The murder of Dr Brenda Page: A killer who thought he got away with it

Dr Brenda Page was murdered in Aberdeen, Scotland in 1978. Her case remained cold for 40 years until her killer was finally apprehended and convicted in 2023.

Dr. Brenda Page Murder
Dr. Brenda Page Murder

Trigger Warning: Mentions of murder, abuse, stalking.

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One of the most perplexing murders in Scotland will be revisited through a two-part BBC documentary series. Dr. Brenda Page, 32 at the time, was a scientist at Aberdeen University. She was found brutally murdered in her flat. This case went unsolved for 4 decades until the perpetrator was finally caught. Her ex-husband Christopher Harrison stood trial as an 80-year-old in one of the country's most observed murder trials.

What happened to Brenda Page?

Brenda Page was a Ph.D. student at Glasgow University when she met he future husband Christopher Harrison. They got married in 1972 and purchased a property near Aberdeen University where she became the principal of the genetics department. Her husband also worked at the university as a researcher.

The relationship soon turned sour as Brenda suffered domestic abuse. This continued escalating until she left their home in 1976 and pursued divorce proceedings due to the extremely violent tendencies of her husband. She moved to a flat on Allan Street where she was later found brutally battered.

On July 14, 1978, Dr. Brenda Page went to the Treetops Hotel for a meal and drinks with two men. Brenda stayed until 2:30 am and decided to drive herself home.

The next day she did not turn up for work which concerned her colleagues, one of whom reached out to one of her neighbours who had a spare key. The neighbour, Ms. Elizabeth Gordon, walked into the apartment to discover Brenda’s lifeless body. She was badly beaten.

Her bedroom window was found open and nothing was missing from the dwelling so the possibility of robbery was dismissed and the police launched a murder inquiry.

The lead suspect

Given the complicated history surrounding her marriage, Brenda’s ex-husband was held and interviewed about the murder but police decided to let him go as there wasn’t enough evidence to convict him.

Brenda’s abuse didn’t stop after she left her husband. It was confirmed that on the day their divorce was finalised he had gone to her apartment and threatened her life, verbally abused her and thrown tableware around. He also went to her laboratory and threatened her in front of people while refusing to leave. Brenda had taken out an interim interdict on Christopher two months after they were divorced.

The case solved 45 years later

In 2015, Brenda’s case was reopened by the police. With advancements in technology, semen that was found on a duvet in her apartment was analyzed and linked to her ex-husband. Harrison was questioned by the police in 2020 and remained adamant he wasn’t involved with Brenda’s killing. He was nonetheless charged with murder. The BBC spoke with Detective Inspector James Callander, the investigating officer of the case. He told the publication:

I think his intelligence was part of his downfall because he thought he was too clever and got away with it, even 40-odd years on.
You can see that in the police interview. He tied himself in knots to a certain degree but didn't really realise it.

In March of 2023, Christopher Harrison was found guilty of murder, he was jailed for life and ordered to serve 20 years before the possibility of parole.

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BBC: Brenda Page murder: The killer who thought he was too clever to be caught

STV News: Brenda Page: Murder mystery finally solved after 45 years

BBC Media Centre: Murder Trial: The Killing of Dr Brenda Page

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