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Teacher's 1975 murder is oldest unsolved case

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The murder of Margery Wade has baffled police in Bermuda for more than 36 years. The teacher originally came from the north-east of England and here, Joe Willis

, a reporter on The Northern Echo newspaper in England, looks back at the case.

The jury at the inquest into the death of 34-year-old Margery Wade took just five minutes to return a verdict.

Murder by a person or persons unknown. The horrific facts of the case meant there could be no other conclusion.

The hearing in Hamilton heard how Miss Wade was found by her boyfriend, Wendell Johnson, as he returned from work at 5.30am on March 4, 1975.

He was climbing the stairs to his girlfriend's apartment on Laffan Street, Pembroke, when he noticed the front door was open.

Inside, he found his partner's partially-clothed body on a bed. Miss Wade had been clubbed to death by a screw-studded lump of wood and then raped. It was a tragic, violent end to a life that was being lived to the full.

The farmer's daughter from Middridge, near Shildon, County Durham, left school at 15 to study at Bishop Auckland Technical College.

She later started work as a secretary for Bakelite of Newton Aycliffe. However, she had ambitions to become a teacher and in 1968 enrolled at Huddersfield Teacher Training College.

Upon qualifying she started work at Cleveland Technical College as assistant lecturer in secretarial studies. Then in 1972 Miss Wade left for Bermuda after spotting a magazine advert for teachers of secretarial skills.

Her family and friends told of a happy and popular woman who loved her life in Bermuda and was intent on staying beyond her three-year work permit.

Her brother, John Wade, who runs a County Durham haulage company, said at the time that his sister would often talk about her job at the Berkeley Institute on her visits home and would proudly include details of her students' exam results in her letters.

On the night she died, Miss Wade had attended a shorthand class with a friend, Catherine Gartlan.

The pair went to a pub afterwards, before going on to Miss Gartlan's apartment. Miss Wade then walked home and apparently went straight to bed.

More than 4,000 people were interviewed in connection with the murder by Bermuda Police Service but no one has ever been convicted of the crime.

One of the few clues disclosed by detectives was the possible sighting of someone running from Miss Wade's flat hours before her body was found.

A search also revealed the murder weapon which had been dumped in a nearby canal. The wooden club was a piece of dinghy mast kept in the apartment by Mr Johnson, an amateur yachtsman.

The identity of the killer remains as much a mystery today as it did 36 years ago.

Miss Wade's murder was not the last tragedy on foreign soil to hit her family. Her cousin's daughter Rosanna Wade, from Darlington, England, was killed in northern Italy in 1991 by former boyfriend Alex Maggiolini.

Unsolved case: 1975 murder victim Margery Wade
Flashback: How The Royal Gazette reported Margery Wade?s murder in March 1975.

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Published August 26, 2011 at 11:00 am (Updated August 26, 2011 at 11:20 am)

Teacher's 1975 murder is oldest unsolved case

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