These cases are fairly local to me, and they don’t have anything like the notoriety of the Yorkshire ripper, but are similar in the sadness of the women’s lives and the violence with which they were taken. I have carefully looked into them, and I hope it is of interest to some.
Linda Donaldson didn’t have the best start. Born in January 1957 to fifteen year old Elaine, life was probably never going to be easy. The swinging sixties hadn’t yet started, and even if they had, it was some thirty years before single motherhood was viewed as in any way acceptable and meagre amounts of money would be given to girls and women struggling to raise their children alone. Linda was adopted by Elaine’s mother - her grandmother, Emma. Linda wasn’t told the truth about her parentage until later in life. This was a common way of approaching adoption in post war Britain and research seems to indicate that when the truth does come out - as it always does - it leads to feelings of anger and resentment against caregivers.
We don’t know enough about Linda’s early life to know if this was the case for her. We do know at the time of her death, she wasn’t in touch with Elaine and her contact with Emma appears to have been patchy at best.
Linda’s first marriage was when she was just 18, in 1969. The cultural norms of the time meant this wasn’t remarkable: the average age for marriage in 1969 was just 22. Eighteen is still young, however, and Linda’s marriage ended just two years later. The following year, she moved in with a boyfriend to the Waterloo area of Liverpool, aged just 21. Addiction to heroin soon followed.
I try to avoid conjecture, but in this case I think it is justified given how little we actually know
about Linda’s life. Getting married was the easiest way to be able to leave home. Women found it almost impossible to get mortgages even in the 70s and I'm not sure you could go down on the council waiting list as a single woman? Piecing together the raw facts - a troubled relationship with her family and a young marriage that ended almost as soon as it started, following with a relationship quickly on the heels of that marriage, it’s tempting to put together a picture of a woman who was perhaps outwardly tough, because she’d had to be, but inwardly vulnerable and starved of affection. Heroin was to replace the need for human affection, and this took Linda - and her boyfriend - to a commune in Holland before they returned to Liverpool. Her relationship ended in 1984, leaving Linda alone in Liverpool.
Liverpool now is a bustling, cosmopolitan and multi ethnic city. Liverpool in the 1980s was a different place altogether. It might be famous for the Beatles, for its shopping and for its football, but in the gloom of recessions and bitter disputes with unions, Liverpool in 1984, when Linda Donaldson returned to it, was a place that was dark, murky and dangerous. Factories were rapidly closing down, leading to mass unemployment. Poor housing shocked even shocked the Secretary of State for the environment, Patrick Jenkin, who promptly awarded Liverpool £20 billion. But this wasn’t just a financial issue. It was a social one, with hopelessness seeping into the city’s streets, but an angry hopelessness that turned inwards. Racial tensions erupted in Toxteth in 1981, and every problem associated with poverty oozed from Liverpool: domestic violence and inadequate housing, shuttered up shops and graffiti, vandalism and crime and fighting. And then, just as now, addiction. People have to have a form of escapism from this life.
So Linda Donaldson was submerged in this world. Even if she could have found a job, even if she could have supported herself, it’s unlikely it would have paid enough. It was 1984, some fifteen years before Tony Blair would introduce the minimum wage. She’d have been competing against hundreds for even a meagre job, and had she got one, it would have been unlikely to fund her habit. And so a half-life began, a transient lifestyle from bedsit to shared flat to sofa surfing to bedsit, with sex work to fund the habit and the habit needed to detach from the sex work. A more vicious circle can barely be imagined. But for all that, Linda wasn’t a violent or unpleasant character: she was sad rather than bad. Like many prostitutes, she frequently appeared in court but the charges were related to prostitution, to drug possession and to petty crimes.
On the night of Monday, October 17, Linda had been “in and out” for most of the afternoon: she would work until late at night and therefore would sleep late. When she left her home on Canning Street she was wearing black ankle boots, a black miniskirt, a black jacket and a studded belt. She was holding a white address book and had gold earrings described as “distinctive.” Tragically, Linda didn’t return to her flat and the next sighting of her was of her dead body.
