Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Jill Dando: The Murder of the BBCs Sunshine Girl

Suspect of Many Identities

Police photo of the suspect (BBC News)
Police photo of the
suspect (BBC News)

After one year and many appeals made by police for information into Dando's murder, a 40-year-old suspect was arrested in connection with the crime on May 25, 2000. The suspect, whose name was initially withheld from the public, was held in police custody at the London police station for 84 hours. He eventually appeared at the West London Magistrates Court on May 29, 2000. Police had asked the judge for an extension to hold the suspect in custody three times in order to question him more extensively before he was formally charged for the crime.

Police had begun to focus on the suspect following an interview with him concerning Dando's murder. He was one of more than 2,000 people listed as potential suspects in the investigation. Before his arrest, police set up surveillance cameras outside of the suspect's residence. Investigators claimed that they had discovered new circumstantial evidence taken from his home that linked him to the murder of Dando. Interestingly, police had already obtained several tips from anonymous callers about the suspect just days following the murder. However, the information was overlooked by investigators in the flurry of activity surrounding the case. Following his arrest, the suspect denied ever knowing Dando or having ever caused her physical harm.

Barry George (BBC News)
Barry George
(BBC News)

The world was told that the name of the suspect was Barry Bulsara, several days following the arrest. However, police discovered that Barry Bulsara was not his real name. Neither were the names Steve Majors or Thomas Palmer, which he also frequently used. Eventually the police learned the real identity of their suspect, Barry Michael George. Neighbors and acquaintances told police that Mr. George often assumed false identities and claimed to be employed by the government to work high security positions. Mr. George also claimed to be related to the classic rock group Queen's lead singer Freddy Mercury, whose original surname was Bulsara. However, ABC News reported that Mercury's family denied that Mr. George ever had any affiliation with the singer's family.

Mr. George's home, located a half mile from Dando's residence, was searched by police. Investigators lacked important evidence needed to build a solid case, including a lack of motive, eyewitnesses to the crime and a murder weapon. It was hoped that such evidence could be found at the suspect's apartment. Many items were eventually removed from Mr. George's residence and used as evidence in one of Britain's most publicized trials of the century.

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