Marian Hartley

Whilst doing an interview for my family tree research I was told about a relative of mine who was murdered in the 1950s or 1960s. This page documents what I’ve found, and have been told, about Marian Hartley, a 15-year-old schoolgirl who was killed by Joseph Kiely in Walthamstow in 1966.

If you’ve got anything to add, or disagree with what I’ve included below, please leave a comment at the bottom, after the tabbed content.

Marian Hartley

Grainy black and white photo of Marian Hartley
Marian Hartley was born 16th February 1951 at North Middlesex Hospital, Pymmes Park, Middlesex and was the daughter of Eric and Maud (née Faulkner) Hartley. She had three siblings: Barbara, Derek and Sandra. Had she been alive today, she would be my first cousin twice removed – she was my nan’s cousin, Marian’s grandmother is my great great grandmother.

Newspaper Coverage

Having died in the early hours of Sunday morning, 24th July 1966, Marian’s death was reported on the front page of the Daily Mirror national newspaper on Monday, 25th July 1966:
Newspaper article from 1966
Full image (PDF) of the Daily Mirror, front page, 1966-07-25
The transcription is:

Hunt in forest after girl, 15, is killed

By Mirror Reporter

Squads of police searched the fringe of a forest yesterday after a blonde schoolgirl has been attacked and killed.
The schoolgirl, 15-year-old Marion Hartley was attacked as she walked home from a dance at Chingford, Essex, after midnight.
Sounds of a struggle were heard by some of her neighbours in Forest Glade – a dim lit road with houses on one side and the edge of Epping Forest on the other.


Soon afterwards, 250 police with dogs began searching the forest.
Marion, a fourth-form pupil at Walthamstow High School was found dead in a bramble-patch, less than 100 yards from her home.
The police kept searching. Several men seen in the area were questioned.
As daybreak came, anglers began arriving to fish in a pond near where the dead girl had been found. They were turned away.
After five hours, the search was called off.
Last night, a 20-year-old man was charged with murder.
He will appear in court at Walthamstow today.

The article doesn’t mention the cause of her death, although my initial source said that she may have been strangled and that the person charged with murder may have been her boyfriend at the time. They also said they thought she had just got off a bus, but that seems to contradict the article.

A follow-up article was given on page 6 of the Daily Mirror the next day:

Newspaper article from 1966

Full image (PDF) of the Daily Mirror, page 6, 1966-07-26

The transcription is:

Forest Death: Man Remanded

A man accused of murdering 15-year-old schoolgirl Marion Hartley was said yesterday to have told the police: “I was very drunk and didn’t know what I was doing.”
The man, 20-year-old Joseph Kiely, of no fixed address, is alleged to have killed Marion early on Sunday near her home in Forest Glade, Chingford, Essex – at the end of Epping Forest.
Yesterday, Detective Superintendent Jim Graney told the magistrates at Stratford, East London, that he spoke to Kiely on Sunday evening at a police station.
Superintendent Graney said he told Kiely:
“As a result of a post mortem examination of Marion Hartley, whom you took into the forest last night, I have ascertained that she died of manual strangulation and suffocation.”
Kiely, who comes from Dublin, was remanded in custody for eight days. He was allowed to see his two sisters before leaving the court building.

Other Evidence

The following information has been kindly provided by Lynne Kiff:

I was 11 when Marion died. Her father, who I only knew as Mr Hartley, had a shop in either Orford Road, Walthamstow or one of the adjoining roads. His shop, if my memory serves me well, was an electrical shop that sold televisions and radios. I seem to remember a white sign over the shop that said Hartleys and I think Mr Hartley did repairs. He was (to me) a tall thin man with white hair. I don’t remember seeing his wife. My mum was quite friendly with the family and was often in the shop.

All I remember from the time of her death were the conversations in our house at the time. It was the most shocking thing and actually is different from the above news story. Mum said that she had gone to a school dance and that there had been a bit of an argument between Marion and her parents, they had wanted to pick her up after the dance and she had showed off, saying that she was old enough to come home by herself, they had in the end relented.

The other thing where it differs is that my parents were saying she had been found hanged from a tree.
Quite obviously her parents were devastated. I particularly remember this time because a short time afterwards Mr Hartley gave my mum Marion’s clothes, school blazer etc. I refused point blank to wear them and my mum eventually threw them away – I remember the shop being closed for a while but I have the impression that he then reopened and was working in there but I don’t remember how long for.

Lynne goes on to say:

I’m not sure if she was actually hanging or ‘suspended’, sort of hooked into the tree, if you can understand that, but as I said, it was conversations around the event so may be misleading, but it still is something my mum was always adamant about.

