Hunt for the Bunny Girl murderer11/15/2023
Hunt for the bunny girl murderer: Four unsolved killings come under the microscope in a new series from Louis Theroux’s brother Marcel…
- New true-crime documentary shines a light on largely forgotten killing spree
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When a stunning Playboy Bunny was brutally murdered in March 1975, it sent shock waves through London.
Eve Stratford, aged 21, was sexually assaulted and butchered by an assailant whose identity remains a mystery to this day.
It was a story that exposed the dark underbelly of her glamorous world (Eric Morecambe and other 70s stars were part of her social circle). When subsequent murders of young women bore similar hallmarks to her death, police believed a serial killer was on the loose.
A new true-crime documentary shines a light on this largely forgotten killing spree, unearthing new clues.
The Playboy Bunny Murder on ITV1 is written and presented by Marcel Theroux, the big brother of BAFTA-winning documentary-maker Louis and a novelist and TV presenter in his own right. Their father is legendary travel writer Paul Theroux.
The murder of Eve Stratford (pictured), aged 21, is explored in The Playboy Bunny Murder on ITV1, along with the murders of 16-year-old Lynne Weedon, 29-year-old Lynda Farrow and 27-year-old Elizabeth Parravicini
‘I grew up in 70s London and I’d never heard of these murders,’ says Marcel, 55. Once he started investigating he was compelled to delve further.
‘I thought, how can it be that these women were murdered in such extraordinarily horrible circumstances and their families never got answers?’
Eve’s murder at her flat in Leyton, east London, was so bloodcurdling – she was tied up and her head nearly severed – that one Met police officer said he’d never seen anything so horrific.
Six months later a 16-year-old schoolgirl from west London, Lynne Weedon, was celebrating finishing her O-Levels when she was raped and murdered on her way home.
Thirty years elapsed before DNA evidence revealed they had been killed by the same man.
Back in the 70s, police had also linked Eve’s death to the 1979 murder of 29-year-old Lynda Farrow, who worked in the same circles as a croupier.
The series is written and presented by novelist and TV presenter Marcel Theroux (pictured)
‘I became haunted by the stories,’ says Marcel. ‘You go into it in this intellectually curious way thinking, “This is amazing sociology. The Playboy Club was the most successful casino in Europe.” So that was fascinating.
‘But as I met people who are connected to the victims, the weight of the story began to land and I saw that there are people who’ve been carrying trauma for decades.’
Marcel had interviewed Gladys Hayes, Lynda’s late mother, in 2019. The audio, played in the series, is heartbreaking.
‘I think she’d been driven partly mad by the fact her only daughter was killed in this horrible way,’ says Marcel.
‘She never had an answer. But there’s a lot of evidence and the likelihood the perpetrator is still alive – he’d probably be in his early 70s.’
Marcel talks to former policemen involved in the case. ‘There were clearly mistakes made and evidence was lost,’ he says. ‘There’s no forensic evidence from the Lynda Farrow murder, and the knife she was murdered with vanished.’
There’s a suggestion that police wrongly fixated on an Arab businessman for Eve’s murder, missing more likely perpetrators.
‘We also look at a theory that the Yorkshire Ripper was somehow involved,’ says Marcel. ‘And we link a fourth murder to the case as well.’
Eve (right) pictured with Eric Morecambe of the double act Morecambe and Wise who was part of her social circle, along with other 70s stars
It’s widely accepted that the 1977 killing of 27-year-old Elizabeth Parravicini, in the same way as Lynne and in the same part of west London, was committed by the same man.
‘Spoiler alert – we don’t solve the case,’ says Marcel. ‘But I think we point the way to some lines of inquiry that were not followed.’
Marcel admits making the series impacted his own life. ‘My daughter is about the same age as Lynne Weedon was,’ he says.
‘I can’t go to sleep until she arrives home. I was always a bit like that, but now I’ll drive anywhere to pick her up. It’s irrational, but that’s the effect.’
- The Playboy Bunny Murder, Mon-Tue, 9pm, ITV1 and ITVX.
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