Murder #15, Lorna Smith, Brixton
Lorna Smith, 45, was murdered by her ex-boyfriend after being lured to his flat at Morrish Road in Brixton. She had broken up with Clifford Mills in 2006 but they remained friends until she started a new relationship in October 2010. Lorna tried to cease contact but he set up a false Facebook account in the name of Charlie Manning to keep in touch. Smith arrived at his flat at 3pm on February 2, 2011. Twenty minutes later Mills left the address with two bags packed with his belongings and spent the rest of the day travelling around London. At 1am he turned up at the accident and emergency department of St Thomas’ Hospital and confessed to Lorna’s murder. While in the hospital Mills told hospital staff that ‘Stan’ had in fact killed Lorna. He said “You need to call the police, Lorna’s dead. Stan’s killed her. Stan hates her, he killed her.” When asked who Stan was Mills replied “Stan is in my head.” Police broke into the flat in Morrish Road and found Lorna sitting in a chair with her throat cut and a plastic bag placed over her head. Clifford Mills was given a life sentence after being found guilty of the murder.
Coming out of Brixton Tube always reminds me of when I first came to London. Brixton was as famous to me as Westminster or any other part of London. I was expecting to see a “ghetto” like some of the inner cities of the United States. What I saw instead was a vibrant community and I said to myself that if this is as rough as London gets, I am gonna really love living here. I still love Brixton but I also expected to visit the area a lot for my project. Brixton is associated with a lot of crime, unfairly I knew, yet those preconceptions filter into my head just like anyone else. I also expected Lorna to be a black woman just because she met her death in Brixton. I don’t like writing things like this because it forces me to admit my head is full of dumb shit that clouds my judgement and forces me to constantly challenge what I think I know. I caught the No. 45 bus that went down Brixton Hill and got off near Morrish Road. I walked up and down the road looking for the murder site but saw nothing. I sheepishly went into a women’s hairdressing salon and asked them if they knew where it was. They said it was at the west end of the road where “the white lady” had died. They also told me it was some sort of domestic dispute. They told me to look out for the boarded up window facing the street in a block of flats. When I saw the ground floor flat I wondered how I missed the broken window. From what I read later it was the police that broke the window when forcing their way in. It was cold and windy and I struggled to make a photo. I ended up being drawn to the solitary piece of police tape flapping in the wind. One of the women that I had met in the salon came up to me and asked if I was with “the Sun”. It was a question that I would get a lot during the course of two years and anyone who knows me would know nothing annoys me more than being confused with a tabloid snapper. I said no and told her what I was doing. She looked at me like I was nuts but smiled kindly and walked away.