Five days lapse between body being found in Wisbech and murder investigation recalls four day gap in launching murder hunt for Una Crown’s killer
- Credit: Archant
It took five days before police began a murder inquiry into the death of a woman in Wisbech, a Channel 4 documentary has revealed.
Initially alcohol was logged as the cause of death but it was only later, and on the instructions of a coroner, that the case was passed to the Cambridgeshire, Bedfordshire and Herts major crime unit.
Their investigation – hampered by the flat in which the body was found not being secured – led to the trial and conviction of her boyfriend killer.
The drama unfolded on Monday during the screening of 24 Hours in Police Custody in a case that echoed that of the murder in Magazine Lane, Wisbech, in 2013 of retired postmistress Una Crown, 86.
She had been repeatedly stabbed before her body was set on fire although her injuries were not discovered until four days later during post mortem by which time the scene had also been contaminated. Her murderer has never been caught.
This week Channel 4 focused on Dzilva Butiene, 48, who was killed at her home in Orange Grove, Wisbech in April 2017.
Mrs Butiene was pronounced dead at the property after the ambulance service was called with reports she was unconscious.
- 1 Both drivers seriously injured after head on crash
- 2 Developer going flat out to convert former post office
- 3 Arson arrest after Wisbech blaze
- 4 Crews tackle blaze in Wisbech
- 5 Top roles confirmed at council owned housing firm
- 6 Hospitals raise car parking costs for first time in six years
- 7 Captured Cambridgeshire man 'charged with mercenary activities' by Russia
- 8 Wisbech family discover 'ultimate side hustle'
- 9 Stress, anxiety, mental health and depression prompt rise in days off
- 10 ‘Thank you, my NHS, you were simply amazing’
At the time her death was deemed not suspicious, however, following concerns raised by the coroner the major crime unit took the case on as a murder enquiry.
A post mortem carried out by Dr Nat Cary concluded Mrs Butiene died as a result of a trauma to the abdomen that caused her liver to lacerate in two places.
A man-hunt was launched for Mrs Butiene’s partner, Kestutis Bauzys, 48, who was found sleeping in a tent in the woods outside of Wisbech and arrested.
As the murder hunt began one officer was filmed saying that “what concerns me is some of the bruising around her chest and neck area”. Mrs Butien’s swollen lip, he said, indicated some kind of assault. There was also an indication of physical restraint.
The TV programme showed the first 999 call in which one of three occupants of the flat where Mrs Butienne’s body was discovered initially claiming he was trying to keep her alive before conceding “she is cold, I think she is dead”.
Dr Graham McMillan who reviewed the 999 call felt that potentially the person who made it was trying to alter the narrative.
“You do get a hunch through experience something is not right,” he said. “During my career I have dealt with 200 murders”
He said the biggest challenge facing detectives was the five day time delay during which people had walked through the flat and DNA and the scene had been contaminated.
Some of the background, too, was revealed about the victim, who had been at school with her killer, When her own marriage collapsed after 20 years she came to Wisbech from Lithuanian, packing flowers for a living..
But the programme also revealed the alcohol fuelled lifestyle she had gotten into with Bauzys.
Police revealed that Bauzys had visited a nearby shop about 30 minutes before the ambulance was called to buy alcohol. He happened to mention to the shop assistant his wife was not breathing.
When questioned by police he claimed Mrs Butiene had died as a result of a fall and her alcoholism and that he was not responsible for her death.
“She was drinking in the street – anywhere” he said in one police interview.
Once he became a prime suspect for the murder, police were shown trawling Wisbech to find him, eventually tracking him down to a tent encampment on the outskirts where other Lithuanians were camping out too.
In October 2017 he was found guilty of murder at Cambridge Crown Court and was sentenced to life, to serve a minimum of 17 and a half years.
Det Chief Insp Alan Page said: “This was a horrendous case of domestic abuse behind closed doors and Bauzys consistently denied any involvement in his partner’s death.
“Thankfully the medical evidence showed her injuries were consistent with an assault, fall from a first floor building or high speed collision where a victim wasn’t wearing a seatbelt.
“In this case officers had not received any previous reports of domestic abuse involving the couple but clearly Mrs Butiene was at significant risk.
“We would urge anyone who is in an abusive relationship to take the step to get support.”
Police say anyone who is a victim of domestic abuse should call 101 or the national domestic violence helpline on 0808 2000 247.