Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Britain's Bizarre 'Hair-in-Hand' Murder Case

The Mother's Body

Heather Barnett
Heather Barnett

On Tuesday afternoon, November 12, 2002, a chilly autumn day in the Charminster district of the coastal British city of Bournemouth, some 105 miles southwest of London, two young children came home from school to a house of carnage neither would ever forget. Terry, then 14, and Caitlin, then 11, seemed to know right away that something was wrong entering the ground-floor flat on Capstone Road where they lived with their mother, Heather Barnett, 48. After calling out for her and seeing strange footprints on the front room floor, they soon found their mother — lying dead in the bathroom. There was much blood, and they could see that someone had literally committed an act of savage butchery. Reeling with fright and revulsion at the sight of their mother's body in a pool of blood, the children quickly sought help by summoning the local police.

Members of the police of Dorset County soon arrived, followed shortly by a team of detectives and forensic experts headed by Detective Superintendent Phil James and Detective Superintendent Mark Cooper. Even for seasoned detectives such as these, the crime scene was difficult to take in due to the brutality of the murder. After placing the frightened and distraught children in a safe environment, the detectives and their team of 50 officers worked throughout the afternoon and into the evening in an effort to make some sense out of what had occurred at the flat earlier in the day.


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