kill her as well.  She was only five feet tall, and although he was short and pudgy, she was no match for him, especially with a gun.  What happened between them can only be guessed, as he soon shot her 13 times, dropped the groundsheet about 10 yards away, and sprinted back to his car.  Without a word to the children, who heard the shots and were watching him, he got in and drove away, leaving them to wait and wonder what had happened to their mother.   (Some accounts indicate that the children were with her when she was shot, but that is contrary to the most reliable reports on the incident.) 

Time passed and eventually Hannah unstrapped them both so they could leave the car to look for their mother.  A woman found them there, wandering around, and as Hannah explained that a man in black had shot their mummy, the woman could barely believe their story.  She was certain they were making it up and that a worried mother was looking for them, so she took them by the hand to make sure they did not get out of her sight.  She wanted to help them find their mother, but they seemed unable to assist in finding their way back to where they had been.

A police officer, checking out the empty car, found Susan Godfrey first.  She lay on her side, fully clothed but riddled with bullet holes, just 250 feet from her car.  On the ground nearby were two groups of 9-mm spent cartridges of German manufacture.  There was no explanation as to why she had been shot but her children were spared.  Yet it wasnt long before her death would be connected via ballistics analysis to what had already occurred that afternoon in town.  The killer had left Susan there to continue his rendezvous with death.  Thanks to his next stop not far from the Savernake Woods, the police were able to accurately map his trail that day.

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