Blackpool Murder: Elisabeth Foster 1972

The 5.40 bus from Kirkham to Preston was ten minutes late on Sunday 2 January 1972.
Elisabeth Foster
Elisabeth Foster was 17 years old.  She was an attractive intelligent deeply religious girl.  On Sunday she was on her way to the Pentecostal Church in North Road Preston.  She lived  in Bleasdale Avenue a hundred yards from the bus-stop at Millbanke in Kirkham. She set out to catch the 5.40 bus.
Two passengers got on the bus at Millbanke and one passenger had travelled from Blackpool.  All three confirmed that Elisabeth did not get on the bus.  A friend had walked part of the way with her and somebody who knew her slightly had seen her on her way to the bus-stop.
When Elisabeth did not return that night her family assumed that she had stayed with relatives as she sometimes did.  The next day they reported her missing.
Two people walking their dog the next day found the body of Elisabeth in a field off Bryning Lane in Wrea Green found Elisabeth’s body.  The post -mortem revealed she had been strangled and sexually assaulted. He assailant was Blood Group B.  One shoe and her underwear was missing.
A massive murder investigation too place.  Every man in Kirkham was asked to give a blood sample. 10000 samples were collected.  35000 people were interviewed.  A murder control centre was set up at Kirkham with 70 detectives.
Forensic investigation found flecks of paint on Elisabeth’s body and traces of car upholstery.  Plaster casts were  made of tyre-marks at the murder scene.
The head of Lancashire CID, Joe Mounsey the most capable detective in Britain put Detective Inspector Ian Huntley in charge of the investigation in April.
In spite of all that was known eleven weeks after the murder there was no suspect.  Police knew the kind of car that was used because of samples from the carpet, samples of paint and the tyre-markings. They knew the killer’s blood group.
At  a debriefing meeting  Blackpool detective Jim Williams made the suggestion that solved  the case.  He said that the killer might have scrapped the car.  Detectives began to search local scrapyards.
The suspect car, a 1962 MG Magnette was found in a Poulton scrapyard and a search of DVLA records revealed its former owner.  The tyres were missing but the scrapyard owner kept good records and the tyres were recovered and matched the plaster casts taken by forensic investigators including an anomaly.
The case was a classic forensic investigation and one of the largest murder investigations that the Fylde had seen..
Brian Herbert Ball was a bus-driver.  He regularly drove Elisabeth to Blackpool.  He had been working on the night that Elisabeth set out to catch the bus to Preston but had asked for a four hour break.
When questioned by detectives he proved to have Blood Group B.Brian Herbert Ball
Why did a good looking 30 year old man of previous good character kill a seventeen year old girl?.
According to his testimony he picked her up in his car near the bus-stop and offered to drive her to Preston.  Taking an indirect route he drove via Inskip.  When she resisted his advances he put his hands on her neck and realised she was dead.  He left her body at Wrea Green.  When he realised her shoe and purse were in the car he threw them out of the car at Marton.
Brian Ball lived at Daggers Hall Lane, Blackpool,  with his wife Margaret and two sons aged seven and five. Margaret and Brian  had  marital differences but Margaret wife had no idea that he was involved until the Police appeared at their doorstep.
Brian Ball was very ably represented by George Carmen, who later represented Jeremy Thorpe and his fellow defendants at the “Trial of the Century. ”  The conspiracy to silence Norman Scott was coincidentally hatched in Blackpool.   At his trial in Lancaster he was found guilty of manslaughter rather than murder.  He was jailed for ten years.
According to Brian Herbert Ball he did not intentionally seek out Elisabeth Foster.
This is hard to credit.  He was aware of her movements and he was working that night.  He asked for four hours leave claiming he was ill.
It took some time to find a replacement driver which is why the 5.40 bus from Kirkham to Blackpool was ten minutes late on Sunday January 2 1972.

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