Fresh appeal for information in historical unsolved Thames Valley murder case

Rita Ellis had just started her RAF career when she was killed. Credit: Thames Valley Police

Detectives have issued a fresh appeal for information in what is one of the oldest unsolved murders in the Thames Valley.

Rita Ellis from Stevenage in Hertfordshire, was murdered at RAF Halton in Buckinghamshire on 11th November 1967.

At 10.30am on Sunday 12th November Rita’s body was found on the camp by a dog walker near a disused railway at the old coal yard about 250 yards from the main road from Wendover to Tring.

The entrance to the disused coal yard where Rita's body was found. Credit: Thames Valley Police

The 19-year-old's body had been covered by leaves and foliage.

Rita, who was stationed at the camp, had been sexually assaulted and strangled by a ligature made out of her underwear.

Rita's handbag, towel and nightdress were found at the scene. Credit: Thames Valley Police

At the time of the murder, Thames Valley Police did not exist, the local police force was Buckinghamshire Constabulary, however it was New Scotland Yard that led the investigation.

Head of the Thames Valley Police Major Crime Review Team, Peter Beirne said: "There will be people out there who have suspicions about who murdered Rita Ellis and we want to hear from them.

"Just give us the name of who you suspect, we don’t need any of your personal details. Call 101 or email with the name of the person or persons you suspect.

"The person responsible for Rita’s murder will have had this horrific act on their conscience for 53 years, and there has to be a possibility that they have confided in someone during this time. If you have any information, even if you think the information is insignificant, please come forward.

"In the time that has passed allegiances may have changed or perhaps you couldn’t come forward at the time for whatever reason but now you can."

Rita had a sister and two younger brothers. Credit: Thames Valley Police

Rita was the eldest of four siblings. Rita’s sister, Tina, was 10-years-old at the time of the murder. Rita’s two younger brothers were aged 13 and 17 at the time.

Rita’s parents, who have since died, lived in Stevenage, Hertfordshire.

On 28 April 1967 Rita joined the RAF, initially training at Spittlegate RAF in Grantham, Lincolnshire, and was then drafted to RAF Halton on 21 June of the same year.

She was a trade assistant and was obtaining extra qualifications as part of her training with the RAF.

Rita lived in building 314 of block 7 in the Women’s Royal Airforce accommodation.

Rita lived on site at RAF Halton in Buckinghamshire. Credit: ITV News Meridian

Three years ago, on the 50th anniversary of the murder, Rita’s sister, Tina said: “Rita was wonderful. She was so kind, so caring, and so supportive but she seemed to be frightened of certain situations and used to scare quite easily. She was painfully shy so going into the RAF was great for Rita because it broadened her horizons and gave her the confidence which she didn’t have.

“After Rita died I used to read the newspaper cuttings and it used to give me nightmares. I tried to understand it but I just kept thinking about whether she suffered - those things went through my head even as a ten-year-old.

“Rita’s murder has had a huge impact on me and my family. My mother and Rita were incredibly close, they were like sisters. My mother was never the same after Rita died, my mother had a number of illnesses and incidentally she died on the same day as Rita on 11th November in 1994.

“It’s been a long time coming but we want justice for Rita. Someone, somewhere must have some information. I urge them to please come forward to the police and give us closure and allow Rita to be at peace.”