WHEN schoolgirl Billie-Jo Jenkins went to live with a foster family in Hastings, she hoped it was the beginning of a better life.
Instead, the 13-year-old girl’s life was brutally cut short when she was battered to death with an 18-inch metal tent peg in the garden of her new home on February 15, 1997.
Adoptive father Sion Jenkins was jailed for his daughter’s murder but after two searches, was officially acquitted in 2006.
Now, 25 years on, the Sussex police are carrying out a forensic review exhibits from the scene at the East Sussex home.
On that fateful afternoon in 1997, Billie-Jo was painting her backyard door when she was hit in the head at least five times in a horrific attack.
She was found dead in a pool of blood when Sion returned home from an aborted trip to a DIY store, along with his two eldest daughters.
Sion – the father of Annie, 12 at the time of the murder, Lottie, 10, Esther, 9, and Maya, 7 – has always maintained his innocence and claims a snoop may have to responsible for the murder.
Here, as we approach the 25th anniversary of Billie-Jo’s tragic death, we take a look at the questions that still need to be answered.
Time to kill?
On the day of the murder, Leon’s wife Lois, Esther, and Maya were walking and Annie and Sion went home, before driving to pick up Lottie from her clarinet lesson.
The three were only at home for three minutes before Sion took his two daughters out again, saying he wanted to go to a DIY store to buy white essential oils, to clean up after a Billie-Jo painting.
He then claimed she canceled the trip because he forgot his wallet, but the prosecution argued that he was trying to establish an alibi.
Either way, the prosecution is still based on the theory that Sion murdered his adopted daughter during the three minutes he was at home, while his daughters were in the house.
Additionally, Annie told the court she remembers saying goodbye to Billie-Jo – meaning it would all be over in seconds.
Then he will have to clean up, because he will be covered in blood, and get in the car with the girls.
Invisible blood spots
After the murder, 148 small blood stains from Billie-Jo were found on Sion Jenkins’ fleece pants and coat.
The prosecution argued that their size and distribution were consistent with “collision debris”, which was spewed out during the frenzied attack on Billie-Jo.
However, the defense argued that a small jet of blood was sprayed by Billie-Jo from her adoptive father when he came to her aid as she lay dying.
At the second trial, forensic expert Dr. Jeremy Skepper said some of the bloodstains contained white particles, which he said could have been damaged skin tissue from Billie-Jo’s scalp, but experts said Defense denied the claim.
Ahead of the third trial, Dr. Skepper concluded small pieces of bone, paint and metal may have been present in the blood stains on Sion’s pants, which appears to support the prosecution’s version of events.
But the judge said the document was filed too late and it was never heard in court.
Why is Lois stopping the kids from giving evidence?
After police told Lois about the blood stains on her husband’s clothes, she believed he was guilty.
She told police that he had “trained” the girls to tell his version of events.
During the initial trial, Lois prevented Annie and Lottie from testifying by saying they had “turned against” their father and changed their story, meaning Sion’s defense did not call for them to stand up.
During the retrial, she was charged with lying, and the defense team argued that the girls could have proven that their father didn’t have time to kill Billie-Jo.
Why didn’t Lois give evidence in the first trial?
Lois did not appear as a witness to the prosecution or defense in the first trial or Sion’s first appeal was unsuccessful.
“At the time, her silence seemed eloquent,” according to the Justice For Sion Jenkins advocates’ website.
After being convicted of murder, Lois divorced her husband and fled the country with their four biological daughters.
Since then, she has had a son with her new partner, Vincent Ives, a martial arts expert 11 years her junior, and now settled in Tasmania.
But she flew back to testify at his memorials, in 2004 and 2006.
Got a stalker?
At a news conference following Billie-Jo’s death, Sion said the family installed CCTV and security lights after being thwarted by snoopers.
“As a family, we feel insecure about snoopers,” he said.
“One time I was looking out the back window and I thought I saw movement.
“I turned on the security lights outside and caught a glimpse of someone moving. Another time I saw someone in the park staring at the house.”
Lottie, who first found Billie-Jo’s body, told police that the gate on the side of the house was closed when they left for the DIY store but opened when they returned, indicating someone had may have entered the back garden
Is the stranger with the plastic bag fetish the real killer?
One of the most bizarre details of the murder is that parts of a black binliner were “forcibly” stuffed into Billie-Jo’s nostrils.
The trial found that a mentally ill man – known as Man B – had lived around the area and was known to be a plastic bag maniac.
He was later arrested and attempted to strangle the female arresting officer.
Police observed him stuffing crumbs of a blue plastic bag up his nose, believing he had to seal openings in his body to prevent germs from entering. He was also discovered with several pieces of pockets in his pants.
On the day of the murder, the owner of a guesthouse on Jenkins Road turned him down, suggesting he try to enter the town center and point in the direction of the house.
However, he was excluded from the investigation for forensic evidence.
Whatever happened on that day 25 years ago, Billie-Jo’s family and friends will be hoping the police can uncover new clues.
It’s time for this tragic teenager to get justice.
https://www.thesun.co.uk/news/17496832/billie-jo-jenkins-murder-questions/ Six Unanswered Questions About Billie-Jo Jenkins’ Murder