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Muriel McKay kidnapping: New twist in hunt for body at Stocking Pelham farm

A new twist in the perplexing mystery of what happened to Muriel McKay after she was kidnapped for £1m ransom and then murdered near Bishop’s Stortford has emerged.

The 55-year-old was snatched by mistake on December 29, 1969, by brothers Arthur and Nizamodeen Hosein, who believed she was the wife of newspaper tycoon Rupert Murdoch.

Her body has never been found, but the brothers were nevertheless convicted of the mother of three’s abduction and murder.

Muriel McKay
Muriel McKay

The Indian Muslims, who were born in Trinidad and moved to East Herts in 1968, took her to their rundown home at Rooks Farm near Stocking Pelham.

Arthur died in the secure Ashworth Hospital near Liverpool in 2009 and his brother was deported back to Trinidad after 20 years behind bars.

Nizamodeen has since claimed that Muriel suffered a heart attack and was buried under a dung heap, and early last year police again searched the farm site – a 17th-century property set in 11 acres.

Arthur and Nizamodeen Hosein
Arthur and Nizamodeen Hosein

Sky News crime correspondent Martin Brunt has reported that 75-year-old Nizamodeen has written to the Home Office asking it to lift a deportation order which still bars him from the UK so he can help pinpoint her final resting place.

The journalist said Nizamodeen has “formed an extraordinary bond” with Muriel’s daughter, Dianne, who is now 82.

According to Sky News, he told the Home Office: “I admit my involvement in the kidnap and death of Muriel McKay and I have been attempting to assist her daughter Dianne in locating her body.

"I believe I am the only living person who knows where Muriel's body is and would like her body to be found before I myself die."

Simon Farquhar at one of the telephone boxes used to demand money from the McKay family at Berden
Simon Farquhar at one of the telephone boxes used to demand money from the McKay family at Berden

Last year, the Indie reported on writer Simon Farquhar’s investigation of the notorious crime.

As part of his extensive research for his book, A Desperate Business: The Murder of Muriel McKay, he too interviewed Nizamodeen.

He told the Indie: “The McKay family had located him sometime earlier and he had seemingly made a kind of confession, that Muriel had died of a heart attack and that he had buried her at Rooks Farm. Naturally, they wanted this acted upon, but, after a week of searching in February 2022, the police found nothing.

Muriel and Alick McKay
Muriel and Alick McKay

"In the book, I make a point of detailing all the reasons why Nizam's account could not be true – quite apart from the fact that he is incapable of telling the truth and always has been.

"It depressed me that his account, in which he was a blameless onlooker, had become the official narrative of the story – that he was still managing to manipulate and deceive people.

"My interview with him was a vivid experience and inevitably chilling. In previous media appearances, he has given a performance as something of an innocent, but he didn't attempt that with me, he was surly and unfeeling, and clearly cares nothing for the continued pain he puts that family through."

Bishop’s Stortford played a central role in the police operation as the kidnappers demanded £1m.

A policeman and woman disguised as Muriel’s husband Alick, who was Rupert Murdoch’s deputy, and daughter Dianne attempted to make the drop-off in December 1969.

The kidnappers sent them from east London to Epping and then onto Bishop's Stortford, where they were told to leave the cases full of cash by a van on the former Gates garage forecourt, then at the intersection of South Road and London Road.

The Met police had not warned Hertfordshire Constabulary about the operation, however, and Joan Abbott, latterly one of Bishop's Stortford's best-loved and most steadfast charity volunteers, and her husband Peter spotted the suspicious bags and notified the police.

The operation was abandoned, but not before a detective keeping watch had spotted a blue Volvo cruising past the pick-up and noted its registration.

The trail then led to Rooks Farm, where officers found evidence linking the brothers to the kidnap, but no trace of Muriel.

Mr Farquhar’s investigation led him to believe that older brother Arthur rather than his younger sibling held the key to Muriel’s fate.

He unearthed a letter from Arthur's solicitor to the Court of Appeal, which reveals that Arthur has told him where Muriel is buried and names the location.

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