Smog blanketed Knotty Ash on Merseyside when a man knocked on the door of the Duttons home in Thingwall Lane. Mrs. Maureen Dutton opened the door, the man went in, and then knifed her 14 times in her living-room in front of her three-week-old baby and two-year-old boy.
Maureens son had to endure probably six hours on his own with his dead mother until his father, an ICI research chemist, came home from work and discovered the murder.
Maureen Dutton wasnt robbed, nor was she sexually assaulted, so what was the motive? Police thought the killer gained entry on some plausible pretext before he put a knife to her throat, forcing her to retreat backwards along the hall.
A strong lead surfaced when a young woman living at Halewood, Liverpool, reported an incident. The day before the murder she was visited by a young man who claimed to be a doctor. Like Mrs. Dutton, she had recently given birth, and she assumed that the caller had been sent to see her as part of her post-natal care.
When her husband came home, however, she told him that the man had indecently assaulted her, and inquiries established that he was not a doctor. He was described as between 27 and 30, dark-skinned with a wide nose and curly hair. He had worn horn-rimmed glasses and a dark grey overcoat.
Was this Maureen Duttons killer? Did she resist the doctors advances, did he lose his temper and attack her out of frustration? Certainly a man of similar description was seen by a neighbour of the Duttons on the afternoon of the murder, being violently sick outside the Methodist church, half a mile from the crime scene.
Mrs. Dutton was murdered on Thursday, December 21st, 1961, which means that her killer, if he is still alive, would now be in his seventies.