60 years since the A6 murder in Bedfordshire - and the woman who wasn't believed

Posthumous autobiography of Valerie Storie who was paralysed by James Hanratty is published

Friday, 20th August 2021, 4:51 pm

As Bedfordshire's most notorious murder, there can't be many people in the county who haven't heard of James Hanratty.

One of the final eight people in the UK to be executed before capital punishment was abolished, the petty criminal was hanged at Bedford Jail in 1962 for the murder of Michael Gregsten at Deadman's Hill, near Clophill, on the A6.

Hanratty also raped Gregsten's fiancée, Valerie Storie, shot her five times and left her for dead. She survived, but was paralysed and remained in a wheelchair until her death in 2016.

Valerie Storie

And for years, Valerie’s certainty of Hanratty’s guilt was scrutinised, attracting the attention of John and Yoko who came out in Hanratty's defence.

But she was never in doubt, picking out Hanratty in an identity parade - and in 2002, DNA evidence proved beyond reasonable doubt she was always telling the truth.

And now, her posthumous autobiography - The Long Silence by Paul Stickler - reveals in her own words what happened that fateful night and how she and Michael attempted to get away from Hanratty.

It tells for the first time every explicit detail of the cat and mouse drive, as Michael and Valerie tried on more than 20 occasions to deter and thwart the apparently indecisive Hanratty.

The Long Silence

It also corrects the assumption that she was a 'loose woman', 60 years on from the murder.

Valerie had always intended to write a book, and over the years had secretly drafted its contents and written hundreds of notes. Yet for over 35 years she gave no interviews, despite persistent media pressure to do so.

Paul Stickler - who co-authored the book - joined the Hampshire Constabulary in 1978 and since his retirement in 2008, has indulged his passion for history, researching murders in the first half of the 20th century.

The book - The Long Silence: The True Story of James Hanratty and the A6 Murder by Valerie Stories, the Woman Who Lived to Tell the Tale by Paul Stickler - costs £16.05 and is available on pre-order here

Valerie Storie, far left