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Cold Case: Aylesbury murder 25 years on

It's 25 years today since the body of John Sheppard was found on Cambridge street in Aylesbury

Published by Chris Maskery at 7:29am 3rd December 2019. (Updated at 8:18am 3rd December 2019) 6-minute read.

Cold Case: Aylesbury murder 25 years on

Thames Valley Police are appealing for more information 25 years on from an unsolved murder in Aylesbury

On this day (3rd December) in 1994, John Sheppard was found dead in the John Horwood bookmakers on Cambridge Street.

25 years later and with no charges ever made in the murder case Thames Valley Police are appealing for any information or suspicions.

John was repeatedly stabbed and was hit on the head. The murder weapons have never been located.

Outside John Horwood bookmakers
Outside John Horwood bookmakers

What Happened?

John, who was aged 66-years-old and from Leighton Buzzard, was working on Saturday 3 December 1994, as manager of the John Horwood bookmakers' in Cambridge Street.

At around 5pm, all the other staff had left for the day and John was alone in the premises.

The shop was a head office for a number of other John Horwood branches, and as such John was required to wait to receive details of the takings from the other shops before he finished work. 

Enquiries have revealed that at 5.15pm he had a short telephone call with a manager of another branch. Shortly after this time, John's branch was subject to a robbery.

John was repeatedly stabbed, believed to be with a knife, and was hit on the head, believed to be with a hammer. The murder weapons have never been located.

John Sheppard
John Sheppard

Money was stolen from the shop, however a large quantity of cash was left in John's pockets. It is unknown how the offenders entered the shop.

The alarm was raised when John did not meet a friend that evening, as he had planned.

His body was discovered in the shop just after 6.30pm when an off-duty police officer, who was nearby, broke into the shop after he was alerted by John's friends that they were unable to get in touch with him.

There have not been any charges in relation to the investigation.

Police Investigation

Thames Valley Police’s Cold Case manager Peter Beirne said:

"Exactly 25 years ago today, John Sheppard was brutally murdered at his place of work.

"He received more than 40 wounds which were inflicted by an offender or offenders who have not been traced yet.

"Someone has information that can help our investigation and I would urge them to come forward. John's family have waited a quarter of a century for answers about their love-one's murder. It is time for the truth to be revealed and it's time for justice for John." 

Inside John Horwood bookmakers
Inside the John Horwood Bookmakers on Cambridge Street.

Thames Valley Police’s Cold Case manager Beirne, who worked on the initial investigation at the time when he was a Detective Sergeant at High Wycombe CID, added:

"Our investigation is progressing, we have a DNA profile.

"This new evidence could be used to either implicate or eliminate people. Over the years, hundreds of people have been eliminated as they are not the source of this DNA.

"Two rewards, totalling £20,000 have been offered by Thames Valley Police and Crimestoppers charity, on conviction of an offender. Therefore, I would ask anyone with any information about this case to contact police or Crimestoppers as soon as possible.

"You can contact the force by visiting a police station, calling 101, or by going to our website at https://www.thamesvalley.police.uk/tua/tell-us-about/cor/tell-us-about-existing-case-report/ quoting reference number URN 2 of 3/12/2019

"Alternatively, you can contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111, or visit www.crimestoppers-uk.org "

"Thames Valley Police do not forget about any unsolved cases, and we will do all that we can to try and bring those responsible before the courts."

John and Mary Sheppard
John and Mary Sheppard

South East Regional Manager at the charity Crimestoppers, Annabelle Goodenough, said:

"This was a horrific attack that should never have happened and we would like to ensure that the family and community receive the justice they have been patiently waiting for. 

"We hope that anyone with information 25 years after John's death can now bring some peace to his family. Loyalties can change and it may be that you know who killed Mr Sheppard, but have until now stayed silent. 

"Please let me reassure you that anybody who contacts our charity will stay 100% anonymous. We have kept this guarantee for more than 30 years.

 "Remember that your crime information, however small you think it may be, could be vital in making a difference. Our UK Contact Centre is open 24/7 on 0800 555 111 or you can use our anonymous online form at www.crimestoppers-uk.org No one will ever know you contacted us."

Mary Sheppard with her grandchildren in Australia where she now lives
Mary Sheppard with her grandchildren in Australia where she now lives

John's daughter, Emma Meir, who was 24 at the time her father was murdered, said:  

"Somebody needs to be brought to justice for what they have done.

"I can't believe that this person will be sleeping well at night, knowing what they have done. 

"We still have the question 'why'? We need clarity around that and we need closure.

"Someone will know the murderer. Somebody needs to have the courage to come forward to be able to put the perpetrator to justice for what they did to my father. I would be grateful if someone could take ownership."

Emma now lives in Cairns, Australia with her husband and their son Akira and daughter Mala. Her mother, Mary, also lives in Cairns.

"My dad was amazing. He was known as gentle John in the community. He was an amazing dad and an amazing husband," Emma added.

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