The 1997 Murder of English School Girl Billie-Jo Jenkins

Billie-Jo JenkinsIn 1997, Billie-Jo Jenkins resided with her foster family in Hastings, England, a coastal town about 1.5 hours southeast of London. Her biological parents could not raise her properly as her father was in prison and her mother was a heavy drinker. So, in 1992, Billie-Jo was sent to live with the Jenkins family (no relation). Billie-Jo knew Annie Jenkins from school.

When Jenkins and his social-worker wife answered a newspaper advert seeking new foster parents, Billie-Jo was placed with them in the family home in West Ham, east London. She was already a school friend of the couple’s eldest daughter.

In 1992, Jenkins secured the post of deputy headteacher at William Parker boys’ school in Hastings. As the family made plans to move, Billie-Jo pleaded to go with them. They agreed and it seemed a wonderful new beginning for the youngster.

She had become part of a large family in an apparently stable home. She had her own room in the new house in Hastings and a telephone line allowing her to maintain contact privately with her natural family.

It was felt that Billie-Jo had coped well with the transition to her new life, and just days before her murder, the Jenkinses obtained a residence order for her – one more step towards adoption (Daily Mail).

Everything seemed fine in the Jenkins household until February 15, 1997. That’s when 13-year-old Billie-Jo was beaten to death with an 18-inch tent spike. She had been home alone painting the back patio doors when she was attacked.

An autopsy determined there was no evidence of sexual assault. A small piece of a black bin liner had been forced into Billie-Jo’s nostril. She had been struck nine times in the head. The hits were random but close in proximity to one another. There was bruising and some abrasions to her forearms; likely defensive wounds that occurred when she may have crossed her arms in front of herself for protection. Week-old bruising was found around her wrists and forearms.

Suspicion soon fell on her foster father. Sion Jenkins claimed he had just returned from a shopping trip with two of his four daughters, Annie and Lottie, and found Billie-Jo in a pool of blood. Blood spots found on his jacket were consistent with the victim’s blood.

lottiejenkins
Lottie Jenkins @DailyMail

Police alleged that Sion was a violent man who killed Billie-Jo in a fit of rage and frustration.

On March 14th, Sion was officially charged with murder. Trial began April 1998.

Sion Jenkins
Sion Jenkins

On July 2, 1998, Sion was convicted of Billie-Jo’s murder and sentenced to life in prison.  According to BBC, the jury of eight men and four women at Lewes Crown Court decided by a unanimous verdict that Jenkins, a man with no previous convictions, was guilty of the brutal murder.

His conviction was based on 158 microscopic blood spots found on the shirt he was wearing the day of the murder. Prosecutors believed this could only have occurred if he killed Billie-Jo. Defense attorneys disagreed. Jenkins said he got the spots from attending to the dying girl and a bubble of blood burst in her nose. Experts for the defense confirmed this was possible and likely. With that being said, experts for the prosecution said otherwise. Of course. 😉

There is also the three-minute window of opportunity prosecutors say is when Sion killed the young girl. Sion and the girls returned to the house briefly after Lottie’s music lesson. Sion alone went into the house, leaving the girls in the car. About three minutes later, he returned to the car and drove off. This short time period when he was inside the house without the girls is when he allegedly killed Billie-Jo. All three returned 15 minutes later and found the girl dead on the floor. Sion has always denied killing the girl, and claims that after he and the girls found Billie-Jo, a strange man was in his hallway. He thought that maybe he was a cop, but in hindsight, believes this man was his foster daughter’s killer. The man actually spoke to Sion, saying, “The girl would be alright.”

On September 15, 1999, Channel 4’s Trial and Error television show reported that a mentally disturbed man was seen in the area of the Jenkins home on the day of Billie-Jo’s murder, further casting doubt on Sion’s conviction. This man became known as Mr. B at the trial. According to The Guardian, Brian Kent, who runs a guesthouse on the road where the Jenkins family lived, told the Old Bailey that Mr B rang his doorbell at about 3pm on the day of the murder. He said: “We had a rather confused conversation and it was obvious that he had mental health problems.” Suggesting he might find accommodation in the center of the town, Mr Kent pointed the man in the direction of the Jenkins’ home.

