Every third day, in our #EveryThreeDays campaign, I write about a woman killed by a man. Previously in this campaign, which started on May 2 2021, I have remembered 117 women, the last being Celia Powell.
Today I remember Sarah Pitkin.
A Suffolk father-of-four murdered his wife then hanged himself weeks after an anonymous note alluding to his wife having an affair was delivered through the family door, an inquest heard. Richard Pitkin, 65, fatally stabbed his wife Sarah, 58, in the neck, then took his own life at the home they shared in Stowupland Street, Stowmarket, a inquest in Ipswich heard.
They had been married for 37 years and had four children together.
Suffolk’s senior coroner Dr Peter Dean concluded that Mrs Pitkin, a charity shop deputy manager, was killed unlawfully, and carpenter Mr Pitkin’s death was suicide. Their bodies were found in a bedroom on February 26 2017, after their son found a note on the door, which was barricaded shut, and he then called police.
Detective Superintendent David Cutler told the hearing: “In late January, an anonymous note was delivered through the family door alluding to Sarah having an affair with a local male. In the months leading to her death, Sarah had been in a relationship with this male.”
He said police had no record of previous incidents involving the couple, adding: “They appeared to have had a normal loving marriage and the family was a close unit. However, there was some suggestion that there were difficulties in the relationship.”
Police were called by the couple’s son and officers found the bodies in a bedroom. Post-mortem examinations showed that Mrs Pitkin died of multiple stab wounds to the neck, and Mr Pitkin died of hanging.
In a statement, the couple’s son said that his father had seemed fine hours earlier and they were “laughing and messing around as normal”, then his father said his wife was coming round to discuss finances and asked his son to “make himself scarce”.
Mr Cutler said: “There’s some suggestion that Richard was abusive to Sarah during the relationship.
“It’s not completely consistent in the nature of the accusations, with the different sides of the family having different thoughts about what that relationship may have been like.”
He said it seemed they had “started to grow apart” and Mrs Pitkin had developed a new group of friends.
“The arrival of an anonymous letter appears to have been the catalyst for the rapid deterioration of the relationship,” said Mr Cutler.
He said there was evidence Mr Pitkin had conducted online searches about depression and suicide. Coroner Dr Dean said: “Clearly there were those difficulties, and it’s also clear looking at all of the evidence that Mr Pitkin acted in a manner that was not spontaneous.
“He had thought through his actions before undertaking them.”
He extended his sympathies to the couple’s family, who sat in court, adding: “It’s difficult to envisage a more tragic situation.”