MURDER APPEAL

Do you have vital information?


Lyn Byrant

The murder of 40-year-old Linda ‘Lyn’ Bryant

Ruan High Lanes, The Roseland, Cornwall

Tuesday 20 October 1998

Can you help?

Call the Major Incident Room: 01208 892486

Or report here: https://mipp.police.uk/


crimestoppers

Independent charity Crimestoppers has offered a £10,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the offender.

Information can be passed anonymously by phone (0800 555 111) or via the online reporting form.

The appeal


Police launch 20th anniversary appeal

Detectives investigating the murder of Cornish mum-of-two Linda Bryant have launched a fresh public appeal for information on the 20th anniversary of her death.

Linda ‘Lyn’ Bryant, 40, was killed on Tuesday 20 October 1998 as she walked the family dog near her home in Ruan High Lanes on The Roseland.

Her body was found in a gateway of a field on an unclassified road between Ruan High Lanes Methodist Chapel and Treviles Manor. She had sustained a number of knife wounds in a prolonged attack.

Devon and Cornwall Police has launched a major public appeal for information on the 20th anniversary of her death as part of the ongoing investigation into her murder.

Recent advances in DNA have enabled police to produce a new partial DNA profile believed to be the killer’s.

Since October 2016 officers have been retaking DNA samples from some of the 6,000 individuals who originally gave their DNA to the enquiry, plus possible matches from the National DNA Database.

Detectives say a name suggested by the public could now be the vital piece of the puzzle needed to catch and bring Lyn’s killer to justice.

Police are calling on people to come forward with critical information that they may have withheld at the time, either due to divided loyalty, half suspicions or simply not thought relevant at the time.

A £10,000 reward has been offered by independent charity Crimestoppers for information which leads to the arrest and conviction of Lyn’s killer.

Senior Investigating Officer Stuart Ellis, a retired detective inspector from the Force’s Major Crime Team in Bodmin, said: “We are asking people to cast their minds back to 1998 as I am convinced that the public hold vital pieces of information to help us solve this case.

“We are urging for anyone who has information, however small, not to hesitate and to contact us. We have the forensic evidence – all we need now is names of individuals so that we can match or eliminate them against the DNA profile.”

The death of the mum-of-two in her home village is one of the largest and longest running unsolved murder enquiries carried out by Devon and Cornwall Police. Despite several high-profile media and public appeals her killer is yet to be found.

In 1998 police pieced together Lyn’s final movements and witnesses reported critical sightings of three unknown men in the vicinity at the time.

A man speaking with Lyn at the chapel, a bearded man with a white car-derived van, and a man walking in a nearby field. The vehicle has never been traced and all three men have not come forward or been identified, which is unusual given the high profile of the case.

White van sighting

On the morning of her death Mrs Bryant went to work as a cleaner at a local house as usual. Afterwards she briefly visited her parents who lived nearby before returning home.

Around 12.45pm, Lyn drove her grey Ford Sierra to Harris Garage at Tregony [now Roseland Garage] but found they were out of fuel.

She drove onto Chenoweth garage at Ruan High Lanes and bought fuel, milk and a few groceries.

While there a scruffy white car-derived van driven by an unknown bearded man was seen entering the forecourt. A similar vehicle had been seen in the area in previous days but neither the man nor the vehicle was known to locals.

A total of 6,753 white car-derived vans have been traced and eliminated over the course of the investigation but the identity of the man has never been revealed.

Mr Ellis said: “The reason why we are so interested in this van is because a van of that description had previously been seen around the area of the chapel. The man was described as having a full scruffy beard. Why has he never come forward or been found? If anyone has any information now about that van and driver then we would still very much like to hear about it.”

The man at the chapel

Lyn returned home after the garage and had lunch with her 19-year-old daughter Erin who was still living at home. They had a chat about Lyn’s upcoming 41st birthday and watched Emmerdale, broadcast between 1pm and 1.30pm at that time.

Just after 1.30pm Lyn set out on her regular walk with Jay, the family’s tan and cream-coloured pet lurcher. She took her usual and often-walked circular route beginning at Ruan Lane directly opposite her home.

