Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Jill Dando: The Murder of the BBCs Sunshine Girl

At Death's Door

Jill Dando (BBC)
Jill Dando (BBC)

In Fulham, West London, a woman's piercing screams prompted Mr. Hughes to open his shutters at 11:30 a.m. on Monday, April 26, 1999. He saw a well-dressed man in front of his next door neighbor's Gowan Avenue house. When he peered out his door to get a better look, Mr. Hughes told BBC News that he was shocked at seeing his neighbor "lying on the doorstep unconscious and covered in blood." The well-dressed stranger had disappeared.

Jill Dando later died of a severe head wound on her way to West London's Charing Cross Hospital, shortly after her neighbor had discovered her. A post mortem investigation revealed that the cause of death was a single close-range gunshot wound to the head. Almost a year earlier, Dando had told a colleague of being frightened by threatening phone calls and letters.

Who had shot one of Britain's most popular television personalities outside her front door?

Crime scene (BBC News)
Crime scene (BBC News)

At the time of her brutal slaying Dando's life and career were at their pinnacle. She was newly engaged to gynecologist Alan Farthing, who was dumbfounded by the murder of his 37-year-old fiancée. Dando was at the time also hosting several popular television programs, including BBC Holiday and Crimewatch, a series which explored unsolved criminal investigations and attempted to elicit tips and additional information from the program's viewers. Ironically, Dando's own murder investigation was featured four days before her burial in hopes of obtaining information about her death. On May 21, 1999, Dando's family, wedding guests and fiancé mourned her at Clarence Park Baptist Church. The Reverend Marc Owen asked the question many Britons were asking, "Why?"

Three weeks after her death the police had no motive and no suspect in custody.

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