English television presenter Jill Dando (1961 – 1999), UK, 30th October 1996. (Photo by Colin Davey/Getty Images).
Jill Dando was a journalist who in 1995 became the host of Crimewatch, a BBC program that seeks the public’s help in unsolved crimes. Four years after joining the show, Jill’s own case would also be one of the most notorious unsolved crimes in history.
Conviction and acquittal of Barry George
On April 26, 1999, Jill Dando reached her home in Fulham. But before she could get her keys in her door, she was shot execution style. Jill’s body was discovered by a neighbor several minutes after she was shot and immediately taken to the Charing Cross Hospital. She was pronounced dead on arrival.
Being that Jill was in the public eye during her career, her death attracted an incredible amount of media coverage. The Metropolitan Police worked tirelessly, talking with over 2,500 people and taking more than a thousand statements. Their investigation led them to Barry George, a man who lived near her home and had been known to stalk women and commit sexual offenses.
George was charged and convicted of murder in July 2001. He was given a life sentence, but only spent eight years in jail following a retrial. George’s conviction was based on a minute particle of a gunshot residue that was found in his pocket. Upon further investigation, experts confirmed that it could have come from elsewhere. George was acquitted in August 2008.
There are many theories as to who was behind Jill’s murder. Her work as a journalist may have played a role. One possibility that surfaced in 2014 related to Jill’s investigation of a VIP pedophile ring. Detectives on the case also received a message suggesting that Jill was murdered by the Serbian mafia as revenge for the NATO-led bombing of a television station. There was also speculation that Jill might have been targeted because of her role as presenter of Crimewatch.