Due to wet weather she was wearing a brown Barbour-style wax jacket, a blue jumper, jeans and walking boots; she walked the dog habitually every afternoon, whatever the weather.

Several people who knew Lyn saw her walking with Jay along the quiet lane towards Ruan High Lanes Methodist Chapel, now converted to a private home.

A motorist passed by between 1.45pm and 2pm and spotted Lyn talking to a clean-shaven man at the junction by the chapel. This is the last known sighting of Lyn alive.

Mr Ellis added: “A witness driving along that quiet lane towards the chapel junction saw a woman believed to be Lyn in conversation with a man. The man was in his 30s but had no other distinguishing features – that was probably the last time that Lyn was seen alive by anybody. Despite repeated appeals and high-profile media coverage of this case this man has never come forward, and this is highly unusual. Who was this man? Can anyone tell us?”

Lyn’s body found

A short time later at 2.30pm Lyn’s body was located in the gateway to a field on an unclassified lane which runs opposite the chapel and down to Treviles Manor.

The horrific discovery was made by a woman driving up the lane from her holiday stay at the manor. She immediately reversed her car back down the lane to the manor to raise help. The woman returned with a local farmer who immediately recognised the body as that of Linda Bryant.

Lyn had sustained knife wounds to her neck and back and a fatal stab wound to her chest. It is clear from the evidence that she had fought for her life in a prolonged attack. Her clothes had been disturbed.

Police and ambulance were called at 2.34pm and the air ambulance arrived at 2.50pm but Lyn died at the scene.

Stu Ellis added: “There had been no attempt to conceal her body, she was left lying in the gateway. What the witnesses saw when they found Lyn’s body must have been horrific. It was a scene I am sure that has stayed with them for the rest of their lives.

“Lyn was stabbed several times by her attacker. She had knife wounds to her back and neck, and she was stabbed fatally in the chest. We know that she must have fought against her attacker; she had injuries to her face and her clothing was disturbed. When you consider the injuries and the way she was found I think it is a fair conclusion to assume this was a sexually motivated murder.

“The weapon used was a single-edged blade around 10 to 14cms long. It was probably a penknife or a small kitchen knife. This weapon has never been found despite the scene being intensively searched. Does anyone remember someone who carried such a knife and was acting suspiciously at the time of the murder? If so, pick up the phone and call us.”

The man in the field

The next critical sighting was made by another local farmer between 2.45pm and 3pm.

Mr Ellis added: “Another local farmer saw a man walking across the field near to the scene a short time after the murder. This was a very unusual occurrence – this field does not have a footpath and in the farmer’s experience was not used by any walkers. “He was wearing normal clothes and shoes which again is very odd. Was that man connected to Lyn’s murder and why was he walking across the field? The man at the chapel and in the field have never been identified. Were they the same person?

Blue fibres

A critical piece of evidence at the scene was the presence of vivid blue polyester cotton mix fibres found on Lyn’s body.

“An intensive forensic examination of the scene carried on for months and a number of blue fibres were found on Lyn’s body,” said Mr Ellis. “The fibres are a polyester cotton mix and vivid blue. We have never been able to match them to a specific garment but we know they are fairly commonly used in polo shirts and sweatshirts. They are alien to Lyn and anything in her home so it is a fair conclusion that those fibres were left by Lyn’s attacker.

“Lyn must have spent some time in contact with her attacker, there must have been a struggle and the attacker must have had blood on his clothing. The gateway was muddy at the time and Lyn’s clothing was mud-splattered. It is very likely that the person responsible would have been in the same condition.

“So anyone who was in that unusual and isolated area and returned home in any kind of different state with mud or blood on their clothes, with anxiety or not really wanting to speak about what had happened to them – that would be the kind of person we would be interested in finding.”

DNA breakthrough

Operation Grenadine is one of the largest and longest investigations conducted by Devon and Cornwall Police. Since 1998 there have been several investigative and forensic reviews to keep pace with scientific advances.

In 2015 detectives went back to basics for a full forensic review of the case, examining hundreds of key exhibits from the case with forensic scientists.