The Guardian further reported that on the final day of Mr Jenkins’s defense, the jury heard from two witnesses who said they saw Mr B on a bench in a park opposite the Jenkins’ house, on the day of the murder. Samantha Mott, of Chelmsford, Essex, told the jury she was walking in the park with her grandparents. “He stared at us as we walked by,” she said. “He was rubbing his nose and making a snorting noise. It made me feel uncomfortable.” A few minutes later she saw an ambulance going past.

Mr. B was eventually restrained and taken to the police station.

Two  officers described seeing Mr. B holding part of a blue plastic bag up to his nose as he lay on the bench in the police cell in a “fetal position”. They later found two more pieces of plastic in his underpants during a strip search, according to The Guardian.

Unbelievably, this man was ruled out as a suspect by police in the young girl’s murder.

I can not find any information on whether or not the small piece of bin liner found in Billie-Jo’s nostril matched the ones found with Mr. B.

An appeal failed in 1999 but a second appeal was successful and a retrial was ordered by the Court of Appeal in 2004. Sion’s ex-wife, Lois, testified against him in court, saying that he physically abused her and her daughters, and Billie-Jo. Sion has always denied he ever abused anyone. That retrial lasted three months, and the jury was unable to reach a verdict. A second retrial was called. In February 2006, he was cleared of her murder.

Interestingly, Annie did not attend any of the trials or testify against or for her father. However, Lottie did take the stand and admitted that she was confused by some memories of February 15, 1997 and of what she told police afterwards.

Jenkins has maintained his innocence ever since the murder and his story has never changed.

In 2002, Lois Jenkins took their four daughters to Tasmania. The girls do not have contact with Sion.

In 2008, Sion wrote a book about the case style=. (This is an affiliate link, which means I get paid a few $$$ if you purchase this book through my link)

Possible Suspects

  • Billie-Jo’s biological family believe Antoni Imiela, a convicted serial rapist, may have killed her. According to the family, Billie-Jo said some guy in a black leather jacket had been stalking her, beginning in December 1996. Imiela wore a black leather jacket at the time. He was attracted to girls her age. He also liked to intimidate and beat his victims with unusual weapons, and he even put a bin liner over the head of one of his victims. Imiela  lived 20 miles away at the time of the murder, but had family and friends in Hastings.
  • The mentally disturbed man seen outside the Jenkins home around the time of the murder.
  • The stalker Billie-Jo mentioned in December 1996. Who was he? Why was he following her?

True Crime Diva’s Thoughts

I honestly do not believe that Scion murdered Billie-Jo. Just because he had these blood SPOTS on his shirt doesn’t mean he killed her. And quite frankly, if he had killed her, there would have been a hell of a lot more blood on his shirt than there was. But there is also this: prosecutors and police claim he killed Billie-Jo in that 3-minute window. Yet, his girls never mentioned if blood was on his shirt when he returned to the car OR if he had changed his shirt completely. Say what? If he had killed the girl, one of those two things would have surely happened, right?  NO mention of blood on Sion’s skin either. He wouldn’t have had time to clean up anything.

Right after the police started zooming in on Sion, they told him that he could’t be in Hastings where the murder took place, and that he had to leave. WTF? Here in the States, the last thing police want a suspect to do is leave town for the simple fact he or she might flee and never be found. That is some messed up shit right there, folks! It makes you wonder a bit about the local police in Hastings.

Sion has never once changed his story and has always maintained his innocence.

What about Lois? Did she return to the house after Sion and two of her daughters left, and kill the girl? Is Lois covering up for one of her girls?