I do have a little more background information for you, although sadly not in relation to her death. We live in Chingford now, my husband has always lived in Chingford. He had a paper round with Marian, together they were employed by Bill Lands newsagents in Hatch Lane, Chingford. My husband was around 14yrs old at the time and used to be at the house in Forest Glade often with Marion and fondly remembers picking gooseberries with her in the garden and ‘hanging out’ together with her at Highams Park boating lake. He said her character was very bubbly and she was always laughing and happily playing around and that her character was very much of a tom boy, and he remembers she usually wore shorts and t shirts in the summer.

Laura has said that:

There’s an article by Matthew Spicer regarding the murder of Marian Hartley. A photocopy of it was given to my aunt to read because the murderer Joseph Kiely, is from Tipperary Town. He lived across the road from her when they were young. Its 3 pages long with pictures of the incident – her jacket, shoes, Joseph and where it happened etc. There’s also a picture of a letter she wrote to the Walthamstow and Waltham Forest Guardian on the Saturday before it happened. They received it on the Monday morning the story broke. She was collecting Green Shield Stamps to buy a mini bus for her school. She hoped the newspaper would help by promoting it.

I’ve since got a copy of the magazine Laura refers to, so will uploads more details here when possible. I’ve spoken to Matthew Spicer, and he confirms that the images and details come from the open court report.

Joseph Kiely

Joseph A. Kiely apparently grew up in Tipperary, but later had moved to Dublin, before coming over to the UK in early July 1966.

The transcription from the article above, which appeared on page 8 of The Times on Saturday August 13, 1966:

Girls’ Death In Forest

Irishman charged with murder

An Irishman seized a schoolgirl, aged 15, pulled her into Epping Forest and strangled her, it was alleged at Stratford Magistrates Court, E., yesterday.
Joseph Kiely, aged 20, unemployed, of no fixed address, appeared on a charge of murdering Marion Joan Hartley, of Forest Glade, Walthamstow, E.
Mr. Philip Radcliffe, for the prosecution, said Kiely told the police: “It is me. I was drunk. I did not know what I was doing. I just saw the girl and I grabbed her and pulled her into the forest. It just came over me. She went all limp and funny.”
Kiely was said to have told the police that he was frightened. Later he went back to have a look, but the police were there, and he went away.
Mr. Radcliffe said Kiely’s home was in Ireland and most of his life had been spent there. He came to England early in July.

With Friend At Dance

Mr. Radcliffe said the girl went with another girl friend to a dance at Woodford memorial hall on Saturday, July 23. She left with her friend.
They parted at 11.25 p.m. At 11.55 p.m. she was seen by a man at Forest Glade. The man heard some sort of commotion outside his house and when he looked out of the window he saw someone carrying something into the forest.
He telephoned to the police, who later found in the roadway a bottle of beer, the girl’s shoes, and a black pullover. Thirty-eight feet into the forest they found a coat, and 10ft. farther on a body. The girl died of asphyxia from manual strangulation.
Through Mr. John Daybell, his solicitor, Kiely pleaded Not Guilty and reserved his defence. He was sent for trial at the Central Criminal Court.

Six weeks later, on Tuesday 27th September 1966, another article appeared in The Times on page 9:

The transcription is:

Fifteen years for forest killing

Joseph Kiely, aged 20, Irish labourer, of no fixed home, who according to the prosecution dragged a girl aged 15 from near her home into Epping Forest where he strangled her after indecently assaulting her, was sentenced at the Central Criminal Court yesterday to 15 years’ imprisonment.
He pleaded Not Guilt to a charge of murdering the girl, Marion Joan Hartley, of Forest Glade, Chingford, E., but Guilty of manslaughter on the ground of diminished responsibility. The plea was accepted.

The National Archives appear to have two records for Kiely – one record covering the dismissed charge of murder, and one closed record covering the eventual charge of manslaughter. I’ve asked for an estimated cost to send me all of the first record, and put in a Freedom of Information request on the second one, although I’m not expecting the record to be opened. also references Kiely’s conviction.

Reference on Till Death Us Do Part?

Someone left an anonymous comment that said that the killing was mentioned in Series 1 Episode 6 of Till Death Us Do Part. This was a British comedy that started in the 1960s.

The episode got wiped by the BBC as per their policy at the time, but here is an audio-only version, cued up right after the end of the opening music. Listen to it for 30 seconds.

This episode was broadcast on the day the killing was reported on the front page of the Daily Mirror, the day after she was killed. Till Death Us Do Part was recorded in front of a live audience, but I’m not sure if when that recording was made, or if it was shown live.

If it timings work, then it’s possible that the episode does indeed refer to Marian’s death, as I’m not aware of any other “naked women” murders around the Epping area leading up to the broadcast date.


  1. zacko says

    hi, just like to add, i know exactly where joe kiely lives, he is still alive and has been a free man for a very long time

    • says

      There is indeed a mention of a naked murdered girl at Epping (listen to the first minute of This episode was broadcast the day after Marian was Killed, and the day on which it was first reported in the national papers. I know the show was recorded in front of a live audience, but it might also have been recorded on the day it was broadcast, or even done completely live – in which case, the timings are too coincidental for it not be a reference to Marian.

