A WOMAN has spoken for the first time after keeping the secret of a “killer” for more than 40 years.

Murder victim Kay O’Connor’s body was found next to a bloodied knife in her kitchen in March 1974.

She had been beaten and strangled and some of her clothes were removed.

The shorthand typist, who lived in Wickham Road, Colchester, was also stabbed.

More than 2,000 statements were taken in connection with the brutal murder and a further 339 people were questioned.

But despite detectives’ best efforts, no charges were ever brought.

Speaking at her home, a former ward sister who worked with one of the police’s chief suspects, charge nurse Patrick Marran, has now told how he confessed to the killing in the weeks after, during a conversation in her Turner Village Hospital office.

But the guilt-ridden 73-year-old kept Marran’s secret for 44 years out of fear for her job and her family.


The woman’s story has been reported to the police but detectives have confirmed Marran has since died so there is no chance of a prosecution. But the woman now wants her story to be told.

She said: “I was sitting in my office and all of a sudden Mr Marran came in and sat down next to me at the desk.

“I can remember it so clearly, he was just to my left.

“I knew from the gossip in work he had been with the police because they suspected him of killing the woman.

“He looked gaunt and run down and we all knew he was a suspect.

“Thinking about it now, I don’t know how he managed to find me in the office on my own as the office was always bustling with people but he must have peeped in before to make sure I was on my own.

“He sat down. He leaned into me and started to cry and I noticed how awful he looked. He said to me: ‘Have you heard that the police have arrested me? They think I had something to do with that woman who was murdered’.

“I said: ‘Yes, I have’, and I looked back at him and he just said to me: ‘It was me who did that.’”

The woman added: “I don’t know why he choose me. We were not close. We obviously knew each other from work but we weren’t friends.

“I was only 29 or 30 and he was in his fifties. He was known as a ladies’ man but he had a streak to him; he was just a bit much sometimes. “

After the confession, Marran left the room and the pair were never alone again.

During the following year, the woman took maternity leave and when she returned, Marran no longer worked at the hospital.

The mother added: “I have kept this for too long. I honestly couldn’t have reported it to anyone.

“In those days you did not speak out, especially against a man who would be supported by everyone in the hospital.

“I know they would have found a way to get rid of me. I feel such guilt and shame.”

Det Insp Stuart Truss, from the Kent and Essex Serious Crime Directorate, said: “Cold case murder investigations are under continuous review, and we would always encourage anyone with information to come forward. It’s never too late to help.

“We recently reviewed the case of Kay O’Connor’s murder and, unfortunately, there were no further lines of inquiry to pursue.

“Advances in forensic technology can really help cold cases, and we will continue to assess the forensic evidence in this case and others.”

Information on this case or any unsolved murder can be given on 101 to the cold case team.

Old pictures show height of police investigation

THESE pictures show a reconstruction of Kay O’Connor’s last movements on the day she died.

She had been off work and had gone shopping in Butt Road before visiting her mother, who lived just two doors from her.


A female police officer takes part in a reconstruction of Kay's final movements

She then went to the Post Office to pick up her mum’s pension and returned home.

The killer is believed to have entered through a back alley before smashing open the back door.


Police do not know if he was waiting for her or burst in, but some time between 2.30pm and 4.10pm, on March 1, 1974, she was attacked and killed.

She was beaten and strangled to death before some of her clothes were removed and she was stabbed twice.


Probe - reporters question police during a reconstruction

Neighbours discovered her body after hearing noises coming from the house.


Husband Tony O’Connor was working in London and the time and was initially questioned as a suspect but was quickly cleared of any involvement.