1997 Billie Jo Jenkins Murder

From Historical Hastings
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Cause of deathMurder
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On the 15th of February, 1997, the body of 13 year old Billie Jo Jenkins was found by her adoptive father Sion Jenkins in the back garden of their house in Lower Park Road. She had been bludgeoned to death with a tent peg. Whilst Sion took his other daughters, Annie and Charlotte, out to purchase some decorating supplies, Billie Jo was painting the patio doors.

Early Childhood

Billie's childhood in East London was rather turbulent; her mother couldn't cope with her and her birth father had been imprisoned. This led to her becoming part of the Jenkins family as a foster child, aged nine - Sion being the deputy head-master at Hastings Grammar School, a position which later transpired he had secured with false credentials, and the family sharing the same surname as Billie Jo.

Police Investigation

Forensic analysis revealed microscopic particles of blood spatter on Sion's clothing and his behaviour immediately prior to the murder was thought to be suspicious by the police. A mentally ill man had also been seen in the vicinity of the house - he was arrested briefly but proved to be too unwell to be interviewed in relation to the crime. The police investigation, trials and appeals are estimated to have cost £10m. Seven hundred witness statements were taken by the police.

Arrest of Sion and Trial

As the third subject investigated for the murder, Sion was charged with the murder of Billie Jo and subsequently found guilty on the 2nd of July 1998 of the murder of Jenkins and sentenced to life imprisonment[1]. Appealing against this, forensic scientists working for Sion stated that the microscopic blood spray could possibly have been released from Billie Jo's injured airway as Jenkins moved her. The jury was unable to come to a majority verdict after 39 hours of deliberating. A second retrial was likewise unable to reach a majority verdict - Sion at this point having spent eleven days in the witness box, and at the Old Bailey in London, on 9 February 2006, Siôn Jenkins was declared in consequence not guilty[2].

No further suspects have been identified and the case remains unsolved.


On 19 January 2008, in Alexandra Park, Hastings, a memorial seat made from a locally felled oak tree by local artist Joc Hare, was dedicated to the memory of Billie-Jo. The first few words on the seat read, "Side by side or miles apart, friends are close to the heart"[3].

References & Notes

  1. "Sion Jenkins: A father betrayed?". The Independent. 24 August 2008.
  2. "Allegations cost foster father his family and career" by Sandra Laville and Laura Smith, The Guardian, 10 February 2006
  3. Friends unveil Billie-Jo memorial