The killer had subjected Linda to a violent and sustained attack, repeatedly stabbing her. Many of the wounds she had were inflicted after her death: we can only hope she didn’t suffer too much. Her killer cut off her breasts and attempted to cut off her head.
Linda’s killer drove from Liverpool city centre in the relative silence of an autumn night at the start of the week, away from the docks and the slums surrounding the city and onto the east lancs road, a long dual carriageway leading from Liverpool to Manchester. He stopped approximately halfway, at Warrington, and drove down a long country road, only around sixteen miles in distance but another world altogether culturally. The night was probably cool and misty. Despite its close proximity to both Liverpool and Manchester, Warrington is comparatively rural, with meadows and streams substituting abandoned factories and docks. The killer left Linda’s body behind the hedgerow in a farmers field there, where it was discovered the following day by an elderly couple. And there, a life that began in sadness ended in a similar vein.
Violence against sex workers sadly isn’t unusual, even though ‘ripper’ stories might grip the nation. Linda’s story is gruesomely echoed though by the discovery of Maria Requena’s body, two years later in the early days of 1991. Maria was working as a prostitute in Manchester, which like Liverpool lies some 16 miles from Winwick lane but in the opposite direction. Maria was found in Pennington flash, a nature reserve. Like Linda, she had had a sustained stabbing attack - and her head had been removed from her body. Pennington flash is just two miles from Winwick lane.
And two more women met violent and premature ends as the 90s continued. Later in 1991, Veronica Anderson (known as Vera) left her Warrington home on an evening in late summer. Vera received a mysterious phone call and dashed out. Her seven year old son was left with a neighbour - Vera assured her she would only be ten minutes. Her TV was left on and her purse was still at home. Yet Vera never returned. Her body was found in her car in the early hours of august 25, 1991.
Three full years passed until Julie Finley, who had only just turned 23, was abducted from Liverpool. Her body was found the following day in a field in rainford, an affluent suburb of Merseyside.
It’s unclear whether Vera Anderson and Julie Finley are linked to Linda and Maria. They are all women who came to a violent end and their bodies left in open country (although Vera was in her car.) But the differences are telling. There’s no evidence Vera or Julie were sex workers, although my personal opinion is that sex workers are targeted because they are easy prey rather than a particular dislike for them. But still, there were no shortage of women working the red light districts of Liverpool and Manchester in 1991-1994. Vera was a little older than the other women, a mum in her early 40s. There is evidence to suggest Julie’s killer was Christopher Halliwell, a man with a long history of violence against women. He certainly lived in close proximity to where Julie’s body was found.
It’s one of the saddest of unsolved mysteries as it’s a sad life as well as sad death. Hopefully one day a conviction will be made and the killer(s) of these women will be brought to justice.
Links about the cases are: Linda Donaldson Manchester evening news Maria Requena Manchester Evening News Vera Anderson Julie Finley Christopher Halliwell Crimewatch
- Linda’s story begins at 15:15
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~ 1.12 - Gnomes Can’t Stay Under Long ~
Noto Island 2nd Fireday of The Full Moon
Flea arrived at Sveny’s workshop an hour before midday’s break, hoping he had plenty of time for the Elf to craft and customize his armor.
“Hey, Sveny. I’m here to upgrade my armor to one of your quill sets.”
“Welcome back, Flea. Give me a few moments, and I can get you fitted for a set.”
Flea waited while Sveny finished helping another customer. Browsing through the shop and catching a glance of the customer, he noticed the client had long ears and a purple skin color with white tattoos. Flea thought the person might be part of the Dark Elven race, but he wasn’t sure. After waiting for a couple of minutes, Sveny finished with the possible Dark Elf’s new armor, and the mysterious stranger left without a word.
“Alright, Flea. Your turn.”
Fitting for the armor was relatively fast. Sveny took his measurements and modified a slightly larger set to fit Flea like a glove. After the fitting was completed, the Gnome asked about dying the set black.
“Yes. I can dye the armor a muted black for three silver.”
Flea handed Sveny the 33 silver for the armor set and dye customization.
