Mystery still surrounds brutal murder of mum in front of sons over 50 years ago

Police had no clue where to start when Maureen Dutton was found murdered in her own home in December 1961.

She was a woman with a normal family – two children and a loving husband – living in a nice home, in a quiet part of Liverpool.

Yet the 27-year-old was brutally stabbed 14 times in her own front room, in front of her two infant sons.

The cold case gripped the nation, and to this day there have been a number of theories and motives looked into by police.

One of those includes that her murder was possibly a cult killing, the act of a bogus doctor, or carried out by a man seen in the area, in a leather jacket, reports Liverpool Echo.

Cops also investigated a strange young woman, who was heard muttering on a bus that "she had done something terrible" the day of the murder.

However it has now been nearly 60 years since the mum’s mysterious killing – and still to this day her murder remains unsolved.

Maureen Dutton lived with her husband Brian, a research chemist for ICI in Widnes, at their home on Thingwall Lane, in Knotty Ash.

The couple had two sons, two-year-old David and a 22-day-old son called Andrew.

On the day of her death Maureen had hoped to take toddler David to see the Christmas crib at Childwall Parish Church.

However a freezing fog had lingered over the city for days, virtually trapping people indoors.

The last conversation she is known to have had was with her mother-in-law Elsie, who phoned shortly after 1pm to say she could not come and babysit her youngest grandson because of the fog.

She was not known to have had any other communications that day with anyone.

Later that day, at around 6.10pm, Brian Dutton returned home from work, puzzled to see their house in darkness.

When he stepped inside the house he began to grow worried when he first saw the family’s half eaten lunch in the kitchen.

However it was when he pushed open the door to the family’s living room that he made the most grisly of discoveries.

In the middle of the room lay the body of his wife Maureen.

She had suffered multiple stab wounds, to her chest, throat and back, believed to have been inflicted in front of her little David.

When Brian entered the room he saw his son sitting staring at the body of his mum, meanwhile his newborn son lay in a basket just yards away.

A murder hunt was launched and operated and was led by Chief Superintendent James Morris of Liverpool CID.

When police were called to the murder scene detectives extensively searched the house in the lookout for a murder weapon.

Search specialists within the police force scoured the bushes, streams and drains of the city, in an attempt to find a discarded murder weapon, which is thought to have been a long bladed knife.

Door to door enquiries were also carried out, with neighbours and anyone in the vicinity questioned.

But police found no weapon nor anyone who had seen anyone coming in or out of the home that day.

Maureen had not been robbed or sexually assaulted and neither of her sons had been harmed in any way.

No sounds of a fight or screams were heard by anyone in the area and there wasn’t any sign of forced entry or a struggle.

So who killed Maureen Dutton and what was their motive?

Police thought Maureen’s killer may have gained entry to her home on some plausible pretext before putting a knife to her throat, forcing her to retreat backwards along the hall.

When the news of Maureen’s horrific murder hit the headlines a strong lead surfaced when a young woman living in Halewood reported an incident.

The day before the murder she was visited by a young man who claimed to be a doctor.

Like Maureen Dutton she had recently given birth and she assumed that the doctor had been sent to examine her as part of her post-natal care.

However when the woman’s husband made enquiries about the mystery man, he was told there was no doctor operating in the area.

And the couple contacted police to report a sexual assault.

The man was described as between 27 and 30, wearing worn horn-rimmed glasses and a dark grey overcoat.

Due to there being no signs of a struggle or forced entry, police’s theory was that Maureen had welcomed the doctor into her home.

But after he became inappropriate, he lost his temper and attacked her.

The focus of the investigation swung towards tracking the fraudster but, in the background, one constant kept cropping up.

Neighbours began to talk of a good-looking young stranger in a leather jacket seen nearby.

The “good-looking youth" wearing a black leather jacket was apparently seen several times in the vicinity of Thingwall Lane on the day of the murder.

According to witnesses he was spotted running very fast down the road that afternoon and not long after was spotted being violently sick near the steps of Court Hey Methodist Church.

Whilst vomiting, the man kept his hands firmly wedged within his pockets as he was doing so an act that a witness thought peculiar and remembered vividly.

By January 17, police had amassed 20,000 statements and with the witnesses help had put together an identikit of what they believed the man could look like.

It was carried on the Liverpool Echo’s front page and more than 60 people responded within the first 24 hours of its publication.

But each name suggested was eventually eliminated and the ‘good-looking man in a leather jacket’ was never found.

The sighting of a young blonde woman, who was acting suspiciously on a bus she boarded close to the murder scene, was also investigated by police.

She was seen boarding a number 10d bus, having an Irish accent and was heard muttering incoherently about how she needed to get out of the city immediately.

Witnesses on the bus recalled how the young woman was babbling about how she had "done something terrible" and how she was going to London to catch a plane.

When the woman exited the bus at Liverpool Lime Street, she kept repeating “Oh my god” over and over.

However after the peculiar sighting she was never traced again and never came forward, despite appeals for her to do so in the press.

One of the most bizarre theories detectives considered was that Maureen Dutton had been murdered in a sacrificial killing.

Police looked into the possibility that the mum-of-two was killed by a Polynesian cult as a sacrifice to their God Tiki.

It was believed that the cult had some followers in the Liverpool area and it was discovered that its members believed in making sacrifices to Tiki during the winter solstice – the time period in which Maureen was murdered.

The sacrificial theory was in the end ruled out as a motive for Maureen’s murder but it did lead police to a possible suspect.

A 24-year-old male nurse living in Upper Parliament Street was arrested and charged with theft of drugs and equipment from three Liverpool hospitals in 1962.

He was also said to have masqueraded as a doctor and had a reversed swastika tattoo on his arm – the identification mark of a Tiki-worshipper.

Police thought it was the break through they had been waiting for – but soon after he was eliminated from inquiries too and detectives were back to square one.

Despite following up a number of leads and issuing various re-appeals for information Maureen Dutton’s killer is still at large.

It is likely, given the crime was 57 years ago, her killer has taken the brutality of what he did and the reason behind it, to the grave.

If the killer is still alive, he or she would likely be in their seventies or eighties now.

David, Maureen’s eldest son who was only two-years-old when his mother was killed, would be nearly 60 now and his baby brother Andrew would be in his late 50s.

Very little information on the boys as adults or their grieving dad Brian, has been published, since the murder.

However all three have been forced to live their lives without justice for their loving mother and wife.

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