Taxi To Nowhere

This is the story of a 16-year-old girl who took a taxi to a beauty spot as it was getting dark in November 1995 and simply vanished. . .

Ruth Wilson vanished from Box Hill, Surrey on November 27th 1995

This has to be one of the strangest, most confusing missing persons case that I have ever looked into so far.

This strange and rather tragic story begins as if it was a planned suicide, but as things unravel it becomes clear that was almost definitely not the case.

On Monday, November 27th 1995 Ruth Wilson got up and ready for school as normal but having eaten her breakfast suddenly informed her sister Jennifer that she would not be catching the bus to school with her.

Jennifer did not really think anything was unusual as Ruth was a sixth former and were often not required to attend school for a full day.

Ruth then called a taxi at around 11.30am which took her to Dorking town centre, She arrived at about midday and then spent almost three hours in the local library.

Just before 3pm, Ruth made her way to a local florist shop, called ‘Thistles’. There she ordered a fairly expensive bouquet of flowers to be sent to her step-mother Karen, but not to be delivered until two days later and with no card or note attached. So realistically the recipient would not be aware who had sent the flowers.

Having ordered the flowers, Ruth then walked 0.8 miles to Dorking railway station where she took a taxi to a nearby beauty spot, known as Box Hill.

Box Hill is a large summit in a range of chalk hills called North Downs in Surrey, England and is a very popular place with local youngsters to hang out as it has a superb view of the town of Dorking. However, on this occasion, the visit was a little odd as it was raining quite heavily and the area afforded very little by way of shelter.

I am a little confused as to why the taxi-driver that dropped Ruth off did not report his concerns until much later when the teenager had been reported missing. He said that he dropped ruth at a bridleway next to the public house but instead of her heading off to find shelter, she just stood in the rain watching the driver leave.

The taxi-driver admitted that he found this behaviour as strange as most passengers get out of the vehicle and head off toward a destination almost immediately, yet he did not report this unusual behaviour, including the fact Ruth was not wearing a coat. Now I am not a cabbie but, I am sure if I was taking a fare to such a destination and that fare was a teenage girl without a coat who was acting strangely I would report my concerns at once, wouldn’t you? Let’s also bear in mind that the drop off was recorded as approximately 4.30pm so it would have been pretty close to, if not already dark.

Anyway, Ruth did not return home or even make contact with her family and as a result, her father Ian reported her missing later that evening. The possibility that she had run away was the first consideration, but when the police became aware of the taxi driver’s report they scaled up their enquiries to a missing person with concerns for the teenager’s safety and a search began.

Ruth Wilson was a very bright, well-educated student with an active life

Police made a search of around one hundred acres of land within the Box Hill area. They used a helicopter with heat-seeking equipment, a considerable team of police officers and volunteers as well as trained sniffer dogs but were unable to locate Ruth or even find any evidence to indicate that she had ever been there. I wonder if she had.

Four days later, police discovered three handwritten notes hidden under an overgrown bush. The notes were addressed to Ruth’s parents, her best friend and a boy that she was particularly close to. It was confirmed that the notes were definitely written by the missing teenager but the contents of them have never been released into the public domain, the reason for this is unclear.

A thorough search of the area close to where the notes were found recovered a bottle of fortified wine, called Vermouth which was half-empty and several empty packets which had contained paracetamol tablets. This obviously raised the suggestion that Ruth may have committed suicide but her body was never located, so that actually seems unlikely to have been the case.

On December 2nd 1995 another massive search was undertaken, involving Surrey police and the local fire and rescue team. The Betchworth Quarry end of Box Hill was thoroughly scoured but no trace of the missing teenager was found.

I feel it is very important to say that Ruth’s birth mother had died, apparently by hanging herself when Ruth was still very young but both Ruth and Jennifer were told that their mother, Nesta Wilson had died by accident when she fell down the stairs and broke her neck.

Ian Wilson had re-married just a year later whilst he was working as a head of science department at a school. His new wife, who of course became the girl’s step-mother was also a teacher in a primary school.

