|Date||11/12 September 1987|
|Location||Heath House, Heath, Herefordshire, England|
|Suspects||Baroness Susan de Stempel|
Simon Dale (17 June 1919 – September 1987) was an English retired architect whose murder in September 1987 remains unsolved. Described as "an eccentric recluse", Dale was found bludgeoned to death in his countryside mansion in Heath, Herefordshire, England. The only suspect, Dale's former wife Baroness Susan de Stempel, was cleared of his murder due to insufficient physical evidence. The case is noted as being "one of West Mercia Constabulary's relatively few unsolved murders".
Though the investigation into Dale's murder did not finish with any convictions, there were successful charges of fraud against de Stempel, two of their children, and her new husband. The possible existence of £12 million worth of gold bars remains in doubt with no proof of their existence.
Simon Dale was born Thomas Simon Savage Dale on 17 June 1919 in Richmond, Surrey, to middle-class parents Beatrice née Pritchard and Thomas Lawrence Dale, an architect. Dale spent some of his architectural career restoring dilapidated country homes.  He wrote scholarly works centring around Arthurian legend, though none were published. Ignoring the scepticism of archaeologists, he believed that Hopton Heath was an integral part of the legend and that the Holy Grail was buried in the area. 
Susan Wilberforce, the great-great-granddaughter of Georgian politician William Wilberforce, was 23 when she met Dale in London, he being fifteen years her senior.  They married in 1957,  and purchased Heath House two years later, saving the Jacobean mansion, built in 1620, from likely demolition. The couple had five children  but the marriage did not last.
His eyesight failing, Dale struggled to find work; they chose for Susan not to find employment. The pair regularly argued and lived in different parts of the 50-room house, finally divorcing in 1972. The couple agreed in their settlement to sell Heath House and split the profits, but the sale proved impossible. For fifteen years "unstable house prices" and Dale's refusal to leave the house stifled any interest in the property. Correspondence between their solicitors continued but did not make any progress and neither side was able to support their case financially in court. 
Susan found life after her first marriage to be very difficult and had to rely on handouts from her family, finding a home in Docklow, near Leominster. She married Baron Michael Victor Jossif de Stempel in 1984, acquiring the title of Baroness. De Stempel was from a wealthy Russian family, the holders of an ancient Latvian title, and their marriage was part-funded by the sale of her aunt's jewellery. The relationship lasted just a year. 
Dale lived mostly in the kitchen and one bedroom in Heath House, the remainder of the property left to gather dust.  Two of his children, Marcus and Sophia, had been visiting regularly to help tidy the exterior of the house and the surrounding grounds. Susan admitted to having broken into the house to reclaim furniture that she considered to be rightfully hers. During this time Dale is said to have felt besieged, and there were several angry confrontations between the two parties. Dale was found dead in the kitchen on 13 September 1987, food still cooking in the oven, by Giselle Wall, his editorial assistant. Investigations revealed that his head had been bludgeoned with a hard, narrow instrument. Dale's headstone in the churchyard of St Edward's, Hopton Castle, is inscribed with "11/12 September 1987" as the date of death. 
Susan, Marcus and Sophia were initially arrested on suspicion of murder, but the two children were dropped from the investigation after just a few weeks. Susan was charged with the murder of Dale but was found not guilty in the trial in Worcester Crown Court. The purported murder weapon was a crowbar that had been used by the three during renovations. It had been recently cleaned and there were no signs of blood.  The prosecution said that they would accept a verdict of manslaughter, citing that Susan had been provoked by Dale's reluctance to sell the house.  The case was presented with insufficient physical evidence and the charges could not be upheld.  The case therefore remains as "one of West Mercia Constabulary's relatively few unsolved murders". 
As part of the murder investigation, police conducted routine financial checks. They became suspicious of the fate of Margaret Illingworth (née Wilberforce), Susan's aunt and the second wife of former cabinet minister Albert Illingworth, 1st Baron Illingworth. Margaret was suffering from dementia and was invited to holiday in the de Stempel home in Docklow in February 1984. While there her fortune, much of it in the form of gold bars and valuable paintings, disappeared. At the same time her money and shares were sold using forged signatures and the contents of her London flat were emptied and sold at auction. It is estimated that Margaret was defrauded out of around £1 million before being placed in the care of a nursing home at Hereford. She died in late 1986 and, as other members of the family were mostly unaware of her whereabouts, few attended her cremation at Hereford Crematorium. Margaret's will had been recently changed to remove her request to be buried in the Illingworth family tomb in Bradford. It also named Susan as the main recipient of most of her possessions. 
