Lancashire Police have today (10th March) renewed their appeal to find the murderer of a 75-year-old grandmother who died while recovering from a stroke in Blackpool Victoria Hospital, warning she may have been killed by a predator who could strike again.
Valerie Kneale (pictured) had been sitting up and talking when relatives visited her in hospital. Her grown-up children wanted to stay the night with her but medics said there was no need. However, she suffered a devastating second stroke and never regained consciousness. During her post-mortem examination, it was discovered that she had bled to death due to being assaulted, possibly sexually.
Despite detectives interviewing thousands – including ward staff, patients and visitors – no one has been charged with the murder.
Detective Chief Inspector Jill Johnston, of Lancashire Police, said: ‘This may be at the hands of somebody who is a predator and who may have committed previous attacks of this nature and may continue to do so.’
Mrs Kneale, who lived with husband Bill in Knott End-on-Sea, Lancashire, was taken to hospital on November 12, 2018, after falling ill. Her niece, Lisa Jaffier, told BBC’s Crimewatch Live this week: ‘She was sat up, she was communicating. Obviously she was going to have challenges in her recovery but we were all very hopeful of a positive outcome. Her children wanted to stay with her that evening but the hospital said she was in the best place that she could be in, there’s really no need, she’s going to be absolutely fine.’
However, Mrs Kneale took a turn for the worse – doctors said she would not recover and the family agreed to withdraw treatment. She died on 16th November. But in a routine post-mortem test, a pathologist found she suffered a horrific internal injury and told the police. An inquest heard the pathologist ‘felt’ that Mrs Kneale’s injury ‘was caused by a forcible sexual assault after she was admitted to hospital’.
Following the reconstruction on Crimewatch Live DCI Jill Johnston, who is leading the investigation, said: ‘We have received a positive response to this week’s Crimewatch appeal and would like to thank those that have taken the time to get in touch. We are working through the information provided to establish any new lines of inquiry. I would still like to appeal for information and would once again encourage anyone who can assist our investigation to come forward.
The DCI continued, ‘For over four years Valerie’s family have been left truly devastated by her death – they are desperate for answers and cannot rest until they understand what happened. And at a time when she really was at her most vulnerable. Please help us to get some closure for the family and get in touch.‘
If you can help, contact the police incident room number on (01253) 604406 or email OpJordan@lancashire.police.uk quoting log 0244 of March 2.
Alternatively, if you want to remain anonymous, please call independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 or email www.crimestoppers-uk.org.
Independent charity Crimestoppers have announced a £20,000 reward for any information that leads to the conviction of her murderer.