Two years ago the brutal murder of a pensioner in his own home shocked neighbours and sparked a wide-scale police investigation.
Now 24 months on, and still determined to catch the killer of Karoly Varga, police have issued a fresh appeal for information.
Mr Varga, 76, who was originally from Hungary and was known locally as Charlie, was murdered at his home in Cannon Street, Wellingborough, on July 27, 2011. His body was discovered a few days later, on July 30.
He died after being struck “a number of times around the head” with a bladed hatchet or axe-like weapon. Police have described the attack on the pensioner, who lived alone and enjoyed tending to his vegetables, as one of the most brutal murders in Wellingborough in recent times.
Det Chief Insp Martin Kinchin said: “While it is two years since Mr Varga’s murder, we are still working towards bringing his killer to justice and I remain confident that we can do this.
“Solving this case remains our priority and we continue to work with forensic experts and the Crown Prosecution Service to find the evidence needed to arrest and convict the person responsible.”
The investigation to catch Mr Varga’s killer has led to arrests, but no-one has been prosecuted for the murder and his killer remains at large.
Police have appealed for information on a number of occasions and a reward of £10,000 was even offered by Mr Varga’s family in return for information leading to a successful prosecution, but they are still no closer to finding out the identity of the killer.
They hoped clues about Mr Varga’s lifestyle and background may unlock the key to the mystery of his death after revealing he had been ‘well known for helping people who came into the country’.
Police described Mr Varga as someone who befriended people he helped: “He was not a money lender, he was a kind old man who had money and would lend it,” Det Chief Insp Kinchin said.
Revealing more about the pensioner’s lifestyle, Det Chief Insp Kinchin has also previously stated: “Mr Varga lived a very frugal life, still in keeping with the kind of lifestyle he would have grown up with in Hungary, but he had money.
“There is a perception that he might have kept money at the house, not huge amounts of money, potentially a couple of hundred pounds.
“But we don’t know if he did have money there, or if people just thought he did.”
Police believe a man shown on CCTV footage visiting Mr Varga’s home just after midday on July 27 may be the killer, and they believe that person was someone he knew as he had been confident enough to let him into his home.
After committing the murder, the killer locked the front and back doors of Mr Varga’s home and would have walked through Bell Court or Bell Street to leave the scene.
The attack was not heard by any of the neighbours, and there was no loud argument or loud disturbance.
What the killer did next is still a mystery to the detectives.
Unaided by the fact that the perpetrator had a three-day head start on them before Mr Varga’s body was discovered, investigators searched for evidence and a potential murder weapon in nearby bushes and drains.
What they do know about the day of the murder is as follows: Mr Varga was someone who got up fairly early to tend to his vegetables in his back and front gardens, and police have no reason to doubt he strayed from his usual pattern on July 27. He received a visit at about 9am, which was an expected visit by a Hungarian woman who went to Mr Varga for help to acquire a TV licence because he spoke English and she didn’t.
She left at about 11.30am. At 11.45am Mr Varga received a visit from his next-door neighbour who gave him a parcel which had been delivered the day before.
Just after midday, at 12.04pm, the CCTV shows a man approached the front door of the house and after a short pause he was let in.
Two minutes later the CCTV showed the front curtain of the fully glazed front door was pulled. The CCTV shows that the curtain never moved again until the body of Mr Varga was found on Saturday, July 30.
Anyone with information should contact police on 101 or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111.
Family appeal for help to catch killer
Karoly Varga’s family have appealed for help from the community to end their two-year struggle to cope with his shocking murder and bring them some closure.
They have already offered a £10,000 reward for information leading to a successful conviction, and as the two-year anniversary of Mr Varga’s brutal murder approaches they are once again forced to re-live the painful memories of his death to urge people to come forward with information.
Mr Varga’s daughter, Rita Groves, pictured, said: “Our father was a kind man, who was no threat to anybody, and so we cannot understand why anybody would want to attack him in this way. It is disappointing that despite our reward and the hard work of the police nobody has ever been convicted of his murder.
“While his death remains unresolved we struggle to find any closure.”
Mrs Groves has previously appealed for people to search their gardens and sheds for a potential murder weapon or her father’s back door keys, which the killer removed from the scene. She also urged people to think back to July 27, 2011, and come forward with any information.
Speaking in a previous interview, she said: “It’s such a busy area, I can’t believe that no-one saw anything. Even if it’s just something tiny, anything that would help the police would be gratefully appreciated. He was a sociable person and he was always outside chatting to people.”
Murder weapon still not found
The murder weapon and Mr Varga’s back door keys are still missing following his murder.
Police believe the weapon used to kill the pensioner was an axe-like or hatchet-like blade, or potentially a substantial meat cleaver-type weapon. The blade of the weapon might only be 5cm to 7cm in length.
Forensic tests revealed the killer wore a pair of Lonsdale trainers at the time of the murder. Officers have continued searching for these missing items in the hunt for the offender who committed this brutal crime.
Det Chief Insp Martin Kinchin said: “Even two years on it is possible these items are still lying waiting to be discovered.”