The Elven shopkeeper took Flea’s set to the corner of the room. He started a fire under a large cauldron filled with water and tossed his armor pieces in. Walking across the room to a shelf behind the counter, Sveny pulled down a couple of vials. Walking back over to the cauldron, he poured them into the water. He alternated between pushing the pieces under the water and stirring the cauldron with an enormous looking paddle or oar.
“This will only take a few minutes once the water begins to boil. The quills will take the longest to absorb the dye, so once I’ve seen them change color the sets done.”
Ten minutes later, Sveny laid the soaked leather pieces out on a large bench. The quill set was dyed a very muted black, with no shine to any of the surfaces. Sveny suddenly raised his hand, and the driest wind Flea had ever felt blew across the set of pieces. The wind seemed to originate from the Elve’s open hand.
“Was that magic?”
“It’s a form of magic, I think. It’s a skill called [Desert’s Breath]. It’s from a Skill Core dropped by the Desert Harpies found around most deserts. It’s not very good in combat, but it’s wonderful for crafters that need to dry things fast like you just witnessed with your leather set.”
“How do you get a Skill Core?”
“They’re extremely rare. Skill Cores can drop from any creature that inhabits the fourteen worlds. The magic cores you’ve been collecting have a very slim chance of containing a skill from one of its natural abilities. Most creatures only drop a single skill, but there have been times when a second type of skill has dropped as well. Take the horned rabbits outside the town. They can drop a Skill Core called [Charged Leap]; this skill is perfect for warrior types.”
“I’ve killed hundreds of rabbits, and all I’ve gotten were dull cores.”
“You could kill thousands and never see a Skill Core. Most scholars have estimated the drop chance to be around .01% or 1 in 10,000. If you do find a Skill Core and don’t plan on using it, I would keep it to yourself and wait until you get to the mainland to sell it.”
“Thank you for the warning. I got one from Gronky about normal cores as well.”
“Good Advice, people have been killed by their own party members over cores in the past.”
“How do you use the Skill Cores?”
“Same way as normal cores, but you must have opened one of your Mana Gates. The first one should open for you at level 10. That being said, you should also keep your level to yourself at all times. Someone can figure out how strong you are by your level and use that against you as well. This world is very cut-throat with everything that’s on the line.”
“Wait, Mana Gates? What’s on the line?”
Sveny visibly cringes.
“Mana Gates are like pockets within your body that open up as you grow stronger. These pockets can hold the essence of a skill orb. That’s all I really understand about them. As for what’s on the line, you’ll find out in time. It’s too early for you younger adventurers to learn about the greater world just yet.”
“Sounds like an Epic Quest if I’ve ever heard one.”
“You could say that, Flea. Well, your armor is dried out now. You can go change behind that curtain against the wall.”
Flea put on his new armor; he was now covered entirely in black leather with quills stitched on all over its surface. The quills resembled very thin-metal plates around the vital parts of his body.
“Thank you! Sveny, this looks amazing. Any chance you have face coverings? Also, this has been bugging me. What happens if I die? Will the armor set stay with my body, or will someone be able to undress my corpse?”
“Appreciation for the compliment. I don’t have anything that would work like what you’re looking for. I would visit a tailor and maybe purchase a silk balaclava. If you die, the armor would stay with the corpse unless you soulbind it. Take care if you do soulbind the armor pieces, you won’t be able to sell them once you’re finished with them.”
“Can you soulbind any equipment?”
“You can with just about anything. There is a limit to how many pieces you can soulbind at one time. Everyone has a different capacity for soulbinding items, and once you reach that limit, you need to destroy one of your soulbound items before you can soulbind another.”
“Wow, why isn’t there some type of manual for adventurers when they come to this world?”
“It’s not someone’s job.”
“I guess you're right. We adventurers are just used to being handheld on the other worlds when we start exploring them.”
“You’ve been to other worlds besides Mea?”
Flea proceeded to explain about his adventures in Phantasmal Realms, and other games he had played.”
“That is fascinating. Where I come from. we never had these games. Your world will be fascinating to many of the scholars you come across on your travels here. I would speak to them if you find yourself in their company. They’d be willing to trade information for any of the stories you’ve told me today.”