This bought about a critical breakthrough thanks to the progression of scientific techniques – a new partial DNA profile believed to belong to Lyn’s killer.

Since October 2016 officers have been retaking DNA samples from people in the local area and across the UK. Some individuals were potential matches from the National DNA Database, which was in its infancy in 1998. Others are being drawn from the 6,000 individuals who gave DNA to the original enquiry.

All of these people are systematically being reviewed and new DNA samples are being taken from some to eliminate them from the enquiry or match them to the partial profile. Some 130-140 people have been tested so far with the vast majority of people being positive and co-operative. This process will continue for at least a few months.

Mr Ellis added: “We always review cases to see if there is any new science that can help us move the case forward. This is exactly what we have done with the murder of Lyn Bryant and we began to find common elements of DNA.

“The discovery of this partial DNA profile is an extremely significant step in what very much remains a live investigation. The work that we have undertaken now gives us the opportunity to look at that partial DNA profile which we believe was left by Lyn’s attacker and we can use that to try and identify him.

“All we need now from the public is a name. It could be someone who you have spoken to us about before or maybe someone who has never come into the enquiry. Twenty years is a long time and allegiances change; something may have been lingering in your mind for a number of years. Now is the time to come forward because if we do get a name we can actually do something with it.”

The glasses

Since the murder officers had searched for Lyn’s missing tortoiseshell glasses which she was wearing at the time of her death.

Four months after the murder, on 2 February 1999, the glasses reappeared in the gateway where she was killed. They were found sitting on top of the mud.

Police do not know how they came to be there – was it a trophy replaced by the killer or had they been found by a member of the public?

“The crime scene was subject to a fingertip search and it was very unlikely that they were missed in that search,” said Mr Ellis. “Why were those glasses back in that gateway some months later? They could only have been there for a short period of time because they were on top of the mud. How did they get there? Were they found by somebody and returned to the scene or were they put there by the murderer?”

Local connection

The investigation team is convinced that the offender has a local connection due to the location of the murder.

Mr Ellis added: “The scene of the murder is significant in this case. It is a particularly remote part of Cornwall – it was then and still is today. There is only one main road that goes down from Tregony and into St Mawes, the A3078. The route that Lyn took for her last walk was off that main road and into a really quiet area of the countryside. It is not an area that you would expect someone to stumble upon. It is more likely that someone had a reason to be there, whether through work, family or another connection. You would not expect someone to wander into that area unexpectedly. This leads us to believe that the person responsible for Lyn’s murder knew the area or had some local connection to it.”

A community in shock

The murder had an enormous impact on the close-knit community of Ruan High Lanes and prompted a huge murder enquiry named Operation Grenadine which has continued for 20 years.

The span of the enquiry has been vast with 1,600 people traced to establish their whereabouts at the time, 7,884 statements taken, 3,144 house-to-house forms completed with local people and 6,573 vehicles traced and eliminated.

All males aged 14-70 and living within a one-mile radius of the murder were traced and their movements on and around 20 October 1998 investigated. Officers traced and spoke to all males who had passed within a one-mile radius of the scene between 9am and 4pm on the day of the murder

There have been three suspects who have all been eliminated from the investigation.

More than 300 mourners attended Lyn’s funeral at Penmount Crematorium, Truro, in December 1998 and her death shook the small village community as well as wider Cornwall.

Mr Ellis added: “Lyn was a popular woman who knew so many people in the village where she had lived all of her life. She was a real homemaker and enjoyed family life. She would have felt very safe in that area and habitually walked for miles each day with her dog around the quiet lanes.

“For her to be taken away from her husband, daughters and 10-month-old first grandchild in such a brutal and horrific way is very sad indeed.”

Can you help?

Police are urging for anyone who has any piece of information, however small, not to hesitate and to contact them.

“I am convinced that the public holds the key to this investigation,” said Mr Ellis. “I don’t know why they haven’t come forward yet but I would urge anyone who had suspicions about any relative, friend or colleague who was acting suspiciously around the time of the murder to contact us. Did they come home with muddied clothing or behaving out-of-character?

