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Martlesham: How the reclusive Doris Shelley was found cowering in corner by her concerned neighbour

14:04 11 February 2013

Doris Shelley's bunglalow

Doris Shelley's bunglalow


DORIS Shelley was a reclusive woman and devoted animal lover who cared for cats on her meagre pension.

Her neighbour Harold Scopes broke into the widow’s Martlesham home on February 11, 1993, after becoming concerned for her well-being. Mr Scopes found the pensioner cowering on her haunches leaning against her gas stove.

Blood matted her hair making the old lady barely recognisable. The diminutive vegetarian had been hit with a blunt object, leaving her semi-conscious in a pool of blood.

Mrs Shelley died from her injuries ten days later in Addenbrooke’s Hospital.

In 2002 Mr Scopes who was aged 95 at the time, said: “When I saw her I tried to comfort her. But seeing me, a man, just seemed to make it worse and she started shaking. She was in an absolutely terrible state.”

Simply known as ‘Shelley’, the 82-year-old had seemed to prefer the company of animals to people after being widowed in her 20s.

She had few relatives. Mrs Shelley became a virtual recluse after the death of her husband.

Mr Scopes said: “She wasn’t an easy woman to get to know. In fact she was a most peculiar woman.

“She was quite suspicious when you spoke to her, and you rarely got a word out of her.

“The inside of her property was quite unkempt and you really wouldn’t have chosen it if you were going to break in.”

Mr Scopes became concerned when a woman who delivered shopping to Mrs Shelley couldn’t get a reply.

“I broke in through the lounge window although I later discovered a side door was unlocked, which I imagine was how her killer got in because there was no sign of a break-in.

“Shelley was on her haunches in the kitchen covered in blood. Her face was black and blue. She was scared stiff when she saw me. I had a job to get near her to do anything.”

In May 1993, the murder featured on BBC’s Crimewatch, prompting 50 calls and the construction of two photofits of men seen loitering around Mrs Shelley’s home in the days leading up to the attack.

One was aged 25-30, stocky, 6ft tall and with collar length wavy brown hair going into dreadlocks. He was seen on February 8, 9 and 10.

A second man aged 40, 5ft 10in tall, slim with dark brown hair and a fair complexion, carrying a Halfords bag, was seen standing by Martlesham underpass near the A1214 roundabout.

Doris Shelley’s bungalow was eventually torn down and the land sold. The money was used to set up an animal sanctuary in Ukraine in her memory.

A plaque was put up there. It read: “In memory of Doris Shelley who devoted her life to the care of animals”.

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