Unsolved Woking murder sees renewed police appeal on 30-year anniversary

Karen Read was shot dead on the doorstep of her home in 1994
Karen Read was shot dead on the doorstep of her home in 1994 -Credit:Surrey Police

The murder of a woman in Woking remains unsolved 30 years after it happened. Karen Reed was 33 years old when she was shot after answering her door on April 30, 1994.

At the door was a man disguised as a pizza delivery driver. Police believed it was a contract killing and a case of mistaken identity.

Karen, who had no involvement in any criminal activity, was at her home in Willow Way on The Barnsbury Estate in Woking around 9.15pm on Saturday, April 30, 1994 when she answered the door. The man, described as tall, dark-haired, wearing glasses and holding a blue and white pizza box, asked her to confirm the address.

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After she did, she was shot at close range five times. An ambulance was called but Karen died at the scene.

A murder investigation was launched and despite pursuing over 3,000 lines of enquiry and obtaining 1,700 statements, Karen’s killer has never been identified and held accountable. The lines of enquiry pursued were geographically spread across the country, including London, Essex and Hertfordshire.

Officers have always believed that this murder was a contract killing and a case of mistaken identity. Two weeks prior to Karen’s murder, officers had pursued a car acting suspiciously in the Woking area.

The driver of the red Vauxhall Cavalier decamped the vehicle and ran off. On further inspection of the vehicle, officers found an automatic pistol fitted with a silencer as well as a marked map to The Barnsbury Estate in Woking. As well as this, they found a large black-handled commando knife in a black leather sheath, a black Delsey Bag plus a rare Olney blue tartan cap.

Investigating officers believe that this was the driver’s first attempt at carrying out the assassination. The murder, known as Operation Lilac, was featured on Crimewatch in March 2021 but still remains unsolved.

Senior Investigating Officer, Detective Chief Inspector Gareth Hicks said: “Even though 30 years have passed since the murder of Karen Reed, we remain determined to find those responsible for her death. Somebody out there knows who killed her - whether it’s the individual who pulled the trigger, or those who were assigned to arrange this contract killing and we urge them to come forward so that justice is done for Karen and her family and friends.

“Karen was an innocent young woman who was loved by those who knew her. She had absolutely no involvement in criminal activity, and we have always believed that this murder was a case of mistaken identity and a contract killing which went wrong.

“It’s time for the people who know what happened to do the right thing and come forward to help us.”

If you have any information that could help this investigation, you can upload it directly via our Major Incident Public Portal here. You can also contact us via webchat by clicking on the button to the right or via 101.

Alternatively, you can contact the independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.