Susannah Jane Lamplugh (//; born 3 May 1961) was a British estate agent reported missing on 28 July 1986 (aged 25) in Fulham, London, England, United Kingdom. She was officially declared dead, presumed murdered, in 1993.
Disappearance of Suzy Lamplugh
|Born||3 May 1961|
Cheltenham, England, UK
|Disappeared||28 July 1986 (aged 25)|
Fulham, London, England, UK
|Status||Declared dead in absentia|
27 July 1993
The last clue to Lamplugh's whereabouts was an appointment to show a house in Shorrolds Road to someone she referred to as "Mr Kipper". As of March 2022[update], the case remains unsolved.
John Cannan, a convicted criminal responsible for the murder of Shirley Banks in 1987 and many other rapes, abductions and attempted abductions since his release from prison three days before Lamplugh's disappearance, is the only suspect in the murder of Lamplugh. In November 2002, the Crown Prosecution Service decided that there was insufficient evidence to charge Cannan, but that month police announced at a press conference, in an extremely rare move, that they believed Cannan was the man who murdered Lamplugh. Cannan himself says he knows who killed Lamplugh, and states that this person is the same person responsible for the murder of Shirley Banks, which he himself was convicted of. DNA evidence has also shown that Lamplugh had previously been in a car he owned at the time of her disappearance. He will be eligible for parole in 2022.
Lamplugh was an estate agent (Sturgis Estate Agents, 654 Fulham Road, SW6 5RU), who was reported missing after attending an appointment with someone calling himself "Mr Kipper", to show him round a house in Shorrolds Road, Fulham. Her office diary recorded the details of the appointment as: "12.45 Mr. Kipper – 37 Shorrolds O/S". The "O/S" annotation means "outside the property". Witnesses reported seeing a woman, who resembled Lamplugh, talking to a man in Shorrolds Road and then getting into a car.
Lamplugh's white Ford Fiesta (registration: B396 GAN) was found on the night of 28 July, outside a property for sale in Stevenage Road, Fulham, which is about 0.5 miles (0.8 km) away. The handbrake was off and the car key was missing. Lamplugh's purse was found in the car.
Police suggested that a black, left-hand drive BMW vehicle may have been involved, because of an eyewitness account of a car of that description seen at the same location as Lamplugh's car in Stevenage Road. For some time after her disappearance, it was believed that "Kipper" was her pronunciation of the Dutch name "Kuiper", but police investigations failed to identify anyone of that name in connection with Lamplugh.
In June 2019, a former police detective suggested that the 'Mr Kipper' diary entry might have been a cover story.
Following Lamplugh's disappearance, police tested the DNA of 800 unidentified bodies and skeletal remains that matched her description. Lamplugh was officially declared dead, at her parents' behest, exactly seven years after her 1986 disappearance, on 27 July 1993; she was presumed to have been murdered. Renewed police investigations in 1998 and 2000 failed to trace her. The investigation was summarised in an ITV Real Crime programme in 2002. In June 2021, criminologist David Wilson in Channel 4's In The Footsteps of a Killer hypothesised with presenter Emilia Fox that killer John Cannan had dumped Lamplugh's body in the River Brent.
In November 2002, it was reported that convicted rapist and murderer John Cannan could have killed Lamplugh. He was released from a prison hostel only days before she went missing, and it was claimed that his nickname in prison was "Kipper". That month, Scotland Yard held a press conference at which officers named Cannan as the person they believed to have murdered Lamplugh. Cannan denied any involvement.
In April 2001, a previous girlfriend of Cannan, Gilly Paige, told police that he had suggested Lamplugh's body was buried at Norton Barracks, a former military base in Worcestershire. However, in December 2002, one of Cannan's fellow prisoners told police that Cannan had buried Lamplugh under the patio of his mother's house in Sutton Coldfield, in the West Midlands.
In 1982, Lamplugh had worked as a beautician on the ocean liner Queen Elizabeth 2. At the same time, Steve Wright, who was convicted in February 2008 of the murder of five women in Ipswich, was working as a steward on the QE2. In 2008, the Metropolitan Police investigated whether Wright was connected with Lamplugh's disappearance, but this was not a strong line of enquiry and a senior Met police officer described the link as "speculative".