“This was the murder of an innocent housewife, mum and grandmother, who didn’t deserve to die in such horrendous circumstances. Twenty years have gone by but this has not lessened the pain and rawness of what happened to her that day. Her family has suffered for 20 years, living their lives knowing that the offender remains free.

“If you have any information or suspicions about any person, please come forward and help us bring some peace to Lyn’s family. Now is the time.”

Information can also be passed to Crimestoppers on 0800 555111 or via their non–traceable online form at www.crimestoppers-uk.org

Anyone who contacts Crimestoppers remains 100% anonymous. Only information passed through the charity will be eligible for the reward.

Follow us on Facebook at @DevonandCornwallPolice and Twitter at @DC_Police under hashtag #lynbryantmurder

 

Linda Byrant and daughter

 

“She was a lovely lady - very popular, friendly and very sociable. She had time for everybody. She was really family-orientated; her children and her husband were the most important things to her, and she was really looking forward to having more grandchildren.”

Lee Taylor - Lyn’s daughter

Can you help?


Timeline: Tuesday 20 October 1998

TimeWhat she did
Can you help? Please complete the form and tell us what you know or to pass information anonymously by phone (0800 555 111) or via the online reporting form.
AM

It is a normal working morning for Linda Bryant in the quiet village of Ruan High Lanes, the place she has lived her whole life.

She goes out to do some cleaning work at a local house. She makes a brief visit to her parents who live nearby and then returns home.

12.45pm

Lyn drives her grey Ford Sierra to Harris Garage at Tregony [now Roseland Garage] but finds they are out of fuel.

1.05pm

She drives onto Chenoweth garage at Ruan High Lanes where she buys fuel, milk and some groceries.

A scruffy white car-derived van driven by an unknown bearded man enters the forecourt at the same time as Linda’s car. This car has been seen in the area in previous days.

She returns home and sees her daughter Erin, 19, who is back from work. They have lunch and watch Emmerdale [broadcast between 1pm and 1.30pm].

1.30pm

Shortly after 1.30pm Lyn sets out on her regular walk with Jay, the family’s brown and cream-coloured pet lurcher dog. She takes her usual and often-walked circular route, beginning at the lane opposite her home.

A number of witnesses, including people who know Lyn, drive by and see her walking along the main lane towards Ruan High Lanes Methodist Chapel.

1.45-2pm A motorist sees a woman who must be Lyn, standing with Jay, talking to a clean-shaven man at the junction by the chapel. This is the last known sighting of Lyn.
TimeWhat she did
Can you help? Please complete the form and tell us what you know or to pass information anonymously by phone (0800 555 111) or via the online reporting form.
2.30pm Lyn’s body is located lying in the gateway to a field on an unclassified road between nearby Ruan High Lanes Chapel and Treviles Manor. She is found by a woman who drives up the lane from her holiday accommodation at Treviles Manor.

She seeks help from a local farmer who recognises the body as that of Lyn Bryant.
2.34pm A 999 call is made and police and ambulance are quickly dispatched
2.50pm The air ambulance arrives. Lyn is pronounced deceased at the scene
2.45-3pm A farmer sees an unknown man walking in a nearby field which is very unusual. He is dressed in normal clothing and heading away from the murder scene.
2 Feb 1999 Lyn’s missing tortoiseshell glasses are found on top of the mud in the gateway where her body was found four months before. They have only been there for a short time and there is no explanation as to how they came to be there

 

Lyn Bryant aerial crime scene

 

The investigation: 20 years


Operation Grenadine

DateWhat happened
Can you help? Please complete the form and tell us what you know or to pass information anonymously by phone (0800 555 111) or via the online reporting form.
20 OCTOBER 1998 Operation Grenadine is launched after the body of 40-year-old mum-of-two Linda ‘Lyn’ Bryant is found. She had been stabbed in a prolonged attack and her clothes had been disturbed. House-to-house enquiries begin along with an extensive search of the scene.
21 OCTOBER 1998

A police press conference is held at incident headquarters in St Austell. Detective Superintendent Chris Boarland, who is heading the investigation, makes a public plea for information.

