August 17

This Day in History

Crime

Aug 17, 1984:

A serial rapist strikes in England

The serial burglar and rapist known as "the Fox" breaks into a house and physically assaults a girl, her boyfriend and the girl's brother near the village of Brampton, England. After raping the woman, the attacker proceeded to remove any traces of evidence from both his victim's body and the surrounding area.The attack turned out to be a part of a crime spree had had begun in the spring of 1984 when a hooded burglar broke into several houses in an area north of London. A few months later, the thief turned to rape.

Despite the attacker's efforts, detectives called to the scene near Brampton found fresh tire tracks in a field next to the victim's home and a tiny flake of yellow paint on a nearby tree. A shotgun that the Fox had stolen from a previous victim was also found, hidden under some leaves. Police staked out the site, hoping that the Fox might return for the gun, but he never did. Fortunately, the paint flake turned out to be an essential clue; apparently, the color had been used only on a single model of a particular car manufacturer, Leyland, and that the car was produced in 1973 and 1974.

The victims also reported that the Fox had a northern accent. When investigators checked their records, they found more than 3,000 known burglars who were from northern England but had moved south. Detectives sent to investigate each of these men found a man washing a yellow Leyland in front of his house on September 11. Upon closer inspection, they noticed that a bit of paint was missing from the back of the car.

Malcolm Fairley confessed to the crimes after his arrest and received six life sentences in 1985.

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