EXCLUSIVE: “Our Mum was murdered” – claim Frankham family

The Frankham family'Gertrude Frankham is centre.
The Frankham family'Gertrude Frankham is centre.

The grieving family of Gertrude Frankham claim she was murdered and are accusing Norfolk police of failing to take them seriously.

Police deny the allegations and a spokesman said: “We are currently investigating fully all of the allegations which have been made in relation to this case.

Roses that are on Eli Frankham's Grave at Mount Pleasant Cemtery Wisbech

Roses that are on Eli Frankham's Grave at Mount Pleasant Cemtery Wisbech

“As a result of concerns raised by Mrs Frankham’s family four months after her death, the Norfolk and Suffolk Major Investigation Team launched a full inquiry led by a Senior Investigating Officer.”

But Gertrude’s children, led by eldest daughter Violet Chilton, are not happy with the way police are handling the case and have vowed to fight for justice for the mother they called ‘our queen’.

Gertrude’s body was exhumed from Mount Pleasant Cemetery in Wisbech, where she was laid to rest in December last year, after the family discovered the 75-year-old’s house had been burgled multiple times.

Violet explained when she discovered Gertrude dead in her bed at her Walpole St Andrew home the family were completely distraught and shocked as she appeared to be in good health the evening before when she had just come out of hospital.

Frankham copy pic

Frankham copy pic

And the first thought that went through Violet’s mind was the fear her mother would have to undergo an autopsy.

She said: “I said to police ‘please, I don’t want her cut about’. I was the same when my dad died in hospital in 2000. I was worried about him undergoing an autopsy, but I would never have stood in the way of an autopsy if police thought it was necessary at the time.”

But officers told Violet and her family that a post-mortem examination would not be necessary if a doctor was willing to sign a death certificate, which was organised but the family claim a doctor never came out to see Gertrude’s body.

The family were happy at the time because they had no reason to suspect foul play and accepted she had died of natural causes.

But weeks after laying Gertrude to rest beside her beloved husband Eli, the Romany Rights campaigner, the family’s take on what happened to ‘Granny’ changed with the discovery that her property had been burgled.

It was granddaughter Laura Dolan, who had a premonition that something bad had happened to ‘Granny’, who discovered the burglaries after she noticed an old school clock was missing from where it had always been.

“I just had this feeling, I couldn’t shake it off, that something bad happened. Then looking through the window I noticed the clock was missing and I just said ‘Granny’s been robbed,’” said Laura.

Further investigations revealed that boxes of items including Ainsley china had been emptied, paintings and jewellery and numerous other items were missing.

Both Laura and Violet began to have fears over Gertrude’s death after having what they describe as ‘visions’ and are convinced she was murdered by having a pillow put over her face.

Family investigations tracked down items missing from Gertrude’s home and Violet claims the family have even seen CCTV footage at an antique shop of a man selling the stolen items, including the clock.

They have passed on their findings to police and have also spoken of their concerns over Gertrude’s death.

Violet explained that since the discovery of the burglaries the family have thought about the day Gertrude’s body was found.

They are convinced there is circumstantial evidence to back their claims.

For instance, Gertrude was lying the wrong way round on her bed – her feet were where her head should be. The position of the body was odd as she looked as if she had been laid out, and there was a trickle of blood and saliva from her mouth.

Gertrude’s other daughter Sheila said: “When I got to ‘mum’s’ and saw her lying there the first thing I said was why is she lying like that? We couldn’t have laid her out better ourselves,” said Sheila.

The family claim they know who killed Gertrude. They say they don’t wish him any harm but are determined he will be brought to justice.

“I will fight until the day I die for justice. She was our queen and she deserves justice.

“I know people think we are gypsies and all that, but that doesn’t mean our mother should not get justice,” said Violet, who laid roses on her parents’ graves last week.

A Norfolk police spokesman said officers are taking the case seriously and are following a number of leads.

“As a result of concerns raised by Mrs Frankham’s family four months after her death, the Norfolk and Suffolk Major Investigation Team launched a full inquiry led by a Senior Investigating Officer. This included, with the family’s permission, the exhumation of Mrs Frankham’s body and a Home Office post-mortem which has ruled out any third party involvement in her death.

“Preliminary findings also indicate she died from natural causes. While we await the result of some further tests, we are satisfied that Mrs Frankham’s death was not suspicious and the family has been updated of this outcome. While it was important to prioritise the investigation into Mrs Frankham’s death, we continue to make progress on all aspects of this inquiry.

“We will continue to liaise with the family during this process.”