The Trail Went Cold – Minisode 19 – Penny Bell

June 6, 1991. Greenford, England. While leaving her family’s home, 43-year old Penny Bell tells a group of builders that she is running late for an appointment. Later that morning, Penny is discovered dead inside her vehicle after being brutally stabbed 50 times. Three days before her death, Penny had withdrawn £8,500 from her bank account without telling anybody, but the money is never recovered and no one uncovers the reason for the mysterious appointment which led to Penny’s death. “The Trail Went Cold” will be travelling back to the United Kingdom for this week’s minisode, as we chronicle one of the country’s most baffling unsolved murders.

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The Trail Went Cold is produced and edited by Magill Foote.

All music is composed by Vince Nitro.

3 thoughts on “The Trail Went Cold – Minisode 19 – Penny Bell

  • It occurred to me that one plausible explanation for this murder would be that Penny Bell was hiring a hitman to kill her husband, and that the hitman instead decided to kill her and take the money, as an easier option than tackling a man. It is possible that someone else was the target, but I don’t think this is likely. If the money was taken out of a joint account, there’s the matter of how she was going to justify the withdrawal to her husband – unless, of course, she believed that he’d be dead and unable to question her. If you look at the dates, you see that she withdrew the money on the 2nd or 3rd of June, so too late to appear on May’s bank-statement, and which would give her a whole month to arrange her husband’s murder before June’s statement arrived.

    I don’t doubt that her husband would find it difficult to accept, but he’d hardly be the first man who was shocked to find that his wife wanted him dead.

    I agree that £8,500 doesn’t seem a lot for a contract killing, but it’s possible either that (a) Penny Bell had some cash already to make it up to (say) £10,000, or (b) the £8,500 was only a down-payment.

    • I’ve a few listeners pitch that idea as a theory and it’s certainly possible. I’m just not sure what Penny’s motive would be for wanting her husband dead.

  • Everyone assumes that the £8,500 she secretly took out days before the murder was either for whoever she was meeting or stolen by her killer, but it’s entirely possible that money was transacted for something before the murder. The 2018 Vice article about the case mentions that her husband said she had been “incredibly stressed” days before the murder, and wouldn’t tell him why. I think this and other details like how cold he grew after her death (telling their daughter he “wished he’d never met my mother, because then he wouldn’t be in this situation.”), and how scandalous everyone assumed their relationship was afterwards, indicates that she might have been blackmailed. Perhaps the meeting was because she wasn’t going to pay anymore. The wallpaper samples in the car might have been part of her cover for what she was doing. Even being stabbed so many times isn’t necessarily a sign of passion, given the killer made her pull into a crowded parking lot he probably just struck fast and hard to make sure she died as quickly as possible.

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