The midday’s break bells rang in the distance.
“I’m sorry, Sveny. I’m late for my escort quest. I’ll try and stop by some other time and tell you more of my stories.”
Flea waved his goodbye and ran out of the shop towards the North Gate.
As he approached the gate, Flea could see a massive carriage with a tarp tied down over the cargo. The carriage was pulled by two giant creatures that resembled a cross between a giraffe and a rhino. Their body was large with a tough-looking hide, like a rhino’s. The creatures had six legs and a ten to twelve-foot neck rising from the back of its body and not it’s front. It was the craziest animal Flea had ever seen.
Around the carriage, three of the town’s guards were making sure the tarp was secure. Standing nearby was a Ferret, or maybe Mink Beastkin, with a clipboard in his hand. Flea swore the Mink looked like he had to poop badly with the disgusted look he was giving everyone. The Mink, seeing Flea, turned towards him and started speaking.
“There you are, Flea. We’ve been waiting three minutes for you! We should have been on the trail already.”
Without waiting for a reply, the Mink turned around and started barking orders to the three guards.
The other four adventurers presented themselves at the Mink’s barking. They had been sitting behind the carriage on a couple of benches. Flea spotted the Dark Elf customer from Sveny’s shop an hour ago. The player Frustrated, who helped heal his arm, was among the group as well. The other two were new to Flea; one was a Furbolg, and the other a Lizardman. He was unsure if the latter was a Beastkin or another race.
“Hello again, Flea. Good to see you,” Frustrated said.
“Good to see you as well, Frustrated,” Flea responded.
“Grel’ek” the Lizardman spoke.
“Is that your name?” Flea asked.
The Lizardman nodded his head and that was that. Flea learned the Dark Elf’s name was Ren, and the Furbolg was a female named Cuddles. The Mink yelled out something to the guards, then barked at the adventurers to surround the carriage. The group began traveling down the path towards the fields heading north.
Reaching the fields, Flea could see more players killing the rabbits then there had been a few days prior. None of the rabbits attempted to attack the caravan as they passed the fields along the pass. Flea took this time to prick his finger, dropping a couple of drops of his blood on each piece of his armor and then doing the same for his daggers. Nothing happened like with his adventurers’ tags, so he shrugged it off and kept up with his position near the carriage.
It took the group two hours to pass through the yellow fields of grain the rabbits inhabited and into rolling fields of short green grass and wildflowers. Another hour passed before Flea spoke up.
“What types of threats are we protecting the carriage from? There were the rabbits behind us, and I can’t see a single creature around these small hills.”
The Mink turned to Flea from the driver’s bench on the carriage.
“Bandits are our biggest concern. They’ve attacked the recent caravans going down to the harbor over the past few cycles. Hence why the mayor had decided to hire adventurers to escort my merry little group.”
Five hours into their travels, the bandits attacked the carriage with a handful of arrows launched from the tree line. One of the guards took an arrow to the throat and dropped off the driver’s side seat of the carriage. The Mink threw himself off the side, crawled under the carriage, and started screaming to kill them. Ren spun towards the direction of the archers, returning fire with his own bow, while Cuddles and Grel’ek charged towards the tree line. Frustrated was nowhere to be found as Flea stayed near the carriage looking around for danger.
Flea took up position with Ren and the remaining two guards near the carriage. Flea could hear fighting a moment later within the forest that lasted for a few moments. Two minutes after the sounds ceased, Cuddles came walking back to the group with Grel’ek trailing. The Lizardman was dragging one of the bandits behind him by the wrist.
Grel’ek threw the bandit to the ground in front of Flea.
“Asks him wheres camp,” he grunted out.
Flea just stared at the Lizardmen for a few moments and then shrugged. He walked up to the bandit and kicked him in the leg.
“Where’s the rest of your group?”
The bandit just stared up at Flea with hate-filled eyes.
Grel’ek then stabbed his sword down into the bandit’s leg, causing Flea to jump back as the bandit screamed.
