The 13-year-old schoolgirl was beaten to death with an iron tent peg on February 15, 1997, as she painted a patio door in the garden of her home in Lower Park Road, next to Alexandra Park, in Hastings. Her killer remains unknown and police say they have no plans to reopen the murder investigation unless new evidence comes forward.
Billie-Jo’s foster father Sion Jenkins was cleared of murdering the Helenswood School pupil after spending six years in jail. A post on the website, Justice for Sion Jenkins, last year said the “story of Billie-Jo can’t have a happy ending but it should have a truthful one.” It called for Sussex Police to reopen the case and “show the moral courage to own its past, and the honesty to admit that serious mistakes were made in 1997.”
It added: “Today, information travels faster than ever before and remembering past events becomes harder with the passing of time. Yet today, lots of people still remember the sad story of Billie-Jo and its unfinished ending. They ask why there’s been no justice for her. Who killed Billie-Jo? Someone knows the answer and it’s time to tell the truth.”
Mr Jenkins was arrested nine days after the schoolgirl’s death and was found guilty of murder at Lewes Crown Court on July 2, 1998. He was freed on appeal pending a retrial in 2004. The jury in two subsequent retrials failed to reach a verdict and Mr Jenkins was formally acquitted in 2006. In August, 2010, Mr Jenkins lost his bid for compensation over the six years he spent in prison.
This week, Sussex Police issued a statement to confirm Billie-Jo’s murder is not being reinvestigated.
“This case forms part of Sussex Police Crime Review Team’s schedule of unresolved investigations. Each unsolved homicide is assessed two-yearly, to examine any new information that may have become available, or to consider any advances in investigative techniques, that would make re-opening the investigation viable.
“Currently no new information has been provided in this case and it is not being reinvestigated. We will always examine any new information or forensic opportunities which might lead to new lines of enquiry whenever they arise. Anyone who has any new information that could lead to new lines of enquiry in this case can always contact Sussex Police by calling 101 at any time, quoting Operation Cathedral.”
In January 2008, a memorial bench for the teenager was unveiled in Alexandra Park, close to where Billie-Jo lived. Her friends spent two years fundraising for the memorial, which was carved from a single trunk of oak and designed by local artist Joc O’Hare. It is engraved with a message to Billie-Jo from her friends.