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Cold Case Forensics “The Murder of Rachel Nickell” (ITV Thursday 2 February 2023)



Cold Case Forensics

Cold Case Forensics airs a new episode tonight Thursday 2 February 2023 on ITV.

“The Murder of Rachel Nickell” Dr. Angela recounts how her group assisted in solving the murder of Rachel Nickell, whose body was discovered on Wimbledon Common in 1992.

Rachel’s body was discovered with her three-year-old son Alex clinging to her side. SShe’d also been sexually assaulted. Initially, police were looking into a man called Colin Stagg who was said to resemble a suspect photofit.

The detectives were so sure that Stagg was guilty that they sent an undercover female police officer into a love relationship with him. However, Stagg was innocent of the murder, and the judge’s criticism of the police’s techniques led to the collapse of his trial, prompting the police to bring in Dr. Gallop and his team to reexamine the evidence.

She expressed disbelief at the scant DNA evidence obtained from swabs and tapings taken from Rachel’s body: “When we were faced with a sample that hadn’t given any DNA results at all, when it really should at least have given the result from Rachel herself in this intimate part of her body, then we knew that something was very wrong. You can’t have that sort of finding without finding a proper explanation for it. You can’t have a loose end like that. Forensic scientists don’t like loose ends.”

Forensic profiler Andy McDonald and his team spent over two years developing a new method that would allow the DNA search to continue after Angela’s body was found. An enormous breakthrough in the case was made when DNA enhancement revealed a match to DNA recovered on Rachel’s jeans.

Andy says: “We went through all the different people that the police had as people of interest and there was only a match to one individual. Everyone else was excluded. And that match was to a man called Robert Napper.”

Forensic ties between the crime scene and Napper’s apartment, including a shoe print, helped Dr. Angela’s team identify Napper as the leading suspect in the case.

To the charge of manslaughter in the death of Rachel Nickell, Robert Napper pled guilty on the grounds of diminished responsibility in December 2008. Angela says: “There was satisfaction in knowing that someone who committed this absolutely horrendous crime had been identified and justice had been done insofar as it ever could be for Rachel and her family.”

Airdate: Thursday 2 February 2023 at 9.00pm on ITV.

Season 1 Episode 1

Featured Image Credit: ITV