Why wasn’t Lois ever open to the fact that another person could have killed her foster daughter? Like Mr B? I read where Sion and Lois were so worried about intruders breaking into their home that they installed security lights and fitted windows installed. So why didn’t she consider even for a moment that it was an intruder?

There were no signs of rape, so in my opinion, that rules out Antoni Imiela as a likely suspect. He took great pleasure in raping his victims. That’s why he attacked them. Billie-Jo’s family once stated that if he tried, she would have fought back, and that could be why she wasn’t raped. Well, she would not have won. He would have beat and threatened her had she resisted.  He would not have left that house without raping her. A 13-year-old girl would obey especially after receiving threats. But I really think if it was Imiela, he would have taken her out of the home, so he would not be caught by family members coming home. At least, that would be the smart thing to do.

Another reason I don’t believe Imiela killed her is this:  he never killed his victims, only raped and severely beat them. Why would he kill her but not the others? It doesn’t make sense. Not to say that he could’t have killed her, but why would he just kill her and not his other victims? Why didn’t he rape her? He did almost kill one victim, and maybe that was the intent, I don’t know. But I do know that a majority of his crimes occurred after Billie-Jo’s murder. And they were RAPES.

Not only that, but I have not read anything that states whether or not Sion identified Imiela as the man in his hallway, if that story is true.  I don’t think you would easily forget his face, considering the events that took place afterwards.

As far as the leather jacket goes, well that’s just a silly connection because many people wore leather jackets in the 80s and 90s. Just because Imiela had one doesn’t mean he killed her.

I think it’s more likely that this Mr. B was the one responsible for Billie-Jo’s murder. There was only a small piece of liner found in the girl’s nostril. Mr. B had a small piece of liner in his nose before he was restrained that day in the park. Not to mention the other pieces he had on him.

How this man was ruled out as a suspect is beyond me. How on earth could he have been? Are the Hastings police a bunch of idiots? Did they try to get fingerprints or DNA off the bin liner found in Billie-Jo’s nose? Did they compare the bin liner found in Billie-Jo’s nose to the liners found on Mr. B? Were they the same brand/type?

Imiela placed a WHOLE bin liner on only ONE of his victim’s HEAD. He didn’t shove pieces of it up her nose.

What about the murder weapon? Where did it come from? Did it belong to the Jenkins? Did police check for fingerprints?

I also wouldn’t rule out the possibility that this was a lot closer to home, perhaps committed by a female. Someone who knew Billie-Jo and knew she would be home alone. Someone who hated her and was jealous of her. This case does kind of have female written on it. No rape. Billie-Jo was not abducted. How would a stranger know she was by herself?

I could go on and on about this case, but I’ll stop here. I hope this case is solved one day, for Billie-Jo’s sake. She deserves justice and her killer deserves life in prison.

There is TONS of info on this case so no guarantees on accuracy of information here. If you want to read more detailed info on the case, just Google it.

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Author: truecrimediva

True crime blogger

  • Chlo

    in my opinion as there was a pool of blood I would say if there is more than one person it would be easier to clean up so I think I could of been the two younger daughters and the father

  • Alice

    I think Levi Bellfield should at least be considered. This just reminds me of his hammer attacks.

    • Hi Alice! I had not heard of Bellfield until you commented so I looked him up. You’re right! He definitely should be considered in Billie-Jo’s murder. Very similar to the girls he murdered.

  • karl

    if it was him it could of been a cocky 13 yr old girls back chat and intuitive yet misplaced remarks that sent him on one … and he hit her and then left house with kids and returned to omg… look whats happened .. who was there to look after her anyway after school?

  • superunknown

    There’s a strange man in your house with your thirteen year old daughter so you decide to leave and drive around? DO I STUTTER!

  • Manda

    Fabulously written as always. Do you think the foster mom had more to do with it? Maybe I’m just cynical these days, but something about her statements bothers me.

    • Thank you, Manda! 🙂 You know, I would not rule that out. I wondered that myself!