While in custody from the murder trial in 1988, Susan remained under investigation for fraud in early 1990, two years later. Shortly before facing trial in Birmingham, Susan changed her plea to guilty of defrauding her aunt out of £500,000. Marcus and Sophia maintained their innocence, claiming to be the "unwitting tools" of their mother, and her husband Michael was also brought in. The four were found guilty, with the judge declaring Susan a "malign and appalling influence" on her children. Michael was believed to have used his understanding of banking and wills to aid the fraudulent affair. Susan was sentenced to seven years and Michael to four years. Sophia and Marcus were given 30 months and 18 months respectively. Investigations into the whereabouts of Margaret's thirty gold bars, valued at £12 million, proved fruitless despite a dig in the grounds of Heath House. The existence of the gold has never been proven.  
In 2011, a documentary on the case was aired by Investigation Discovery as part of their Great Crimes and Trials series. The episode was titled 'Murder in the Mansion'. 
The history of this case is detailed in The Trials of the Baroness, a 1991 book by Terry Kirby. It is also the basis for the true crime book Blood Money: The Story Of The Baroness de Stempel Scandal by Kate Wharton.  The case also serves as the inspiration for The Jesse Tree by Linda Hurcombe,  a 2018 novel in which the murder, the trial and the gold bars are woven into the fictional story of a young Romany Gypsy and her friend.
Peter William Sutcliffe, also known as Peter Coonan, and dubbed in press reports as the Yorkshire Ripper, was an English serial killer who was convicted of murdering thirteen women and attempting to murder seven others between 1975 and 1980. He was sentenced to twenty concurrent sentences of life imprisonment, which were converted to a whole life order in 2010. Two of Sutcliffe's murders took place in Manchester; all the others were in West Yorkshire.
The Manson Family was a commune, gang, and cult led by criminal Charles Manson that was active in California in the late 1960s and early 1970s. The group consisted of approximately 100 followers, who lived an unconventional lifestyle and frequently used psychoactive drugs like Benzedrine (amphetamine) as well as hallucinogens such as LSD. Most were young women from middle-class backgrounds, many of whom were attracted by hippie culture and communal living and then radicalized by Manson's teachings.
The murder of Vera Page is a British unsolved child murder case from the early 1930s. On 14 December 1931, 10-year-old Vera Page was reported missing after she failed to return to her home in Notting Hill, London, from a visit to a nearby relative. The child's body was found two days later in undergrowth in nearby Addison Road. Vera had been raped, then manually strangled to death in a murder described by one detective as "the most terrible in which I had to deal with during my career".
The Hall–Mills murder case involved Edward Wheeler Hall, an Episcopal priest, and Eleanor Mills, a member of his choir with whom he was having an affair, both of whom were murdered on September 14, 1922, in Somerset, New Jersey, United States. Hall's wife and her brothers were accused of committing the murders, but were acquitted in a 1926 trial. In the history of journalism, the case is largely remembered for the vast extent of newspaper coverage it received nationwide; it has been regarded as an example of a media circus. It would take the Lindbergh kidnapping trial in the 1930s to eclipse the high profile of the Hall-Mills case.
The Wonderland murders, also known as the Four on the Floor Murders or the Laurel Canyon Murders, are four unsolved murders that occurred in Los Angeles, California, United States, on July 1, 1981. It is assumed that five people were targeted to be killed in the known drug house of the Wonderland Gang, three of whom—Ron Launius, William "Billy" Deverell, and Joy Miller—were present. Launius, Deverell, and Miller, along with the girlfriend of an accomplice, Barbara Richardson, died from extensive blunt-force trauma injuries. Only Launius' wife Susan survived the attack, allegedly masterminded by organized crime figure and nightclub owner Eddie Nash. Nash, his henchman Gregory Diles, and porn star John Holmes were at various times arrested, tried, and acquitted for their involvement in the murders.
Levi Bellfield is an English serial killer, sex offender, rapist, kidnapper, and burglar. He was found guilty on February 25, 2008, of the murders of Marsha McDonnell and Amélie Delagrange and the attempted murder of Kate Sheedy, and sentenced to life imprisonment. On June 23, 2011, Bellfield was further found guilty of the murder of Milly Dowler. On both occasions, the judge imposed a whole life order, meaning that Bellfield will serve the sentence without the possibility of parole. Bellfield is the only prisoner in history to have received two whole life orders.