“Tells the Gnome,” Grel’ek yelled down at the bandit. What the fuck! What. The. FUCK! This game allows you to torture the NPCs? That is beyond fucked up.
The bandit stopped screaming and started to whimper.
“Our camp is about an hour northwest of here, past a few hills. They’ll see you coming, there’s no way you’ll catch them.”
Grel’ek nodded his massive head and cut the bandits head off with a swift flick of his wrist.
“We goes, you protects,” he said, as he pointed to Flea.
Cuddles, Grel’ek, and Ren then marched off in the direction the bandit had indicated.
“Well that was an interesting fight,” Frustrated said as he walked up to the carriage from the tree line.
“Where the hell were you?”
“I snuck into the trees as soon as the fight began. I watched Cuddles and the Gater’s fight with the bandits, making sure nothing snuck up on them.”
“Are you a rogue of some sort?”
“Yes and no. Until I can get my hand on some shapeshifting skill cores, I won’t be able to play the type of class I want.”
“And what type of class is that?”
Flea helped the two guards move their comrades' body to the back of the carriage. Not wanting to idle around, the Mink ordered everyone to get moving. The five of them started heading towards the harbor again.
Three hours later Grel’ek and Ren caught up with them on the trail.
“Where’s Cuddles?” asked Flea.
“Didn’t make it. Cuddles charged the leader of the bandits and pulled too many of them. We couldn’t pull them off her before she bit it,” Ren replied.
[Kyle, may I offer some insight?]
“You can offer insight at any time, Bob,
” Flea replied mentally.
[Something isn’t right here, Kyle. Ren and Grel’ek don’t look to have been in a massive fight, as they have indicated.
“I don’t understand Bob, why would they lie about fighting the bandits?
[I do not know at this time. Their armor has no additional tears or cuts from their last battle. Also through your peripheral vision, I have noticed Ren and Frustrated sending hand signals every so often to one another and to Grel’ek.
“Thank you, Bob, I will try and keep a lookout for any more suspicious behavior.
“What’s wrong, Flea? You seem to be daydreaming,” asked Frustrated.
“Oh sorry! My mind is wandering, debating on my leveling path, and still trying to figure out if I’m going to pick up a craft of some sort.”
“Oh I can understand that, what level are you now?”
“Still only level 3, my luck with cores has been terrible,” Flea lied to him.
“Oh not bad. Most of the players are now starting to hit levels 1 & 2. I’m currently level 4.” Frustrated responded.
[Frustrated has signaled the other two again with hand gestures. I can’t decipher their meaning at this time. I believe they are planning something, Kyle.
They kept marching towards the harbor in silence after their short conversation. Flea stayed near the guards and away from the other three players. It wasn’t much longer till they could see the harbor in the distance. Two large structures dominated the landscape. The first looked very similar to the Inns back in town. The second resembled a warehouse. Jutting out from one of the warehouse's sides was a long dock, wide enough to hold two carriages side by side down its length. At the end of the dock sat a large schooner style sailing ship, with its sails down.
When the carriage pulled up to the dock, the Mink jumped off his seat and walked inside the inn. Not long after, he came back out, and handed each one of the players a bag of coins and a red chit with the word Tin in white on both sides.
“Your quest to escort our group has finished. You’ve also taken care of the bandits that have been attacking us. Noto and I are grateful. If you’re still on the island in five weeks, we will require esc...” The Mink’s words were cut off as Grel’ek swung his blade into the back of his neck. The Mink’s body dropped like a marionette with its strings cut.
Before Flea could dash away, his body jerked as a dagger was thrust into his back. Turning to look over his shoulder he found Frustrated yanking the blade out.
“Why?” Flea said as he fell backward and unable to move.
“Ren, Grel’ek, the building now, then the ship. As for you, Flea, sorry, but I’m going to keep sticking you once in a while while we load up the boat and sail away. No hard feelings, dude. But our little group needs a big payday to get the ball rolling to establish ourselves in Fantasy.”
“Who. Are... Group?” Flea struggled to ask.
