Sickening murder unsolved after two decades

It was a brutal attack on a vulnerable pensioner, which horrified the community and sickened detectives tasked with tracing those responsible.

Isabelle Gray, who was found dead on January 29, 1997

But 20 years on, the killers of Leeds pensioner Isabelle Gray are yet to be brought to justice.

Reliant on a stairlift and mobility scooter, 82-year-old Miss Gray lived alone in a Victorian terrace house opposite Manston Park in Cross Gates.

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And it was in the kitchen of her home in Austhorpe Road that she was found dead on January 29, 1997.

A ‘meals on wheels’ worker had arrived at around noon and found the front door to the house closed but unlocked.

She was immediately suspicious and found her fears for the worst confirmed when she discovered Miss Gray’s body inside.

Injuries revealed during the post mortem examination pointed to a violent attack and a murder investigation began.

Detective Chief Inspector Jim Dunkerley, of West Yorkshire Police Homicide and Major Enquiry Team, said: “The murder of Isabelle Gray was a horrendous crime that shocked the community at the time and is still seen as a particularly sickening offence even after all these years.

“Isabelle was a frail and vulnerable pensioner who was subjected to a brutal and prolonged attack by criminals whose only concern was to find out where her money was.

“Once they had that information, they took what they came for and left her to die. The appalling callousness of those individuals speaks for itself.”

As the investigation progressed, police became convinced that Miss Gray had been the victim of travelling criminals.

Receipts were found at the house which suggested she had previously been targeted by cowboy builders.

It is thought that information about how she paid in cash and was vulnerable had reached those responsible for her murder.

An inquest in May 1998 concluded that Miss Gray had been unlawfully killed, almost certainly by bogus tradesmen calling at her door. It heard how the intruders had placed her on a kitchen chair after the attack and left her there to die.

Det Chief Insp Dunkerley said: “Extensive enquiries were conducted at the time and over the years that followed, with a specific focus on distraction burglars and rogue traders, but the people responsible for Isabelle’s murder were not caught.

“Although 20 years has passed, the case remains under review and we would welcome any new information that could assist in identifying those responsible.”