It should have been a routine Monday morning jog.
Margaret Muller had probably run the same route through Victoria Park in Hackney, east London, many times. Then aged 27, she lived near the eastern edge of the park, in a studio at a converted factory in Wallis Road, Hackney Wick. The UK had been her home since 1998, when she moved from the US to study at the Slade School of Fine Art, part of University College London.
That morning, on the 3 February, 2003, she was wearing a pair of black leggings, a green fleece top, a pink woolly hat and grey trainers.
At around 8.30am her screams were heard by other members of the public as she was stabbed several times by an as-yet-unidentified attacker.
Fellow joggers found her lying fatally injured on a path between the rose gardens and the children’s play area. She died shortly afterwards despite their attempts to provide first aid.
A postmortem examination later confirmed the cause of death was multiple stab wounds.
Nobody has ever been charged with the murder despite national publicity and repeated police appeals, including a major reconstruction involving more than 100 witnesses and the offer of a £20,000 reward for information leading to a prosecution. It remains one of the most notorious unsolved cases in the UK.
On the 20th anniversary of the murder the Metropolitan Police issued a further appeal for information and confirmed they still believed that Margaret was most likely targeted by a robber.
Several appeals have focused on trying to identify a person seen walking past The Victoria Park pub (later named The Britannia from 2008 and the People’s Park Tavern from 2013) and entering the park through the Queen’s Gate entrance at around 7.10am.
This may or may not be the same person who was seen sprinting out of the park through the same entrance between 8.30am and 8.40am, shortly after the murder, and running towards the Gascoyne Estate.
Officers continue to appeal to anyone who was in the park on 3 February 2003, and who has yet to come forward, to contact them.
They are also keen to hear from anyone who may have seen anything suspicious in or around the Gascoyne Estate on the day of the murder.
Whilst detectives retain an open mind about the possible motive of the attack, intelligence suggests that Margaret could have been the victim of a failed robbery attempt.
Anyone who can assist is asked to contact the Specialist Casework Team on 0208 785 8267; if you wish to remain anonymous please call Crimestoppers 0800 555 111.
Metropolitan Police appeal in February 2023
Detectives have looked into several suspects involved in similar knife attacks, including the murder of Monica Watts in Clissold Park, Stoke Newington, north London, ten months later in December 2003. However the killer in that case, Elias Cecchetti, then aged 15, was in custody at the time of the attack on Margaret Muller. Press reports also named convicted killer Christopher Olokun as a potential suspect after he was questioned by police in 2009 while serving a life sentence for the murder of Bernard Hegarty during a mugging in Bethnal Green in August 2004.
In 2023, DCI Amanda Greig, from the Met’s Specialist Casework Team looking at unsolved murder investigations, said: “It is now 20 years since Margaret’s shocking murder – an attack that left an indelible mark on the consciousness of a generation. I know people may think that too much time has passed for someone to be held to account for this heinous crime, but that is simply not the case.
“We are very keen to receive new information that, for whatever reason, someone has felt unable to provide previously. I want to appeal to anyone who has information that could help us to identify the person responsible for Margaret’s murder to do the right thing and come forward.
“For two decades, Margaret’s family have had to endure the agony of not seeing her killer face justice – this is something no family should have to live with and I urge anyone who can help to get in contact immediately.”