Hope is all that sustains Phyllis Mayoh’s family: hope that her killer will be caught and jailed. “Mother’s gone for nothing”, they say, “if we can’t find who did it”.
Phyllis was a trusting soul, who left her front door unlocked to allow neighbours to pop-in for a cuppa. One Sunday in 2003, the 88-year-old finished washing-up in her kitchen in Bolton, wandered to her lounge, and found a teenage burglar demanding money. When she would not give-up her purse, he shattered her hip to prise it away. He fled with just £20, and she died in hospital.
All this week Granada Reports is re-examining a number of "cold cases" - unsolved murders where police have run out of leads. In the fourth such case, our correspondent Rob Smith has spoken to Phyllis’ loved ones, who say her absence from big family events hurts as much as the killer being free.
Phyllis’ daughter-in-law, Val, says that the memory of what happened, the void in the family’s life, and the lack of justice, are overwhelming. Gesturing with her hand to her head, as if batting thoughts to the back of her mind, she says: “Sometimes you have to say: Whoa! No! Go back in”.
The attacker was a 6ft teenager, aged 17 or 18, with mousy hair - according to the description Phyllis gave shortly before her death. He would now be in his late 20s. The pensioner’s son, Roy, says: “You drive around. You look at people now, ten years on, and think ‘Was it them?’ because they briefly matched the description”.
Detectives believe the murderer will have told someone what happened: a warped, macho act of bragging over the death of 4ft 10in pensioner who weighed just 38 kilos. Martin Bottomley, from Greater Manchester Police, says the killer’s confidante could be a now-disgruntled family member, girlfriend, or a cellmate. “Allegiances change”, he says, “somebody needs to remember now, and contact us”.
Anyone with any information on Phyllis’ murder is asked to call Greater Manchester Police on 101, or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111. You can follow Granada Reports’ week of cold cases on Twitter, under the hashtag #itvcoldcase.