The 1997 Murder of English School Girl Billie-Jo Jenkins

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In 1997, Billie-Jo Jenkins, 13, 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 advertisement 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.

Jenkins secured the position of deputy headteacher at William Parker Boys’ School in 1992. As the family planned to move, Billie-Jo pleaded to go with them. They agreed, and it seemed an excellent new beginning for her.

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

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

Just days before her murder, the Jenkins’ obtained a residence order for her, which was one more step toward adoption.

An autopsy determined there was no evidence of a sexual assault. The killer had forced a small piece of a black trash can liner into Billie-Jo’s nostril and struck her nine times in the head. The hits were random but close in proximity to one another. Bruising and some abrasions covered 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 onto 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 rage and frustration.

On March 14, 1997, police officially charged Sion with murder and convicted on July 2, 1998. He was sentenced to life in prison.

Sion Jenkins
Sion Jenkins

According to BBC, the jury of eight men and four women at Lewes Crown Court decided unanimously that Jenkins, a man with no previous convictions, was guilty of the brutal murder.

His conviction was based on 158 tiny blood spots found on the shirt he was wearing on 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 blood bubble 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. He allegedly killed Billie-Jo in this short period when he was inside the house without the girls. All three returned 15 minutes later and found the girl dead on the floor. Sion has always denied killing the girl and claims that a strange man was in his hallway after he and the girls found Billie-Jo. He thought that maybe he was a cop, but he believed this man was his foster daughter’s killer in hindsight. The man 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 Jenkins home area 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 3 pm on the day of the murder.”

He said: “We had a rather confusing 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 Jenkins’ home direction.

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.” According to The Guardian, they later found two more pieces of plastic in his underpants during a strip search.

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 tiny piece of 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 the Court of Appeal ordered a retrial in 2004. Sion’s ex-wife, Lois, testified against him in court, saying he physically abused her, her daughters, and Billie-Jo. Sion has always denied he ever harmed anyone. That retrial lasted three months, and the jury could not 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 took the stand and admitted that she was confused by some memories of February 15, 1997, and what she told police afterward.

Jenkins has maintained his innocence 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, who wrote about the case in 2008.

Possible Suspects

  • Billie-Jo’s biological family believes 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, liked to intimidate and beat his victims with unusual weapons, and even put a trash can liner over one of his victims’ heads. Imiela lived 20 miles away at the time of the murder but had family and friends in Hastings.
  • The mentally disturbed man was 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 much 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 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 couldn’t be in Hastings, where the murder occurred, and that he had to leave. WTF? Here in the States, the last thing police want a suspect to do is leave town because they 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 that 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 I think 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 she would have fought back if he tried, which 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 think if it were 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 intelligent thing to do.

Another reason I don’t believe Imiela killed her is that 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 couldn’t have killed her, but why would he just kill her and not his other victims? Why didn’t he rape her? He almost killed one victim; maybe that was the intent; I don’t know. But I know that most 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. Considering the events afterward, I don’t think you would easily forget his face.

As far as the leather jacket goes, 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 Mr. B was responsible for Billie-Jo’s murder. Only a small piece of liner was 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.

I have no idea how this man was ruled out as a suspect. 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 the 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, who hated her and was jealous of her. This case does kind of have a 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 there are no guarantees on the accuracy of information here. If you want more detailed info on the case, just Google it.

9 comments

Chlo February 21, 2017 - 9:49 AM

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

Reply
truecrimediva February 22, 2017 - 1:20 PM

That is very true!

Reply
Alice March 10, 2016 - 3:30 PM

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

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truecrimediva March 11, 2016 - 7:53 AM

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.

Reply
karl August 3, 2015 - 6:20 PM

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?

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truecrimediva August 3, 2015 - 8:46 PM

Yeah that is true! Good points, thanks!

Reply
superunknown June 26, 2015 - 6:43 AM

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!

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Manda June 23, 2015 - 7:05 PM

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.

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truecrimediva June 23, 2015 - 8:22 PM

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

Reply

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True Crime Diva

True Crime Diva

I've blogged true crime since 2010, happily taking up only a tiny corner of the internet. I'm not here for attention; I'm here to tell you their stories.

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