Harlesden, in north London, is quiet suburbia, the sort of place beloved by burglars looking for loot at Christmas time. On Tuesday, December 10th, 1968, one or more of them got into the Tatum Road home of James White, 86, a former Admiralty messenger, tied him up and gagged him. Unable to breathe, Mr. White had a heart attack and suffocated.

There were no signs of a break-in, but the killer, or killers, ransacked the house.