Unsolved: Here are three Brighton murder mysteries that remain unresolved

The dark side of our town


Brighton, the world's most hipster city with the beautiful South Downs right on its doorstep. Although Brighton is viewed by many to be one of the best cities in the UK, Brighton also has a dark past. Here's three unsolved mysteries that happened right on our doorstep.

The Beast of Stanmer

Stanmer Park is a hotspot for Sussex freshers in the final few weeks of term – sipping Dark Fruits and blasting out Lorde on a bluetooth speaker. But it is also the home of a brutal, unprovoked murder.

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Stanmer Park

Margaret Frame was a 36-year-old mother, described by her family as "reserved and quiet". On the evening of October 12th 1978, Margaret walked from her job as a cleaner in Falmer Comprehensive School, to her family home in Coldean – a journey which took her across Stanmer Park.

She had done this walk nearly everyday during the time she worked at the school, and crossing through the park, even at night, wouldn't have given Margaret second thought. However, leaving work that evening was the last time Margaret was seen alive.

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Margaret with her husband, Peter

Margaret never arrived home from work. After 24 hours of looking for his wife, Margaret's husband informed the police of her disappearance and an investigation was launched.

After 10 days, the worst was realised when Margaret's body was discovered in a shallow grave in Stanmer Park. She had been attacked, raped and mutilated.

Confusingly for investigators, they discovered that Margaret's attacker had returned to her body some time after the murder, and dragged her 500 yards across Stanmer Park. They then removed her clothes and jewellery and made a failed attempt at removing her head, in order to make identifying Margaret more difficult.

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The Sussex student newspaper warning students to stay away from Stanmer Park.

Local newspaper, The Argus reported that detectives at the time believed the perpetrator "may have watched police searching areas of Stanmer Park woods and when he was sure one spot had been checked, moved the body there in the hope police would not cover the same ground again".

Little evidence was left behind and consequently nobody has been arrested for the murder of Margaret Frame.

Considering this murder happened only 40 years ago, and the perpetrator must have been relatively young and able in order to drag Margaret's body 500 yards, it is possible that the Beast of Stanmer is still living near Stanmer Park to this day.

The Brighton Trunk Murders

On June 17th 1934, a smell emanating from an abandoned trunk in Brighton Train Station resulted in the police being called. On the arrival of the police, Chief Inspector Ronald Donaldson opened the trunk to reveal a female dismembered torso.

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Brighton Station circa 1960s

The Brighton police alerted other stations of the discovery, and a suitcase was discovered in King's Cross station containing a pair of female legs. It is said the legs looked like those of a dancer, leading to the nickname of the dismembered body as "Pretty Feet".

A post mortem concluded that the body and legs belonged to the same woman. The woman was between 21 and 28-years-old and five months pregnant. The head and arms were never discovered. No arrests were ever made.

This is where things get weird. The police's search for evidence in the case of "Pretty Feet" resulted in the discovery of a second body in a trunk, within walking distance of the location of the first trunk, but seemingly completely unrelated.

The body of Violette Kaye, a 42-year-old dancer and sex worker was discovered in a trunk, located in a flat on Kemp Street.

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One of Brighton's most instagrammable streets. In 1934, Kemp Street was at the centre of one of Brighton's most horrific crimes

Kaye had last been seen on May 10th 1934, where she had publicly and drunkenly accused her lover, Toni Mancini, of having an affair with a teenage waitress. Kaye was never seen again.

In the following days, Mancini told friends that Violette Kaye had gone to Paris. Kaye's sister-in-law received a telegram which read "Going abroad. Good job. Sail Sunday. Will write — Vi". However, police discovered that this telegram was sent after Violette was already dead.

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Viollet Kaye, taken shortly before her murder

Unsurprisingly, police decided to investigate Mancini, however, he went on the run. After a brief manhunt, he was arrested in South London.

Mancini claimed he had discovered Kaye's body at his flat in Park Crescent. He came to the conclusion that Violette's murder must have been the work of one of her clients. Fearing he would be implicated in the murder, he stuffed Violette's body into a trunk, sent a telegram to Kaye's sister-in-law and asked friends to provide alibis for him.

Mancini not only put Violette's body in a trunk, it remained there for over a month. He even moved house during this period, and, even more grotesquely, used the trunk, which contained the body of his lover, as a coffee table, with many guests complaining about the smell and fluids appearing to come from the trunk.

However, police failed to believe Mancini's story and he was put on trial for murder.

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Toni Mancini's mugshot

After a five day trial, and two and a half hours of deliberation, a jury found Toni Mancini not guilty of the murder or Violette Kaye. Due, primarily, to attitudes towards sex workers at the time, and witnesses that testified that Mancini and Kaye's relationship seemed content.

This story has one final twist. In 1976, just before his death, Toni Mancini finally confessed to the murder of Violette Kaye, stating that he acted in self defence, and killed her by accident.

What is perhaps most unbelievable about this story is that two bodies were discovered in two separate trunks near Brighton train station at the same time, yet there has never been any evidence to suggest these crimes are related in anyway.

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'Babes in the Wood' Murder

This is one of Brighton's, if not the UK's, most gruesome, and most prolific unsolved crimes.

On October 9th 1986, Nicola Fellows, aged nine, and Karen Hadaway, aged 10, left their homes in Moulsecombe to play outside. They were never seen alive again.

After a huge manhunt was launched, involving over 150 police officers, the girls' bodies were found raped and murdered in Wild Park, Moulsecoomb. The attention of the police immediately turned to local teenager Russell Bishop.

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Wild Park, the area where the bodies of Karen Hadaway and Nicola Fellows was found

Bishop had been around the park at the time of the girls disappearance, was familiar to the girls, and reportedly told police what position the girls bodies would be found in.

He was put on trial for murder, but the jury was not convinced beyond reasonable doubt by the evidence put forward by prosecutors. He was found not guilty.

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The area where the girl's bodies were found. There now stands a memorial tree.

Bishop, now aged 52, was recently rearrested for the murder of the two girls, after new evidence was discovered by Sussex Police.

He is currently standing trial again for the murder of Karen Hadaway and Nicola Fellows, with jurors recently being taken to Wild Park to witness the spot where the girls died. He still pleads not guilty.

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Russell Bishop, now 52, after his rearrest for the murder of the two school girls.