A brand-new 90-minute film about Britain’s first kidnap and ransom case is coming to Sky Documentaries this weekend, with The Wimbledon Kidnapping exploring the abduction and murder of Muriel McKay.
In December 1969, Muriel McKay – the wife of News Limited executive Alick McKay – was taken from her Wimbledon home after being mistaken for Rupert Murdoch’s wife, with the two assailants sending threatening ransom notes to her family demanding £1 million in cash.
The Wimbledon Kidnapping is set to look at the 55-year-old housewife’s disappearance that confounded police, the tabloids and hundreds of clairvoyants who were put to the task of finding her – but what’s the real story behind the documentary?
Read on for everything you need to know about the true story behind Sky’s The Wimbledon Kidnapping, from what happened to Muriel McKay and who was arrested.
When is The Wimbledon Kidnapping on Sky?
The Wimbledon Kidnapping airs on Sky Documentaries at 9pm on Saturday 21st August.
The documentary will also arrive on NOW.
What happened to Muriel McKay?
Muriel McKay, the wife of News Limited executive Alick McKay, was kidnapped on 29th December 1969 by two assailants, who broke into her Wimbledon home while her husband was working.
He reported her missing at 8pm after returning home to find the front door unlocked, the contents of Muriel’s handbag scattered and the telephone ripped from the wall.
It soon transpired that the kidnappers had actually intended to abduct Anna Murdoch, the wife of media tycoon Rupert Murdoch, with the assailants calling Alick hours later and telling him: “We tried to get Rupert Murdoch’s wife. We couldn’t get her so we took yours instead. You have a million by Wednesday night or we will kill her.”
The next morning, Alick received a letter supposedly from his wife which read: “Please do something to get me home. What have I done to deserve this treatment?”
Over the following 40 days, the kidnappers, who called themselves M3 (Mafia 3), sent letters to Alick and his adult children Ian and Diane threatening to kill Muriel and demanding money – however, attempts to deliver money to them proved to be unsuccessful.
On 1st February, the kidnappers asked Ian McKay to bring half a million to the A10 crossroads and a policeman went in his place. However, the kidnappers became suspicious of police intervention and didn’t turn up.
Five days later, the kidnappers called again, demanding that Alick and his daughter Diane deliver money in two suitcases – although this time, a detective hid in the boot of their car. As instructed, the McKay’s left the money in suitcases near a garage in Bishop’s Stortford, however a bystander reported the suitcases to local police.
The police spotted a car repeatedly driving past the drop off point and found that the licence plate was registered to Arthur Hosein, whose fingerprints matched those on the ransom notes. Police searched his property but did not find Muriel McKay and came to the conclusion that she was dead.
Was Muriel McKay found?
Police found plenty of evidence that 34-year-old Arthur Hosein had kidnapped Muriel McKay at his home Rooks Farm, including twine, a roll of tape, matching fingerprints and a notebook with torn pages matching the tears in McKay’s letters, however they found no trace of Muriel at the farm.
Hosein and his 22-year-old brother Nizamodeen were both arrested and put to trial on 14th September 1970, with the court learning that Hosein had been struggling financially and decided to kidnap Anna Murdoch after watching Rupert Murdoch being interviewed by David Frost following his purchase of the News of the World and The Sun.
The Hoseins had followed Murdoch’s Rolls-Royce to the McKay’s Wimbledon address without realising that the McKays were using the company car while the Murdochs were in Australia, which is how they ended up mistakenly abducting Muriel McKay.
Both brothers were convicted of murder, kidnap and blackmail and received life sentences, with Justice Shaw describing their conduct as “cold-blooded and abominable”, according to a Times article at the time.
While the Hoseins were sent to prison for Muriel McKay’s murder, her body was never found. Many suspected that the brothers had killed McKay and then fed her remains to the pigs on their Hertfordshire farm, according to BBC News.
Alick McKay enlisted the help of Dutch clairvoyant Gerard Croiset to try to find Muriel, with the psychic telling him that Muriel was being held at another farm and that if she wasn’t found within 14 days, she would die.
Police searched the Hertfordshire and Essex borders as well as the local area, but didn’t find anything.
The Wimbledon Kidnapping airs on Saturday 21st August on Sky Documentaries at 9pm and will be available to stream on NOW. You can also plan your viewing with our TV Guide or visit our dedicated Documentaries hub for the latest news.