Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Britain's Bizarre 'Hair-in-Hand' Murder Case

Last Seen

Heather Barnett
Heather Barnett

Heather Barnett, a seamstress who grew up in the nearby Dorset village of Sturminster Newton and was known to her friends as "Bunny," was last seen alive early that Tuesday morning when she had dropped Terry and Caitlin off at school. Due to a number of factors, including the condition of the blood at the crime scene, James and Cooper believed that Heather had been killed sometime during the following morning hours.

As officers fanned out through the neighborhood in search of clues and, with luck, someone who might have seen someone suspicious in the area on the day of the murder, they found one neighbor who had a video security camera aimed at the street. They hoped that the camera had captured the image of the man on video as he fled Heather's home, and appealed to others in the neighborhood with video security cameras on their property to come forward with video images captured on the day of Heather's murder.

Surveillance still of possible suspect
Surveillance still of possible suspect

"Residents are urged to come forward if they remember anything relevant to the inquiry, especially anyone outside her house on the day she was killed," Detective Superintendent James said.

James and Cooper also asked area residents to inspect their garages and tool sheds to determine whether anything such as a hammer and a knife might be missing. At this point they were grasping for anything they could that might provide a clue to help them solve the brutal case.

Identi-kit composite of a man seen in stained clothes near Barnett's house the morning of the murder
Identi-kit composite of a man seen in
stained clothes near Barnett's house
the morning of the murder

"This is an unusual murder case," Cooper said. "It continues to be a challenge, and, as always, the help of the public is vital."

As it turned out, the image of a man was, in fact, captured by a closed circuit television camera. A man was walking past Richmond Arms Pub on Charminster Road, not far from Heather Barnett's residence, at 9:30 a.m. on the day of the murder. Although the man was not immediately identified, the lead was considered potentially significant.


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