Solving the murder of Sadie Hartley

Watch the video below to find out how detectives solved the murder of Sadie Hartley:


Sadie Hartley was at home on the night of Thursday, January 14th. She had returned from the stables where she rode her horse and she was home alone as her partner Ian Johnston was away skiing. 

At about 8pm there was a knock on the door and Sadie answered, unaware of course of what was about to happen. She was brutally and savagely stabbed to death.


Sadie Hartley


Police were called the next day by a concerned employee of Sadie’s as she had not been in touch with anyone that day which was unusual. Officers attended and sadly discovered Sadie’s body inside the address and a major investigation was launched.

Suspicions quickly fell upon Sarah Williams, a former girlfriend of Ian Johnston.  


Christmas Meal


She was arrested at her home in Chester on Sunday, January 17th. She denied having anything to do with the murder. Her friend Katrina Walsh was arrested on Monday, January 18th. Both were charged with murder. But the hard work for the officers was just beginning.

The arrests and charges were just the first stage and there was a long way to go and a huge amount of hard work by all of those involved in the investigation which eventually led to Williams’ conviction and that of Katrina Walsh.

There is no such thing as the perfect murder as the two of them were soon to learn. Thanks to modern policing techniques like CCTV, analysis of mobile phone use and tracking vehicles by using our automatic number plate recognition  cameras we were able to track the movements of both Sarah Williams and Katrina Walsh, both on the day of the murder itself and in the weeks and months leading up to it.

There is no doubt that the dedication and work of the officers and staff involved in this investigation was critical in solving this crime and bringing the killers to justice.  


Crime Scene Sunnybank Road

As the investigation unfolded it became clear that the pair’s murderous mission had been long in the planning – 18 months long – and all of it documented, unfortunately for Williams and Walsh, in a series of diaries written by Walsh.

The pair had gone to extraordinary lengths to plot the crime. They had bought a tracker which was placed on Ian Johnston’s car so they could find out where he and Sadie were living. They then carried out a number of reconnaissance missions to scope out the area and used a second hand car with false number plates to try to cover their tracks.  

They had travelled to Germany by ferry to buy a stun gun and bought clothes, including boots that were too big, which were to be used for the killing.

Germany Boot Stun GunThe final sinister move in the planning was to deliver flowers to Sadie a week before the murder so that Sarah Williams could identify her prey.  

Buying Flowers Knife

Sadly for them the pair’s murderous cunning did not survive the modern investigative techniques available to police and slowly but surely each move carried out by the two women was uncovered.


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