OVER the last week the Wigan Evening Post has been running a series of articles re-visiting unsolved murders of recent decades.
The decision to do so isn’t taken lightly. After all, one issue to consider is that it might raise bereaved families’ hopes unduly.
After all the chances of inquiring with police just at the time that they had a new lead was remote indeed, especially as the list of unsolved Wigan murders is, mercifully, a short one.
But all the relatives to whom we spoke in the preparation of the series were pleased that we were retaining an interest in the unresolved loss of their loved ones, sometimes decades later.
And, as the cold case team chief Martin Bottomley said: it might be this latest re-presentation of the facts, coupled with heartfelt appeals from families still unable to find closure, which might finally trigger someone with that crucial, clinching piece of information, to come forward.
All it might take is the supplying of a name unfamiliar to the investigation and there could finally be a match made with a piece of forensic evidence for instance.
And in terms of cold case reviews, between 10 and 15 years can be a more likely period of time after during which someone who was previously protecting the killer to come forward through fallings-out, changes of heart or release from prison.
We know that it is the law of averages that there cannot always be enough evidence to nail a murderer, no matter how meticuluous the investigation. Sometimes the killer will have eliminated or avoided leaving clues through pre-planning; on other occasions he or she may have just got lucky.
So it is sadly likely that some of the families of victims featured in our series will not get the peace and justice that they crave.
I cannot sympathise with them enough and hope that they can (if they haven’t already) come to terms with this.
But the police are not giving up; investigative science is still evolving and there are doubtless witnesses still out there.
It is not completely futile for the families of William Brennan, Lisa Hession, Maria Requena, Linda Donaldson, Ethel Riley and Billy Webb to continue holding out hope for justice.
Again we ask that anyone with details on or suspicions about any of these cases to ring police on 101 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.