A notorious serial killer who is already serving a life sentence now says he also hammered to death a mom and one young daughter—and severely injured another daughter—while they were walking home from swimming on a summer day in July 1996.
Their bodies were found alongside the family dog Lucy, who had also been mercilessly beaten to death in a field in rural England.
Levi Bellfield, who has been convicted of the murders of three other people including Milly Dowler, 13, has written a confession in which he admits he also fatally bludgeoned Lin Russell, 45, with 15 blows to her skull, and her 6-year-old daughter, Megan, with at least seven smashes with a claw hammer in 1996.
Another daughter, Josie, 9, was also attacked. She managed to survive but the patriarch of the family was initially told his entire family had been killed in the brutal inexplicable attack.
Josie is now an artist in Wales, where she bought and refurbished the old family home with her dad. She said in an interview in 2018 that she still rides her mother’s beloved horse, which her little sister was famously pictured riding as a young child.
Josie told police that the man who attacked the family was a little taller than her father, Shaun Russell. A description that matches Bellfield, but not the 5-foot-7 man who was jailed for the attack.
She also said she had seen a beige Ford at the scene, and waved at the driver when he passed them. Bellfield owned a beige Ford Sapphire at the time but he told police it had been stolen.
Shaun Russell later said he always had this “niggling doubt” that the right man had been convicted.
The revelation means that Michael Stone, the man who has been twice convicted of killing Russell and her young daughter, may have been wrongfully convicted. He was originally arrested after several tip-offs from the Crimewatch TV program and he had no alibi, admitting he had been so high he had no idea where he was or what he did that day. He was also later wanted in another murder, but forensic evidence failed to tie him to either crime.
Stone’s lawyers have released a letter said to be penned by Bellfield—who has long been suspected of involvement—to the Sun newspaper, which published an excerpt that includes how Bellfield took a hair tie from the crime scene as a souvenir. “In my car I had a screwdriver, a lock knife, a hammer, yellow marigold gloves and a very long black bootlace,” Bellfield’s letter reportedly says. “My first intention was to just attack Lin, but I quickly changed my mind due to the screams and was worried she would fight back given the children were with her.”
Then, Bellfield reportedly writes, he approached the mom and held her right arm tight. “She asked me not to harm her children. She was calm. Had she screamed I would have attacked her and left not harming the children,” he said, according to the Sun. “The situation just got out of control and the more she complied it just gave me more confidence. I walked all three of them off the track. I forced Lin to sit down.”
The killer—whoever it is—tied up Lin, Megan, and Josie before bludgeoning them with a claw hammer. The elder daughter miraculously survived but suffered severe brain injuries and only years later learned to speak again. Emergency responders initially thought the older daughter was also dead due to the severity of her head injury from the sharp hammer.
Bellfield then writes that he also killed the family dog. “I grabbed the dog by the collar and it bit my wrist. I hit the dog and killed it,” he reportedly wrote. “There was blood everywhere and all up my legs, arms and shorts.”
Stone was convicted of the murders in 1998, but the verdict was thrown out in an appeal a year later—he was briefly released in a shocking twist in a country that rarely reverses murder convictions. A high court then ordered a retrial and he was again convicted in 2001 on the basis of an alleged jailhouse confession and remains incarcerated. Twice, his case was rejected for judicial review.
Bellfield—who says he does not know Stone—allegedly also writes a curious apology to Stone in his tome.“Something like this has never happened to me, in the sense I’ve committed a crime and another person has been arrested for it,” he writes in the letter released by the Sun. “I apologize to Stone and the Russell family for my heinous acts.”
The case gained new interest in 2020 after police found the shoelace used in the attack. The lace had previously been thought to be lost but ended up in a storage locker in the police station in Kent.
Stone is now taking his case to the Criminal Cases Review Commission, or CCRC, which will consider the new evidence.
“Mr. Stone’s current application to the CCRC is being reviewed and we remain in regular contact with his legal representatives,” a spokesman told British media. “We are aware they are planning to send in further information, and when received, we will thoroughly analyze it and make any appropriate inquiries. We will not be commenting further at this stage.”
Bellfield, a former doorman, has already been convicted of the heinous murder of 13-year-old schoolgirl Milly Dowler, in 2002, and the slayings of Marsha McConnell, 19, and Amelie Delagrante, 22.
He was also convicted of another attempted murder and the kidnapping and false imprisonment of two others.
The police officer in charge of the investigation into Stone’s involvement remains cautious. Detective Paul Fotheringham of Kent police said Stone is still guilty of the crime. “Following two trials at which Stone was found guilty by a jury on both occasions, and an appeal to the high court, Michael Stone remains convicted of the murders of Lin and Megan Russell, and the attempted murder of Josie Russell in 1996,” he told British reporters.
Bellfield also had an alibi placing him in West London with his wife at the time.
It is unclear if the police intend to interview Bellfield in prison to corroborate his alleged confession.