      Thanks for the fascinating lead!

  2. Martin says

    Dear Gary,
    I remember, in my childhood, becoming aware that a Joe Kiely had returned to live in my neighbourhood in Tipperary Town, Ireland. It wasnt what one might consider a disadvantaged area. At that time it was similar to many other working class areas both in Britain and in Ireland. It was populated, in the main, by decent hard-working people most of whom had brothers and sisters working and rearing their own families in England.

    Rumours abounded that the same Joe Kiely had been released from a British prison but, with no internet and little newspaper coverage we, the younger ones, were never too sure of his crime, its nature or his sentence. Im sure our parents were better informed. We were always just told to keep our distance from Kiely.

    One day, when I was older and while out hunting, I happened across a deserted farmhouse. Looking around inside I came across an old and yellowing newspaper which described Marians murder at the hands of Kiely and his conviction and sentence.

    People in our neighbourhood always kept their distance from him and, even though he lived less than 60 yards from my house, I never looked at or acknowledged him. I was aware that he was an above-average artist and that he spent most of his time indoors. Not many publicans in the town would allow him onto their premises. Actually, an unusual anecdote: When, in my mid-twenties I called into a respectable local pub I was surprised to see Kiely drinking alone at the bar. I ignored him when he attempted conversation. When I had an opportunity I beckoned the young barman, who had no idea whom he was serving. I told him to tell the owner that he had a very unwelcome patron on the premises. The owner, a hulk of a man, was soon on the scene. He took one look at Kiely, uttered not a word, but in one smooth move, he lifted him by the throat, hauled him out the front door and deposited him in the gutter. A most appropriate place for this individual.

    Im sure it must add further insult to the already awful injury suffered by the families of the deceased when they see convicted killers released early from prison. If it is of any small comfort I can honestly state that Kiely has always been, and will remain, a social pariah. He has a nothing life, no friends and hopefully he will forever suffer the consequences of his actions.

    May Marians soul rest in eternal peace.

  3. says

    Dear Gary,
    I am profoundly touched. I was in a perfectly normal, quite happy mood focused on the pile of tasks at hand and ploughing forward and now at a total stop with tears streaming down my face. I don’t know what prompted me to search Marian’s name at this moment in time. I think of her from time to time quite randomly. I don’t know why. I never knew her. I should have known her. That said, things happen to people all the time that causes their lives to end earlier than they should. Maybe it’s the way she died. I don’t know. I am Sandra’s daughter and Marian would have been my auntie. She died precisely ten years before I was born. My mother said that Marian had already decided that she was very much looking forward to having a family and being a mother. It is a very sad thing.
    Best wishes, Sara (My surname is now Llewellyn, however I use Hartley as my stage name for work in respect for my mother and I think in a small part to Marian.)

  4. Karen says

    Dear Gary

    So many years later, and I still remember Marian. I was 6 when she died and lived in Forest Glade about 100 yards from where she so sadly lost her life. I believe she was found by or hanging from a tree. This tree was popular with all the kids that lived in Forest Glade, it had a low hanging branch from which a rope or a swing was attached. We all used to play there often with Marian. My fondest memory of Marian was when she came home from school on her bike, she would often let me sit on the handlebars and cycle up and down the road. After her death, the kids in Forest Glade did not run free in the forest as we used to, our parents would not allow it. Several families, including mine moved shortly afterwards but her memory lives on.

    Originally from 52 Forest Glade

  5. Andy says

    Hi, Maud Hartley was my great Auntie, I used to see her and Uncle Eric at my Nan and Grandads house in New Southgate , and sometimes we used to over to Forest Glade ,where I always coveted Uncle Eric’s valve radio in the front room !. It wasn’t until I was a teenager that I knew about their sadness and the tragedy of poor Marian .I am 52 now.

    • Jan says

      Hi, I am Andy’s Auntie and Marian was my cousin. We spent a lot of time together as she was only a month younger than me. Our families used to go to Jaywick, near Clacton, on holiday along with Marian’s sister Sandra. Our families used to visit each other regularly and after Uncle Eric died Aunty Maud and my mum Mary visited each other every two weeks right up until Aunty Maud died.

      We also visited another Sister Barbara and her family in Welwyn Garden City. Brother Derek I met but only a couple of times as he lived in Australia.

      It was such a sad time when Marian died, I remember hearing about it on a Sunday evening after a cricket match. As I was too young to go into the pub with Mum & Dad and the team, me and another child were sitting in the coach (in those days not everyone had cars !!!!!!) with another girl, the coach driver had left the radio on when it came over the radio. As you can see I will never forget it. Marian would have been 64 now.

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