Police’s 60th anniversary appeal to find killer of 17-year-old discovered in Whitwell woodland

PUBLISHED: 12:15 21 December 2017 | UPDATED: 12:23 21 December 2017

Anne Noblett's body was found in woodland near Whitwell. Picture: Herts Police

Anne Noblett's body was found in woodland near Whitwell. Picture: Herts Police


Detectives are making a special anniversary appeal for information over the murder of a teenager girl whose body was discovered in a woodland not far from Hitchin 60 years ago.

The Whitwell woodland where Anne Noblett's body was found. Picture: Herts PoliceThe Whitwell woodland where Anne Noblett's body was found. Picture: Herts Police

Detectives from the Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire Major Crime Unit are still trying to find out what happened to Anne Noblett.

Anne’s body was discovered in woodland near Whitwell on January 31, 1958, by dog walkers – 32 days after she went missing on December 30, 1957.

Detectives have reviewed Anne’s case on a number of occasions previously, but have been unable to identify her killer.

Anne’s family is aware of the new appeal and remain desperate to understand what happened to her. Her loss is still felt every day despite the passage of time.

The crime scene. Picture: Herts PoliceThe crime scene. Picture: Herts Police

Mick Flavin, from the Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire Investigation Review Team, said: “Today, six decades later, we are appealing for anyone who may have information but may not have felt that they could come to police earlier to please get in touch.

“You may be able to give Anne’s family some answers about her untimely death.

“It’s still not too late to contact us and share what you know no matter how irrelevant it may seem.

“If you have any concerns in relation to coming forward then please be reassured that our specialist officers will provide you with support.”

Anne Noblett, who was 17 when she was murdered. Picture: Herts PoliceAnne Noblett, who was 17 when she was murdered. Picture: Herts Police

Anne disappeared while returning home to Marshalls Heath Lane in Wheathampstead, after attending a dance class with friends in Harpenden.

The teenager had taken a bus home and got off at Cherry Tree Corner.

This was the last time she was seen alive.

It is believed that Anne was murdered within hours of her disappearance.

The cause of her death was strangulation and it is thought that after her death Anne’s body was stored before being moved to dense woodland in Rose Grove Woods, known locally as ‘Young’s Wood’ in Horn Hill, Whitwell.

Due to the condition of Anne’s body when it was found it was considered that she may have been held in cold storage for some time before being abandoned in the woods.

The initial investigation was carried out by officers from Hertfordshire Constabulary with support by senior detectives from Scotland Yard, which was normal practice at that time.

Extensive searches were carried out involving hundreds of police officers, police dogs, the military and members of the public, who volunteered to help.

At the time the investigation was widely covered by the national and local press.

A number of people were questioned by officers, but no-one was ever charged.

Mr Flavin added: “An unsolved murder is never closed and these cases are regularly reviewed to identify any new lines of enquiry that could be explored.

“Over the years we have kept in touch with Anne’s younger brother Hugh, who is understandably still deeply affected by her death.

“While we have considered the possibility that Anne’s killer may have since died, we are committed to answering the family’s questions about her death.”

Hugh said: “Anne was a much loved, gentle and caring sister and no day passes without me thinking of her and the tragic circumstances and mystery surrounding her death.

“As the 60th anniversary of her murder approaches, Paddy Gallagher and Mick Flavin from the Investigation Review Team have offered tremendous support and sensitivity in their communications with me.

“I appeal to anyone who may know anything, however insignificant, to come forward.

“Although nothing can bring back Anne, that information may help me finally find some closure.”

•Anyone with information should please call the Hertfordshire Constabulary non-emergency number 101 or the incident room on 01707 355666.

Alternatively contact the independent crime-fighting charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or through their anonymous online form at www.crimestoppers-uk.org.

No personal details are taken, information cannot be traced or recorded and you will not go to court.

If you value what this story gives you, please consider supporting the Comet. Click the link in the orange box above for details.

Become a supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Latest from the The Comet