Janet Brown: Bound and Brutalized in her own home
A mysterious woman meets a mysterious end.
JANET BROWN: NURSE BEATEN TO DEATH IN OWN HOME.
Recent news reports — as of 10/04/2020
Janet Brown’s death remains a mystery, much like the details of her life.
Few people in the remote village where Janet lived knew her until one spring evening in 1995 when an intruder burst into her quiet farmhouse. Janet’s body was later found bound, naked and gagged. Twenty-five years later and Janet’s murder remains unsolved. DNA evidence has recently emerged; and we know that the assailant is a male. But despite testing against over 700 swabs, nobody has been linked as of yet.
Janet Brown was a modest and quiet woman — with nothing special about her. This is not to demean her life or importance to those that loved her (including her three children and husband) but ultimately this could be true of any of us. In life we may be unremarkable and in death we may be the talk of the town; the sound and fury reserved for after our existence.
It was an April evening of 1995 when Janet was murdered in her own home. The scariest place for violent death to occur is within the territory of your own house — for home offers a warmth and security and the invasion of this warmth is the stuff of existential human nightmares. For a murder to take place in the security of your home is to desecrate the sacred bond of comfort and home.
After all these years the death, motive and perpetrator remains a puzzle to the police. The police have considered the possibility that the secrets in Mrs. Brown’s life could be linked to her death. However Mrs. Brown’s natural personality was that of reservation and anonymity. Many within the quiet village of Radnage had little to say about Mrs. Brown despite an eagerness to help.
Mrs. Brown’s life did not reveal any dark secrets or mysteries. Mrs. Brown did her shopping in the bigger city of Oxford, she suffered migraines like you or I. She loved her job. She was slight but not timid in conversation. One slight transgression was leaving her husband and children behind to take an adventurous holiday in Peru (a long time before she died). Mrs. Brown had visited Kenya, South America and the bog-standard European holidays that most English families enjoy.
The name of the Brown’s home was HALL FARM Radnage, Oxfordshire. For many years it was known as CABBAGE HALL FARM but the Cabbage was dropped many years before the Browns moved in.
So what do we know or rather, what don’t we know about the death of Mrs. Brown:
- At the time of Mrs. Brown’s death the family had lived at HALL FARM for a decade. They had been trying to sell and move on in a year or two (hopefully by 1997).
- The sale of the house was hampered by problems of subsidence. A buyer was found for £340,000 — and the house sale was a week or two away from completion, however problems with the foundation may have hampered this.
- Nick the builder hired by the Browns had called at about 8.20 on the Monday evening 10th April 1995 to discuss issues with the building.
- The phone call was not answered. Nick arrived at about 8 am the following morning 11th April 1995. Nick heard the wailing alarm ringing out from the house.
- It was Nick’s teenage son that saw Mrs. Brown lying naked. She was gagged and handcuffed with a large pool of blood.
- At face value Mrs. Brown was murdered in a burglary gone wrong. However all evidence suggests otherwise.
- Janet Brown’s husband Grahaem was a medical doctor that worked for a pharmaceutical company. At the time of the murder he was confirmed to be working in Switzerland.
- Mr. Brown was an aloof figure not at ease with small talk and not holding the small town personality which would have made him a popular figure. It seems Mr and Mrs. Brown were very much outsiders to the small village life.
- Thames Valley Police confirmed the veracity of Mr. Brown’s alibi (despite nasty gossip to the contrary) and there is no evidence whatsoever to tie the husband to the murder. Mr. Brown had called that evening from Switzerland; much like the builder — to no answers.
- Janet’s three children were Ben, Zara and Roxanne. The two eldest children were either at university or working in London at the time of the murder. Only Roxanne lived at home and she has expressed great guilt and regret for being around a friend’s house studying at the time of the murder.
- At 10pm that evening the alarm was heard ringing from the house. The house had an external and internal alarm system; both were set off. The alarms had been triggered either by Janet Brown or her murderer. The control box revealed that the alarm was triggered by one or two red panic buttons in the house. One panic button was at the side of Mrs. Brown’s bed and the other by the front door.
- Janet’s body was found near the front door, lying face down, at the bottom of the stairs. Janet had been handcuffed behind her back and her mouth had been gagged with a length of packing tape beneath her body.
- CAUSE OF DEATH: TEN BLOWS TO THE HEAD WITH SOME KIND OF UNIDENTIFIED BAR. Evidence suggested that Mrs. Brown had been punched.
- THERE WAS NO EVIDENCE OF SEXUAL ASSAULT.
- The murderer ignored all the small windows at the back of HALL FARM and entered via a high-walled courtyard at the side of the middle door. The killer entered using a glass cutter against a double glazed window which caused a loud shattering to the windows.
- When the police appealed for information a professional burglar called in to state that no burglar who knew what they were doing would never enter the house the way this killer entered Hall Farm.
- It is suggested that Mrs. Brown did not respond to the loud noise of the glass shattering.
- There was specks of blood found around the light switches in the upstairs rooms of the house. And it strongly suggests that the killer tried to wash his hands in the upstairs of the house.
- NOTHING FROM THE HOUSE WAS STOLEN but it was noted that the television and video player were unplugged (suggesting an attempt at removal). This was noticed by the Brown children. However this may be an intentional mislead.
- What was strange to the police was that there was no evidence of a struggle or disarray suggesting that Mrs. Brown did not or could not offer any resistance.
- It did not seem like a random incident. The killer came with a glass cutter, two types of tape, handcuffs and a bar (or blunt object). And presumably a torch to help navigate the evening.
Most burglaries take place during working hours and I believe that any burglar would not want to meet their victims or chance a meeting. The choice of invasion at the evening is suggestive that this was not a burglary. The assailant’s actions lacked caution, as the killer smashed his way into Hall Farm. And yet; if the killer was known to Mrs. Brown why would he not simply use the front door? There is a possibility that he knew her and Mrs. Brown did not know him — this was strongly suggested by Thames Valley Police.
This does not seem to be an opportunist thief caught in the midst of panic upon seeing Mrs. Brown. Janet Brown had been fully controlled by her killer and had little opportunity to resist. In a quiet area with the curtains open and the lights on — the assailant appears to be a severe risk taker. What is suggested is that an unknown man driven by some horrific instinct planned to smash their way into a stranger’s house on what first appeared to be a normal evening and this must have been a terrifying prospect for Mrs. Brown, home alone without her children and husband.
Ten-months after the killing police received two anonymous answer messages from a male caller that were deemed significant. Investigators said that it was unlikely that the calls were hoaxes given the tone and more importantly the content suggested by the caller. No further information came forward.
Recent developments have lead the police to have DNA evidence but despite checking against the swabs of 700 men — there has been no fruit from the evidence.
What we are left with from what we know of the case is a nightmare scenario of Mrs. Brown; a humble and private woman with a strong personality was bludgeoned to death while relaxing in bed in her own home. Picture Mrs. Brown’s reaction to having the tranquillity and stability of her evening and her life fatefully taken from her with little defining motive or reason.
And twenty five years on, we are still none the wiser as to who, what and why — which is little comfort to the Browns. And while no tragedy like this can ever be undone; the prospect of justice should give a shred of life back to Mrs. Brown and peace of mind to her children.
Potential witnesses are urged to contact Thames Valley police on 101 quoting the Janet Brown 1995 murder, or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.
- THE SECRET JANET TOOK TO THE GRAVE, DAVID JAMES SMITH