27 OCTOBER 1998 A police reconstruction takes place in Ruan High Lanes, re-enacting Lyn’s last movements in an attempt to jog the public’s memory.
29 OCTOBER 1998 A man with a white van similar to the one seen at Chenoweth garage before the murder is arrested in Cornwall. He is later released and eliminated from the investigation.
30 OCTOBER 1998 Lyn’s daughters Lee, 21, and Erin, 19, issue a family statement and attend a press conference to ask for the public’s help.
2 NOVEMBER 1998 Police say they are still looking for Lyn’s tortoiseshell glasses which she was believed to have been wearing at the time of her death. Detectives reveal that three men have been arrested to date and all eliminated.
12 DECEMBER 1998

The funeral of Lyn Bryant is held at Penmount Crematorium in Truro. More than 300 people attend.

JANUARY/FEBRUARY 1999  Police send out letters to hundreds of Maestro van owners to trace the driver of the white car-derived van seen on the garage forecourt. Hundreds of van drivers and stopped and questioned in Devon and Cornwall. 
2 FEBRUARY 1999 Lyn’s missing glasses mysteriously reappear placed on top of the mud in the gateway where she was killed. They are found by the same farmer who found Lyn. The scene was intensively searched at the time of the murder and the gateway regularly used by the farm. Police say they could have been replaced by the killer or a member of the public who found them.
APRIL 1999

The first full investigative review of the case is conducted by police under the name Operation Hermitic.

DateWhat happened
Can you help? Please complete the form and tell us what you know or to pass information anonymously by phone (0800 555 111) or via the online reporting form.
12 OCTOBER 1999 More than 300 calls come in to the police following a renewed appeal on BBC Crimewatch.

.

4 APRIL 2000

Police reveal that they have interviewed a 33-year-old man after his arrest for two murders in Norfolk. He was later ruled out.

OCTOBER 2000 Lee, Lyn’s daughter, makes a fresh appeal for information from the public.
MARCH 2002 A second full investigative review is undertaken by police under Operation Hermitic II to ensure all intelligence and evidence is captured and examined.
2007 An independent forensic review on the key evidence is conducted and checked against any scientific advances.
OCTOBER 2008 A 10-year anniversary public and media appeal is launched with the help of Lyn’s family.
2015

A further forensic review, codenamed Operation Pentagon, takes place. Police go back to basics and review hundreds of exhibits with forensic scientists

MAY 2016 Detectives have a major breakthrough in the case when a partial DNA profile is developed thanks to the 2015 review - it is believed to belong to the killer.
OCTOBER 2016 A team of detectives begin retaking DNA profiles from the 6,000 people around the UK who originally gave their DNA at the time of the enquiry.
OCTOBER 2018

A 20-year anniversary appeal is launched. Police ask the public to come up with names of suspects to match against the DNA evidence. Police reveal DNA samples have been retaken from 130-140 people both locally and around the UK so far.

Case facts

Operation Grenadine remains one of the largest and longest murder investigations undertaken by Devon and Cornwall Police, costing more than £2 million.

Four senior investigating officers:

  • Detective Superintendent Chris Boarland
  • Detective Chief Inspector Martin Orpe
  • Detective Superintendent Michele Slevin
  • Retired Detective Inspector Stuart Ellis – now leading the investigation.

Chasing the evidence:

  • 32,398 people on the investigation database.
  • 1,600 people traced and investigated to establish their whereabouts and movements at the time of the murder.
  • All males aged 14 to 70 living within a one mile radius of the murder in 1998 traced to investigate their movements on and around 20 October.
  • All males passing within one mile radius of the scene between 9am and 4pm on 20 October 1998 traced, seen and their movements investigated and corroborated.
  • 442 males dealt with in this process.
  • 7,844 statements taken
  • 8,215 exhibits held.
  • 3,144 house-to-house enquiry forms completed with local people.
  • 6,573 vehicles traced and eliminated.
  • Three suspects interviewed and eliminated from enquiries.

 

scene ground level

 

Lyn Byrant newspaper clipping

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