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14 January  
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1975: Heiress Lesley Whittle kidnapped
A 17-year-old heiress has been kidnapped from her home in Shropshire.

Lesley Whittle, left �,000 in her father's will, was snatched from her bed at the family home in Highley.

Her mother was asleep in the house at the time.

Police were called in after Lesley's brother, Ronald, received a ransom demand for �,000.

The Whittle family run one of the biggest private coach companies in the country, based at Highley and Kidderminster.

Ronald Whittle followed the kidnapper's instructions to take the money to a telephone box and await further instructions there, but he was late making the rendez-vous and no-one came to meet him.

'Kidnapping only explanation'

Hundreds of police are now scouring the area for clues. They have begun door-to-door inquiries and sniffer dogs are also being used.

Police say they are treating the ransom demand as a possible hoax.

But they are still hopeful of finding Lesley alive.

Lesley's boyfriend says kidnapping is "the only possible explanation" for her disappearance.

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Police searching the local area
Hundreds of police are involved in the hunt


In Context
Lesley Whittle's body was found on 7 March, 1975.

She was hanging from a wire at the bottom of a drain shaft in Bathpool Park, Staffordshire.

In December 1975, two police officers spotted a man seen acting suspiciously in Mansfield.

The man turned out to be Donald Neilson, also known as the Black Panther for his trademark balaclava.

He was armed with a gun and was only arrested with the help of several customers in a nearby fish and chip shop.

His fingerprints were found to match one of those in the drain shaft.

Neilson was finally convicted and given five life sentences in July 1976 for the murder of Lesley Whittle and three post office workers.

Stories From 14 Jan


 
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