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Alan Leppard and Brenda Long

Thirty years ago, the whole of the English county of Kent felt shocked to its core when a new couple, who were madly in love, were murdered—nine months apart. The mysterious case of Alan Leppard and Brenda Long has baffled detectives ever since, and to this day, we still have more questions than answers.

Alan

At the end of 1990, 43-year-old Alan Leppard and 42-year-old Brenda Long were just beginning their life together in the small Kent village of Monkton. Both had had rather complicated love lives until that point—Brenda was divorced and left her car dealer boyfriend, Arthur Hibbert, after meeting Alan—who in turn was in the middle of his fourth divorce. Now, Brenda and Alan, who met while working for P&B metal components in the seaside town of Whitstable, finally felt like they had found the right person in each other. They were planning on getting married and looked forward to their future together.

Living in Monkton, the couple soon became a familiar sight at the local bar called White Stag, which was located two doors down from their home, where, Alan, and Brenda would often be seen having a drink and socialising before heading back to their cottage.

However, on Easter Monday, the 1st of April, 1991, the couple decided not to have a quiet night in. But as they were in bed watching TV, Brenda heard a knock on the door just after 10 PM. She noticed that Alan had fallen asleep, so she woke him up before going to the window and seeing two unknown men next to a “large white car.” But before Alan had time to go downstairs and open the door, the mystery men were already gone. Thinking that whoever the visitors were would come back if the matter was important, the couple went back to bed. Just 45 minutes later, there was again knocking on the door.

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Alan got up this time and went to the window, confirming that it was again the two men with the white car. Alan told Brenda he would go downstairs to answer it, and she followed him. Alan asked: Who is it?  through the door, but nobody responded. Alan opened the door and went outside… Then, Just a moment later, Brenda heard something disturbing. She later told in an interview:

“He went outside and then there was An almighty bang and a scream. I went to go outside. Alan came round the corner, and as he came towards me, he must have moved his hands because I was absolutely covered in blood, and I started screaming.

The two stumbled back inside their apartment while Alan bled heavily from a wound in his chest—it was clear he had been shot. Unfortunately, Alan died in Brenda’s arms before help arrived.

Police quickly arrived at the scene and began the process of gathering evidence and taking statements from shocked members of the community who informed them that they had witnessed a white American saloon car slowly cruising around the area that night, seemingly scoping the area. But, right from the start, the police had a hard time figuring out what had happened. It appeared Alan’s murder had elements of a contract killing, but he did not seem to be the type of person who would have been ended up as a target. He was just an ordinary man living an ordinary life as a quantity surveyor. Who would have wanted him killed?

Before the police were able to answer that question, another tragedy struck.

Brenda

Following Alan’s death, Brenda moved to a flat 15 miles away in Whitstable, where the two had originally met. As months passed, Brenda was beginning to go about getting back on her feet. She reportedly tried to rekindle her relationship with Arthur Hibbert, who she had spent time with on Boxing day. Unfortunately, he was also the last person to see Brenda alive, as on December the 28th, she was found dead in the bath of her flat.

Nine months after Alan’s murder, Brenda’s body was discovered next to a suicide note with an empty pot of pills floating in the bathtub with her. However, investigators quickly found out that things were not as they first appeared. This was not a heartbroken woman taking her life after the sudden death of her lover—but another murder.

Pathologist Dr. Alexander Gibson had noticed a strange chemical smell during the post – mortem examination, and after carrying out further tests, he would later confirm the cause for the peculiar smell. It was from diethyl ether—a toxic substance that causes a person to blackout when inhaled. Due to bruising found on either side of Brenda’s nose, it was concluded that someone had held a pad soaked in ether over her face by force. However, no such pad was found at the crime scene, meaning Brenda could not have done this to herself.

Dr Gibson said “Someone applied the ether to her face by means of a pad without consent. She had been drinking and it is likely that she lost consciousness very quickly, possibly in just a few seconds, when the ether was administered.

“This was a deliberate and violent assault.”

Coroner Richard Sturt—who passed a verdict of unlawful killing—would describe the death as “one of the strangest and most disturbing cases I have dealt with for some time.”

Cold Case

From that moment on, Brenda’s murder was being investigated alongside Alan’s—but why was she killed nine months later? And if the murders were linked, why was Brenda’s staged to look like a suicide? And more importantly, what was the motive behind all of this?

At this point, the landlord of the White Stag pub at the time, informed the police that three weeks before Alan’s death, a man, described as having piercing eyes, aged between 35 and 38, with slicked back black hair, wearing a red tie, gold bracelet and gold watch called at the White Stag pub asking for him. Still, the identities of him and the men Brenda saw that night remain a mystery. And even more strangely, the police have never been able to trace the white Cadillac which is curious as cars like that are not an everyday sight in rural England. The police did appeal to the public through Crimewatch and received 950 calls from the public, yet the killers were never found.

Detective superintendent Nick Biddis, who led the investigation into Alan’s murder, and had developed a close bond with Brenda during the process, was in utter disbelief as to who would want to harm someone so well liked, who he says had absolutely no links to the crime world. Speaking back in 2011, he described Brenda, saying: She was a very likeable, affable, popular person who didn’t have an evil bone in her body. There was no reason to suggest neither Brenda nor Alan were involved in any criminality whatsoever. They were tragic victims. It’s a mystery”.

Police never found any evidence to suggest these were Contract killings, nor any reason why Alan or Brenda would have been targeted as such, although this theory has never been ruled out. Alan was killed with a 12-bore shotgun, which is an unlikely weapon of choice for contract killers as it is a very loud choice of gun. Still, there aren’t many other theories of why this happened and to this day, both murders remain unsolved, baffling detectives for 3 decades.

At the time of Alan’s murder, the small village of Monkton had a population of less than 500 residents. The left-hand drive Cadillac and the occupants were seen by numerous witnesses from the community in the hours leading up to the murder. Sketches were drawn of the occupants of the vehicle and the mystery man who visited the White Stag pub looking for Alan, Yet no trace of the distinctive American saloon or any of the suspects have ever been found.

Although the force faced criticism for this in the 1990’s, Detective Chief Inspector Neil Kimber, of the Kent and Essex Serious Crime Directorate, says the force still wants anyone who may have been holding onto any information for the past 30 years to come forward, reminding that:

“No case is ever closed.”

Somebody Knows More about these murders. If you have any information that could help solve this cold case, please call 01843 222289.

Thank you for listening to episode 1, series 2 of Somebody Knows More. For more information on this case and more, go to the website www.somebodyknowsmore.com  Join me, Rhiannon Doe, every Tuesday and Thursday evening to hear more true crime episodes, dedicated to missing person mysteries, unsolved murders and other true crimes in the UK.

Thank you for listening to Somebody Knows More.

EPISODE DETAILS:

Narration – Rhiannon Doe
Introduction & Outro – Derek Bartle
Website layout & design – Franhoward

SOURCES

20 years on: Can YOU help find Brenda’s murderer?

Police make fresh appeal for information about murders of Brenda Long and Alan Leppard

The mysterious murders of a Thanet couple who were killed 8 months apart

Kent double murder mystery reviewed 20 years on

Riddle of the Cadillac Killers 30 years after man and lover died nine months apart

30 years on from the unsolved double murder of Alan Leppard and Brenda Long

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