In August 2010, police began searching a field off the B4084 between Pershore and Drakes Broughton, about three miles from the former Norton Barracks in Worcestershire, where a search had previously been carried out in December 2000 and February 2001. In December 2000, police had also searched a nearby brickworks, which had been mentioned in several of the original witness statements. The 2010 search proved unsuccessful and Lamplugh's remains were not found.
In late October 2018, police began searching the former house of Cannan's mother in Sutton Coldfield, the same property that was searched in 2002. They dismantled the garage and began removing its concrete floor, whilst also carrying out a search of the back garden. On 12 November 2018, police announced that the search of the property had ended and no evidence had been found.
In July 2019, a police search of land in Pershore, with the assistance of archaeologists, produced no relevant evidence. In August 2019, the Specialist Investigation Team received a sighting from the time of the disappearance of a man resembling Cannan dumping a suitcase in the Grand Union Canal. However, this was a section of the canal previously searched in September 2014 for an unrelated inquiry. This canal sighting was covered in The Vanishing of Suzy Lamplugh and In the Footsteps of Killers
John Cannan as the prime suspectEdit
Re-investigations of the case in the 2000s established that John Cannan was the prime suspect, although the media at the time of Lamplugh's disappearance speculated Cannan was responsible for her abduction and death. Cannan was originally interviewed by police over her disappearance in 1988, 1989 and 1990. Further interviews were carried out with Cannan during the re-investigation in the early 2000s. He remains the prime suspect in the case.
In 2007, a criminologist who had corresponded with Cannan revealed that the police re-investigations of 2000–2002 had discovered DNA evidence in a car previously owned by Cannan that showed Lamplugh had previously been inside the vehicle. The criminologist had pointed out to police that Cannan had access to a red Ford Fiesta at the time Lamplugh disappeared, which police were previously unaware of. Detectives subsequently attempted to find the car and discovered it in a scrap yard, before they conducted the DNA analysis on it. Although these tests indicated Lamplugh had been in the car, as well as Cannan, the Crown Prosecution Service felt there was insufficient evidence to prove that they had been in the vehicle at the same time, meaning charges were unable to be brought against Cannan for her murder.
Cannan bears a striking resemblance to the photofits of the man seen with Lamplugh on the day she vanished. Cannan's nickname in prison was also "Mr Kipper" due to his preference for wearing kipper-style broad ties. Cannan kidnapped and murdered 29-year-old Shirley Banks 15 months after Lamplugh's disappearance, and when he was arrested for this offence Banks' car was discovered hidden and repainted in his garage with a false number plate affixed reading "SLP 386". Police believe this number plate could refer to Suzy Lamplugh (SLP) and 1986, the year of her murder. Alternatively, police believed it could also be coordinates on a map, as this would give a location very close to Norton Barracks, which was a location a former girlfriend of Cannan told police he had joked about being the place where Lamplugh was buried (although she later withdrew this claim). When Cannan was asked by detectives if he understood the significance of the number plate, he immediately replied that he did as it could be seen as a reference to Suzy Lamplugh, but claimed that he chose the letters on the plate at random. He claimed that he had bought the car off a "Bristol businessman" who was responsible for "the murders of Shirley Banks, Suzy Lamplugh and another girl", and that this man was in a lot of trouble. Cannan himself was known for masquerading as a Bristol businessman. When asked if this man was him, Cannan replied "yes" but then immediately recanted and ended the interview.
