Death of Keith Lyon

Keith Lyon was a British schoolboy who was murdered in 1967 while walking alone on the South Downs.[1] The murderer has never been identified and no charges have ever been made.[2][3] The murder investigation that took place following the murder has been described as one of the biggest to have ever taken place in Sussex.[3]

Happy Valley and Woodingdean seen from Ovingdean Road, Ovingdean


Keith Lyon was 12 years old when he was murdered.[1] Lyon attended Brighton, Hove and Sussex Grammar School and was a gifted classical musician.[4] His parents were Valda and Ken Lyon, the latter of whom was a band leader in Brighton.[2] He had a younger brother, named Peter,[2] who was 7 at the time of the murder.[5] The family lived in the village of Ovingdean.[2]

Day of the murderEdit

On Saturday 6 May 1967[1] Lyon left his house after 2 pm[6] to walk to Woodingdean on his own to buy a geometry set.[2] Lyon was walking along a bridleway that links the villages of Ovingdean and Woodingdean, in an area called Happy Valley near Brighton.[4] Keith was wearing his school uniform even though it was a Saturday.[4] At approximately 3 pm (about 45 minutes after leaving his home) Lyon was attacked and stabbed to death.[6]

At 4:15pm a 16 year old girl discovered the body while walking her dog.[1] The body was found in a location that overlooks the English Channel and is above the private girls school Roedean.[2] The body was discovered under some bushes[1] on a grassy bank.[3] and it appeared to have been thrown from the bridleway down the hill.[2] The girl ran back to Woodingdean to fetch the police who arrived quickly and cordoned off the area.[6]

Lyon had been stabbed 11 times in his front and back.[4] Lyon’s pockets had been turned out and his 4 shilling pocket money and keys were missing.[1][2] Later that day Ken Lyon was preparing to perform at the Metropole Hotel in Brighton when he was notified of the death of his son.[7]

Subsequent eventsEdit

A few days after the murder a steak knife with a white handle was found in the grounds of a school around a mile away.[4] Evidence was also discovered that someone had cleaned blood off themselves at a nearby public toilet.[1] The blood was found to be Lyon’s.[8] Two female witnesses reported seeing four boys fighting near some bushes on the bridleway on the afternoon of the murder at a time prior to the discovery.[2] A bus driver reported that on the day of the murder he noticed that two youths on his bus, that was travelling to Whitehawk, were in a visibly agitated state.[2]

The murder investigation that took place following the murder has been described as one of the biggest to have ever taken place in Sussex.[3] 75,000 house-to-house inquiries were made and 2000 school children were interviewed.[2] The police took the fingerprints of over 5000 teenagers in the area. Despite there being a number of suspects no charges were ever made.[3]

In 2002 the murder weapon and other items associated with the case were rediscovered in the basement of the Brighton police station.[3] The other items included a cigarette butt, clothes and a blood stained tissue.[7] Following this rediscovery, two men were arrested. However, they were released on bail and after four months the police confirmed that they were no longer suspects.[8]

In 2006 it was announced that police were looking for a family that emigrated to Canada with their teenage son shortly after the murder.[3]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g Staff, Home (19 September 2007). "Brother appeals for help to solve 40 year old murder". The Times. ISSN 0140-0460. Retrieved 28 August 2018.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Campbell, Duncan (19 September 2007). "Forty years on, DNA clues help police close in on boy's killer". the Guardian. Retrieved 28 August 2018.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g Staff (31 July 2006). "Arrests over 1967 child killing". BBC News. Retrieved 28 August 2018.
  4. ^ a b c d e Bale, Joanna (1 August 2006). "Two held over 1967 schoolboy killing". The Times. ISSN 0140-0460. Retrieved 28 August 2018.
  5. ^ Sapsted, David (31 July 2006). "Long-lost knife leads to arrests over 1967 murder". The Daily Telegraph. ISSN 0307-1235. Retrieved 28 August 2018.
  6. ^ a b c "Keith Lyon". Old Police Cells Museum. Retrieved 28 August 2018.
  7. ^ a b "Police forensics: Cold case files". The Independent. Retrieved 28 August 2018.
  8. ^ a b Collis, Rose (2013). Death and the City: The nation's experience, told through Brighton's history. Hanover Press. p. 137. ISBN 978-1-906469-48-1.

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