Lady, late 30s, seeks part-time employment in or around Maldon. Own transport. Anything considered. Previous experience banking. Able to type.
This ad appeared in the situations wanted column of the Maldon and Burnham Standard early in 1974. The advertiser, Mrs. Josephine Backshall, was attractive married woman. She lived in a semi-detached in Maldon, Essex, had three children under 12, and was looking for something like a baby-sitting job to earn a bit of spare cash.
She was surprised, therefore, when the first caller, a man who introduced himself as Peter, rang and talked about the possibility of modelling for cosmetics and possibly clothing. This, Josephine decided, might be much more exciting than baby-sitting.
Peter made two appointments with her and mysteriously kept neither of them, for which he apparently later profusely apologised. After that she met him on several occasions. Once he came to her home and took pictures of her in the garden.
Then on Tuesday, October 29th, 1974, he rang again. He had been let down by a woman who was going to do some modelling for him in Cheltenham that night, he said. Could she fill in? There was talk of £100 commission.
Josephine left her house some time after 6 p.m. She never returned. Three days later her fully clothed body was found at Little Hadham, near Bishops Stortford. She was face down in a shallow pond, her hands tightly bound in front of her. She had been strangled but there were no signs of sexual assault. Her watch had stopped at 8.10. There was a possibility she might have been alive when she was thrown out of a car.
Who was Peter? Josephine had described him as being in his early 30s, tall, heavily built, knowledgeable about perfumes and womens toiletries, and a competent photographer.
During the investigation, police found three other women in the area who had been offered modelling opportunities by Peter after putting innocent ads in the paper. They had all rejected him.