“Oh, you’ve probably heard of us. We go by the name Lethality; we’re a top fifty guild in Phantasmal Realms. Here in Fantasy, we're aiming for the top spot. I’d kill you, but I don’t know how many hours your lockout is currently, and don’t want you to alert the town, so just lay there till we’ve sailed off into the sunset.”
[Kyle, remain on the ground and don’t move. The paralysis poison used should wear off faster than he suspects. Your constitution is much higher than most players currently. He probably thinks it would last fifteen minutes when it should only last five.
“Stay comfy. I’ll be back for another prick soon.”
Frustrated entered the building, and Flea could hear shouting coming from within. When the fighting stopped, the three emerged from the warehouse carrying various things and headed towards the boat. Ren stopped at the carriage and cut the ropes holding the canvas in place. He grabbed one of the boxes, and headed to the ship behind the other two. After a few minutes, they returned to the carriage to grab more of the cargo and repeated their trip to the vessel. Flea could tell the poison was leaving his system after the bastard’s third trip.
When the three of them were inside the ship on the third return, Flea stood up and ran into the building. Finding two men dead within, he frantically searched for something to use against them. One vs. three is not in my favor, but maybe I can stop them.
Thinking fast, he grabbed three oil lamps hanging on the wall. He blew out the flames and stuck them in his bag as he went up the stairs and onto the second floor. Peaking out one of the windows, he could see the trio coming back to the carriage.
Flea watched as the three Leathalty members returned to the carriage and saw the Gnome was no longer on the ground.
“Find that short bastard, he couldn’t have gone far!” Frustrated yelled in a rage.
Grel’ek ran down the road towards town, Ren sprinted towards the building Flea was currently in and Frustrated jogged towards the forest. Flea could hear Ren enter the building and start throwing things around. Moments later, he could hear footsteps coming up the stairs.
Opening the window, Flea hopped out as silently as possible. Looking around, he couldn’t see the other two thieves, and jumped down the ten or so feet to the ground, rolling as he landed. The Gnome took off down the dock towards the ship.
Hopping over the railing and looking around, he spotted the pile of loot inside the cabin they had started to collect and went over to inspect it. Not seeing anything he could use in the loot pile, he took out the three unlit lanterns, tossing one hard against the mast and sail. The lantern shattered, oil sticking to everything it landed on.
The second lantern he tossed into the cabin with the loot, giving it a nice coating of oil. He could hear Ren yelling in the distance to the other two, his voice getting louder and louder. Flea grabbed the third lantern and tossed it onto the ship’s wheel. Grabbing the fire starter out of the cooking kit, he ran into the cabin and lit a piece of cloth he swiped off the floor. With it now lit, Flea tossed the burning cloth onto the pile of loot, setting it ablaze.
Grabbing and tearing the canvas off of one of the boxes, he hung it over the fire, lit it, then ran outside and tossed it up towards the sail. The sail caught fire instantly, the flame ran down the entire length of the boom. Turning around to find something to light the ship's wheel on fire, Flea caught a boot to the head. Tumbling backward and landing against the railing, he found Ren looming over him.
“What have you done, you little son of a bitch!?”
“I’ve given you guys the gift of warmth for your travels. Everyone knows it’s cold on open water.”
Ren, not liking the answer given, tried to run the Gnome through with his sword. Dodging the thrust and turning around, Flea jumped off the ship and into the water. Swimming as fast as his little legs could muster, the Gnome swam towards the opposite shore. A moment later, he heard a ‘bloop’ sound next to him. Glancing over his shoulder, he saw Ren aiming his bow at him. Taking a fast breath, he dove down and kept kicking.
After swimming underwater for what seemed like an eternity, Flea started to suffocate and floated up. Breaking the surface, an arrow caught the Gnome in the shoulder. Screaming, then taking a couple of short breaths, he dove back under the water. Reaching behind him and grabbing the arrow’s shaft, Flea snapped the shaft off and started swimming forward again. Reaching the shore, he dragged himself onto the beach, gasping for air with great pain
Just as he stood up to start running, Grel’ek stabbed his sword down into Flea’s chest. You have Died! You may resurrect in 03:59:57.