Not long before her disappearance Ruth had learned the truth about her mother’s death. According to a very close friend, Catherine Mair, Ruth had suddenly become fixated about her mother’s death when she reached age sixteen.

Ruth travelled to London where she tracked down the death certificate for Nesta Wilson and the truth was out. Quite obviously from that day on Ruth began questioning everything that her father had ever told her and was determined to establish why her mother had committed suicide, it is not clear but it seems her father never did offer her a truthful explanation, at least not one that Ruth found credible.

The beautiful area of Box Hill, Surrey where Ruth was last seen

Ruth ran away from home for a short while after her trip to London and stayed with her friend, Ben Anderton. She hid away at Ben’s house for several hours but, eventually returned home. I do know that at that stage she had not let her father know of her findings.

Ruth had one very close friend in whom she placed her whole trust, Catherine Mair. No matter what the worry or issue she knew she could openly talk to Catherine in confidence. Ruth would regularly stay over at her house and in fact, she stayed there just a few days prior to her disappearance.

Catherine had been due to move to Sheffield and Ruth had asked her if once the move was complete if she could stay with her. Catherine said yes, but kind of dismissed the question as her friend just wanting to maintain the friendship.

One serious concern here is that Catherine went on to report that whenever Ruth stayed over she would cry and get upset when she had to go home. She told Catherine on many occasions that she wanted to run away. Sadly Catherine moved away just a few days later and never heard from Ruth again.

Police went to visit Catherine in Sheffield to discuss things with her but they discovered that she too had run away at a similar time to Ruth. The police searched Catherine’s room for clues of Ruth but found nothing.

On December 8th 1995, with no news of Ruth, Ian and Karen made a televised appeal on the early morning show This Morning urging anyone with information to come forward.

Soon after the broadcast, the family liaison officer for the Wilsons, Mark Williams-Thomas stated that there was no evidence to indicate that Ruth had been harmed or had committed suicide, a statement which even now I am inclined to agree with. Mark did indicate that he believed ruth had specifically gone to Box Hill to meet with someone and then left with them, once again I am very much inclined to agree with that.

There have been a number of unconfirmed sightings of Ruth Wilson over the years but none have come to anything.

One potential sighting that strikes as a little unusual happened about a year after ruth vanished. A Dorking shop keeper contacted the police to say that there had been a situation in his newsagent shop involving a teenage girl.

He said that the girl in question had requested a copy of every local paper but unfortunately when the newsagent told her that one particular paper had sold out she became very upset indeed and left the shop.

Ian and Karen Wilson viewed the CCTV for the shop and said that they believed the girl to definitely be Ruth. Sadly there was no further trace of Ruth and I can’t help but draw the conclusion that she deliberately returned to the area to see if she was still being looked for and left again. She may have been driven there by someone, so she disappeared as quickly as she had come.

I have to say that looking at the evidence which is in the public domain it seems suggestive to me that a teenage female who left home without a coat on a chilly winter evening must have been expecting to meet someone with a vehicle. This chain of thought is backed-up by the fact that she stood and watched the taxi leave Box Hill as if wanting to ensure that the driver could not inform anyone of her movements.

I am somewhat confused by this case but I will say that I dismiss a theory that was put forward suggesting some kind of link to Amanda ‘Milly’ Dowler who went missing from Walton-on-Thames on March 21st 2002.

My belief is that Ruth Wilson went somewhere with a friend and has since changed her identity after her trip to London in October 1995 where she learnt things that she never revealed to anyone, dark things that she felt she could not live in Dorking once she knew.

I will leave this one at this point and say as always if you have any information please contact Dorking Police on 01483 571212 or via 101. You can also contact Crimestoppers in confidence on 0800–555–111

Someone, somewhere knows what happened to Ruth and indeed where she is, remember that date Monday, November 27th 1995

I will be back with another true crime case for you very soon, in the meantime, if you would like to discuss this or any other case with me or just want to get in touch to talk true crime, I am always happy to hear from you.




True Crime — mysterious, unsolved, solved, the horrendous and the elusive…

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Lolly True crime

Lolly True crime

Lolly’s True Crime World cold case review specialists, researchers, writers & documentary makers. Unsolved crime investigation is our passion

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