Albert Holden Illingworth, 1st Baron Illingworth PC, was a British businessman and Liberal politician. He served as Postmaster General between 1916 and 1921 in David Lloyd George's coalition government.
House on Telegraph Hill is a 1951 American film noir starring Richard Basehart, Valentina Cortese, and William Lundigan, and directed by Robert Wise. The film received an Academy Award nomination for its art direction. Telegraph Hill is a dominant hill overlooking the water in northeast San Francisco.
The Keepers is a seven-episode American documentary web series that explores the unsolved murder of nun Catherine Cesnik in 1969. Cesnik taught English and drama at Baltimore's all-girls Archbishop Keough High School, and her former students believe that there was a cover-up by authorities after she suspected that a priest at the high school, A. Joseph Maskell, was guilty of sexually abusing students. The series was directed by Ryan White and released on Netflix in 2017.
The Villisca axe murders occurred between the evening of June 9, 1912, and the early morning of June 10, 1912, in the town of Villisca, Iowa, United States. The six members of the Moore family and two guests were found bludgeoned in the Moore residence. All eight victims, including six children, had severe head wounds from an axe. A lengthy investigation yielded several suspects, one of whom was tried twice. The first trial ended in a hung jury and the second ended in an acquittal. The crime remains unsolved.
Thomas Lawrence Dale, FRIBA, FSA was an English architect. Until the First World War he concentrated on designing houses for private clients. From the 1930s Dale was the Oxford Diocesan Surveyor and was most noted for designing, restoring, and furnishing Church of England parish churches.
Daniel John Morgan was a British private investigator who was murdered with an axe in a pub car park in Sydenham, London, in 1987. Despite several Metropolitan Police investigations, arrests, and trial, the crime remains unsolved. An independent review into the handling of the investigation of Morgan's killing was published in 2021; it found that the Met Police had "a form of institutional corruption" which had concealed or denied failings in the case.
Jacqueline Mary Thomas was an English 15-year-old biscuit factory worker from Alum Rock, Birmingham, who was sexually assaulted and strangled after disappearing on 18 August 1961. Her body was discovered a week later close to her home, and the murder sparked a manhunt involving several hundred police officers. A suspect was identified at the time, but there was insufficient evidence to charge him, and the crime remained unsolved for over four decades until a cold case review in the 2000s. In 2007, 70-year-old Anthony Hall – already serving a life sentence for the murder of another teenager – was charged with Thomas's murder. However, a judge subsequently ruled the charge should be stayed owing to the length of time that had passed since the incident. Hall subsequently died in prison.
Heath is a dispersed hamlet in north Herefordshire, England.
The murders of Margaret Tapp and Seana Tapp, sometimes simply referred to as the Tapp murders, are unsolved crimes that occurred on 7 August 1984. The murders have been described as one of the most notorious unsolved murder cases in Australian history.
Grégory Villemin was a French boy from Lépanges-sur-Vologne, Vosges, who was abducted from his home and murdered at the age of four. His body was found four kilometres (2.5 mi) away in the River Vologne near Docelles. The case became known as the Grégory Affair and for decades has received public interest and media coverage in France. The murder remains unsolved.
Hereford Cemetery and Crematorium is the municipal burial ground and crematorium for the city of Hereford, England, and its surrounding area. It is located on the south side of Westfaling Street west of the city centre.
Docklow and Hampton Wafer, is a civil parish in the county of Herefordshire, England, and is 11 miles (18 km) north from the city and county town of Hereford. The closest large town is Leominster 4 miles (6 km) to the west. The parish contains the remains of Uphampton Camp, a probable Iron Age hillfort, and the Church of St Bartholomew, in part dating to the 12th and 13th century.
Alun Kyte, known as the Midlands Ripper, is an English double murderer, serial rapist, child rapist, paedophile and suspected serial killer. He was convicted in 2000 of the murders of two sex workers, 20-year-old Samo Paull and 30-year-old Tracey Turner, whom he killed in December 1993 and March 1994 respectively. After his conviction, investigators announced their suspicions that Kyte could have been behind a number of other unsolved murders of sex workers across Britain in the 1980s and 1990s. He was apprehended due to the ground-breaking investigations of a wider police enquiry named Operation Enigma, which was launched in 1996 in response to the murders of Paull, Turner and of a large number of other sex workers. Kyte was sentenced to a minimum of 25 years imprisonment for the murders of Paull and Turner.