The Horrifying Murder of 16-Year-Old Suzanne Capper

The Horrifying Murder of 16-Year-Old Suzanne Capper

Capper died after spending an entire week getting tortured by a group of people she trusted.

Coming from a broken home, Suzanne Capper was the kind of a girl who had never experienced love. She never knew her real father, and her mother left her when she got divorced. She used to live with her stepfather with her elder sister Michelle Capper. The people around her described Suzanne as a “high-spirited, well-mannered girl” who just wanted to be loved.

When Suzanne was 16 years old, in 1992, she started missing school. Her teachers described her attendance in school as “erratic”. Around this time, she started couch surfing at Jean Powell’s house, a 26-year-old woman with three kids living at Langworthy Road. Powell used to babysit Suzanne Capper when she was ten years old.

The House of Evil on Langworthy Road

Jean Powell’s home was a center for drug dealing, stolen cars trading, and sex parties. So, her house was frequented by a lot of people who enjoyed getting into trouble. Suzanne’s elder sister, Michelle Capper, had also lived with Jean Powell but had moved out after two months because of the criminal activities that went on around her house. Suzanne Capper’s stepfather John stated: “I tried to stop Suzanne from going there, but she had a very strong will,” because even he had a bad feeling about that place. John has repeatedly referred to Jean Powell’s house as a “house of evil”.

This house is where Suzanne got acquainted with the group that would torture her for days and eventually killed her.

Jean Powell’s friend Bernadette McNeilly lived a few houses down from hers and had three children. She was a known drug addict and frequented Powell’s place so much that both the friends decided for McNeilly to move in with her kids to Powell’s home one day.

Suzanne got acquainted with McNeilly and others at Powell’s place. 29-year-old Glynn Powell, who was Jean’s estranged husband, also frequented the house. He was a convict for robbery, theft, and other troublesome behaviors. Anthony Dudson, 17, was McNeilly’s boyfriend, but he was also known to sleep with Jean. Jeffrey Leigh was Jean’s 27-year-old boyfriend. There was also Clifford Hayes, 18, who was Jean’s younger brother and Suzanne’s ex-boyfriend.

Suzanne’s elder sister recalls how Everyone at the house bullied Suzanne. They used to take advantage of Suzanne’s kind and complacent nature. She was not scared of them, yet she let everyone take advantage of her in a “good-natured way”. The reason being that everyone in the house provided her with the attention she had always wanted so badly. She saw all of them as her friends and didn’t have any outside that house.

Powell had also convinced Suzanne to work, only to take away her entire earning. She only used to give Suzanne £5 ($6.88) per week for her personal expenses.

Why was Suzanne Tortured?

According to Michelle Capper, in the autumn of 1992, Suzanne had shown up at her mother Elizabeth’s doorstep because she was beaten badly by the group at Powell’s house. However, her mother turned her away because her boyfriend would disapprove of Suzanne living with them, according to her. Suzanne had no place to go, so she returned to Jean Powell’s house.

After her return, the routine bullying began to transform into something much more sinister for Suzanne Capper. The group used to come up with many accusations against Suzanne. They claimed that Suzanne had stolen an expensive pink coat. This accusation was followed by a series of beatings for her.

In December 1992, things went from bad to worse when Jean Powell, McNeilly, Glynn, and Dudson got infected with pubic lice and all of them collectively blamed Suzanne Capper for it. After the first round of beatings, Suzanne went back to her stepfather, John’s, house.

Her Kidnapping followed by a Week of Bloody Torture

On December 7th, 1992, the group tricked Suzanne into believing that the boy she had a crush on wanted to meet her, and they were going to take her to meet him. Instead of taking her to the boy she fancied, they took her back to the house on Langworthy Road. The rest of the individuals held her down while Glynn Powell forcefully shaved her head, eyebrows, and pubic hair. The youngest offender, Anthony Dudson, put a plastic bag over her head and hit her on her head multiple times. They only took it off when she went unconscious due to the lack of oxygen.

They had tied her to the bed in the house’s dining room where she used to sleep and physically assaulted her further. They used to beat her up with belt buckles and wooden spoons.

The group then forced her to sleep in a wooden cupboard. When Suzanne kept screaming, and Powell and McNeilly’s kids started to get scared by the constant screaming, Suzanne was taken to Bernadette McNeilly’s empty house down on Langworthy Road.

The next five days were spent constantly assaulting her in the house. She was burned with cigarettes and injected with amphetamines. She was then tied to an upright bed frame and was subjected to painful physical and sexual assault. The group would constantly taunt her by saying, “Chucky is coming to play”. They also forced her to listen to rave music on full volume by outing headphones on her. She was given a bath in a tub full of disinfectant liquid and scrubbed her body with a stiff brush until her skin started to come off.

By the end of the week, both of her arms were broken, her body was covered with burn marks, she had a few teeth missing that were pulled out forcefully, and her entire skin was red.

Suzanne’s Painful Death

On December 14th, 1992, the group stuffed her in a car’s trunk and drove 15 miles away to a secluded area. They forced the entirely naked Suzanne Capper into a ditch filled with thorns and branches. Lastly, they doused her body in petrol before setting her on fire. All the while, Bernadette McNeilly had taunted her by saying, “Burn baby, burn,” while the rest of the group laughed and left Suzanne alone to die.

When the group had left, burnt and badly bruised, Suzanne managed to escape the ditch and crawled to the nearest highway where she could ask for help. Barry Sutcliffe came across her and was able to help her. While Suzanne thanked him repeatedly, he got her to a hospital. Before slipping into a coma, Suzanne managed to name each of her attackers. Four days later, on December 18th, Suzanne died. She was identified by the only fingerprint that had survived the fire, which was a part of her thumb.

The Aftermath

The police searched Powell’s home in the garbage and found Suzanne’s hair, bloody teeth, and pliers in the garbage bag. Each of Suzanne’s murderers denied their involvement in the case until Anthony Dudson’s father convinced him to tell the police everything. After which, each of the perpetrators confessed to their part in the crime, but everyone tried to blame Suzanne’s murder on each other.

In a trial that lasted 22 days, Powell, McNeilly, Glynn, and Dudson were charged with murder, false imprisonment, and intention to cause grievous bodily harm. The adults, Powell, McNeilly, and Glynn, were given life imprisonment sentences and a possibility of parole only after 25 years. Dudson was detained for an indefinite period of time with the possibility of parole after 18 years. Clifford Hayes and Jeffrey Leigh were both sentenced to 15 and 12 years, respectively.