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Emma Winnell: Unsolved Murder (2012)

Updated: Mar 24, 2021

Between April 30th and May 1, 2012, 92-year old Emma Winnell was beaten violently in her own bed.

On the evening of Aptril 30th, Emma had been put to bed by a carer, who then left and locked the door. The following morning at 8:30am the carer heard Mrs Winnall screaming and found her covered in blood in bed.

Emma Winnall had suffered a fractured skull, a broken arm and a partially severed finger. On the 29th May she sadly died of complications relating to her injuries.

Dec Insp Spanner said that anybody who entered the property that night must have used a key. Detectives have also found no clear motive for the attack and her home was largely undisturbed with nothing appearing to have been taken.


The Investigation

Forensic investigators found blood spattered on the wall around her bed, but no secondary blood transfers were found anywhere else in her home.

Two people - a woman, then aged 56, and a man, then aged 28 - were arrested on suspicion of assault shortly after the break-in, but were later released without charge.

At an inquest Dec Insp Spanner said “The police investigation has not identified any witnesses to an assault and there is no CCTV evidence that identified any persons responsible (...) Forensics has not identified a suspect. There are currently no suspects in the case.”



There are currently no major theories on this case, however looking at the information available there could be a number of scenarios to investigate and questions to ask.

"The Attacker must have used a key" - Who would have access to keys to Emma's house?

  • Family members may have had keys

  • The Carer did have keys

  • Did the care provider have spare keys employees could have accessed?

  • Could someone living with the carer have gotten access to the keys?

  • Did she have any other service providers? e.g. Meals on Wheels

  • Could a neighbour have had a key?

  • Could a maintenance person have a key?

The injuries - What does this tell us?

Emma suffered from a fractured skull, a broken arm and a partially severed finger. This tells us that she raised her arms to defend herself. What it doesn't tell us, and what's not been released, is what kind of weapon was used to beat her.

With her finger being partially severed, we could infer it may have been a weapon with a sharp edge. However, with Emma's frailty it's not impossible that her finger could be partially severed by a hard blow from a blunt object. What we also don't know is whether the weapon used to beat her was found at the scene, or whether searches were done in the area to locate the weapon.

Emma told police officers that she had been screaming after the attack and no-one came. So did the attacker realise that Emma wasn't dead when they left? Or had she fallen unconcscious, appearing dead? The reason this is important is because it speaks to motive.


We know that Emma had a carer who had put her to bed that night. This indicates that Emma was frail and likely would not have gotten out of bed until the morning. So when the attacker attacked her in her bed, did they know she couldn't get out (they were familiar with her) or did they attack her to subdue her (unfamiliar with her)?

Could it be that the attacker had entered the house with the intent to steal - but woke her up, and not realising that she couldn't get out of bed and call the police, beat her? Did they know she was still alive when they left? Without knowing Emma's full testimony we may never know, but because Emma was left alive, it seems unlikely the attacker had arrived with the intention of killing her.

Could it also be possible that someone who had access to her keys (see above) went to rob her but was spotted? Perhaps they panicked and beat her - thinking that she might recognise them / know someone close to them, then left without stealing anything.

Sadly we may never know.


Anyone with any information is asked to contact West Midlands Police on 101 or ring Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555 111.


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