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Unsolved: Mystery that still surrounds murders and disappearances in our region

By Richard Guttridge | Walsall | Crime | Published:

They are cases which have left the region's finest detectives frustrated after thousands of hours of exhaustive investigation.

And today the Express & Star launches a special investigation into some of the Black Country's most shocking and baffling unsolved murders.

From the young mother who disappeared without a trace and the newly-engaged Wolves fan stabbed outside a city centre nightclub to the father whose remains were found at the side of a motorway 25 miles from his home seven years after going missing.

These cases are very different but they all share one thing in common. No-one has ever been held responsible for their deaths.

Through fresh interviews with heartbroken family members who have had to try to rebuild their lives without securing justice for their loved ones or, in some cases, ever knowing what happened to them, as well as ex-detectives and criminal experts, the E&S explores how these killers got away and what chance there is of them ever being caught.

Top, clockwise, Natalie Putt, Keelan Wilson, Surjit Takhar, Tom Kirwan and Sarah Bowdler

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Much-loved pensioner Sarah Bowdler was brutally murdered at her Walsall home nearly 30 years ago and perhaps apart from the community where she lived her death and the subsequent manhunt may have disappeared from the public's consciousness.

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It's cold cases such as these where there appears to be little hope of unearthing the killer as so much time has passed but, with advances in technology and people potentially still holding crucial information, police chiefs always remain hopeful.

Schoolboy Keelan Wilson was stabbed to death in Wolverhampton just 15 months ago. An investigation is ongoing and detectives remain hopeful they are close to a breakthrough.

Tom Kirwan was another Wolverhampton stab victim, knifed outside a club while on a night out with friends seven years ago. His family have faced a terrible ordeal and, even in this age of wall-to-wall CCTV, have yet to see anyone charged with murder, showing cases that might appear cut and dried are not always simple to crack.

There are then the cases which are shrouded in mystery and intrigue and taken on an almost mythical status over the years.

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One of the most high-profile missing person cases of recent times in the Black Country is that of Natalie Putt.

The 17-year-old new mother vanished from her Lower Gornal home in 2003 and no trace of her has been seen since.

Fresh searches in the area and a recent inquest have kept the case in the public eye as theories over what happened to her abound.

For seven years Surjit Takhar was a missing person after disappearing from his Oldbury flat. That all changed when his remains were found next to the M54 in Shropshire. But the location and condition of his body only led to more questions which, up to now, have gone unanswered.

They are some of the region's biggest cases which have gone unsolved and starting today the E&S delves to the very heart of these murders to examine what hope there is of their killers ever being brought to justice.

If you have any information on any of these cases call police on 101.

Alternatively, contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111 or at crimestoppers-uk.org

Each day this week we will be taking an in-depth look at these cases, starting today with the disappearance of Natalie Putt.

Richard Guttridge

By Richard Guttridge
Investigations Editor - @RichG_star

Investigations Editor for the Express & Star.

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