During the re-investigation in the early 2000s, a mass of circumstantial evidence was uncovered that pointed to Cannan. Cannan had been released from an open prison three days before Lamplugh vanished, and the prison he was released from was three miles from the estate agent office Lamplugh worked in. In the time leading up to disappearance, it was later disclosed that Lamplugh had a new boyfriend from the Bristol area, to which Cannan later moved and where his family were from, and Lamplugh had told a relative shortly before she vanished that she was concerned about this man and that she was getting scared of him. Despite being in prison in the borough of Hammersmith and Fulham before the disappearance, Cannan denied ever having been to Fulham, where Lamplugh vanished from. Police disproved this as he was known to have had work experience in the area at the time while on day release from the open prison. Witnesses came forward to tell police that they had seen a man and a woman resembling Lamplugh and Cannan having an argument in a car on the day of the disappearance, and that the car was a dark-coloured left-hand BMW. This was significant as Cannan owned a dark-coloured left-hand drive BMW, which he used to commit crimes with a fellow inmate. Cannan had also shown up uninvited to a house that was for sale in Fulham days before Lamplugh was last seen believing that the young female occupant was alone in the house, and started acting strangely until the woman's husband appeared, causing Cannan to quickly leave. Witnesses also placed Cannan looking into Lamplugh's estate agent's window the day before she went missing. Cannan did not have an alibi for the days after leaving prison and conveniently does not recall where he was, despite having an impeccable memory of other events at the time.
The Crown Prosecution Service agreed that the police reinvestigation in the early 2000s had been excellent and thorough, but ultimately decided that there was insufficient evidence to charge Cannan with the murder of Lamplugh. The police so strongly felt Cannan was responsible, however, that they announced in a press conference in November 2002, in an extremely rare move, that they believed Cannan was responsible.
Suzy Lamplugh TrustEdit
The Suzy Lamplugh Trust is a charitable foundation established in December 1986 by Lamplugh's parents, Paul and Diana. The mission of the Trust is to raise awareness of personal safety through training and various projects, to help people avoid becoming victims of aggression, and to offer counselling and support to relatives and friends of missing people. The Trust runs the UK's The National Stalking Helpline and organises National Personal Safety Day, an annual event that was first held in 2006.
Paul and Diana Lamplugh were appointed to OBE, in 1992 and 2005 respectively, for their charitable work with the Suzy Lamplugh Trust. Diana Lamplugh died in August 2011 at the age of 75, and Paul Lamplugh died aged 87 in June 2018. Rachel Griffin, CEO of the Trust since 2012, died of cancer in August 2019.
Lamplugh and her family were members of the congregation at All Saints Church, East Sheen, in the London Borough of Richmond upon Thames. She is commemorated there in a stained glass window which was installed in 1996.
- List of people who disappeared
- Murder of Lindsay Buziak – the 2008 murder of a real estate agent in Canada, after she met clients about whom she had expressed concerns
- Murder of Lindsay Rimer – unsolved 1994 case of a British girl who disappeared from Yorkshire and was found a year later in a nearby canal
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- Berry-Dee & Odell, pp. 346–347. sfn error: no target: CITEREFBerry-DeeOdell (help)
- Berry-Dee 2007, pp. 346–347. sfn error: no target: CITEREFBerry-Dee2007 (help)
- Berry-Dee & Odell 2007, p. 72.
- Berry-Dee & Odell 2007, p. 77.
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- Berry-Dee & Odell 2007, pp. 78–79.
- "The Suzy Lamplugh Trust, registered charity no. 802567". Charity Commission for England and Wales.
- "Suzy Lamplugh: Father 'little hope left' after 30-year search". BBC News. 28 July 2016. Retrieved 9 November 2020.
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- Howard, Vanessa (2009). "Chapter Five: Suzy Lamplugh, 'Life is for Living'". Britain's Ten Most Wanted: The Truth Behind the Most Shocking Unsolved Murders (Online copy). London: John Blake. pp. 115–146. ISBN 978-1-84454-759-3. Retrieved 4 January 2022.
- The Suzy Lamplugh Trust An organisation created by Diana Lamplugh – Suzy's mother – to promote personal safety.
- The search for Suzy from the BBC.
- BBC On this Day BBC page on 30 July 1986, the day the appeal was made by Lamplugh's parents for her safe return.
- Witness describes 'Lamplugh kidnap' from the BBC.
- Casefile True Crime Podcast – Case 48: Suzy Lamplugh – 4 March 2017