Screams in the Night
MELANIE HALL WAS BRIGHT, BEAUTIFUL AND VIVACIOUS, BUT SHE VANISHED ON A NIGHT OUT IN 1996. FOR 13 YEARS THERE WAS NO SIGN OF HER, UNTIL REMAINS WERE FOUND BY A MOTORWAY
“It’s coming home, it’s coming home, it’s coming, Football’s coming home.” That was a new song then, in 1996 – a chorus that echoed round the country as England hosted Euro 96. And in the opening game England faced Switzerland, conceding a late goal to draw.
People in the historic city of Bath were as transfixed by the football as elsewhere in England. After the game many headed for the Georgian city’s pubs, bars and nightclubs. Among the crowds that Saturday night was a young couple. He was a recently qualified doctor. She was a psychology graduate working as a clerical officer at the Royal United Hospital, where they met. Her name was Melanie Hall.
25- year- old Melanie was bright, beautiful and vivacious, her parents would later say. “She was very excited. This was a girl who had everything in front of her. She was absolutely bubbling, it was the pinnacle of her youth,” her father told The Sun. Melanie had got together with German surgeon Philip Kurlbaum, three weeks prior. She planned to spend the weekend at his flat in the centre of Bath.
She lived with her parents, Steve and Pat, in Bradfordon- Avon eight kilometres away. The previous day, the Friday, her parents moved into a new home. Her mother had driven Melanie to Bath. Melanie planned to spend the night with Philip and go to a friend’s party in Bath the following night.
“I just said have a lovely time,” Pat said. “That was the last time I spoke to her. I didn’t need to tell her I loved her.”
Preface to murder
On Saturday night, 8 June, bars jostled with people watching the England football match. Melanie and Philip went to a friend’s party, but it ended early, so they and another couple decided to keep the night going and went to one of Bath’s many nightclubs.
Cadillacs was a venue on Walcot Street, Bath’s Bohemian quarter. The four of them went in. Cadillacs had a reputation as a mainstream club. Saturday nights was a ‘ towny’ affair, as opposed to Monday’s ‘ student nights’. Melanie and Philip were there for some time. At one point he left the club to get more cash out. When Dr. Kurlbaum returned he saw Melanie dancing with another man and stormed back out of the club. Later, Melanie’s other friends left the club. She was sat on a stool by the dance floor. She was alone. It was the last time anyone who knew Melanie Hall saw her alive.
On the Sunday, Pat and Steve Hall assumed that Melanie would pop over to see their new home. But she didn’t show. And the following morning Melanie did not arrive for work, which had never happened before. She was a clerical officer in the same hospital where her mother worked as a nurse.
Pat tried to contact Melanie but had no luck. There was no sign of Melanie all day. They contacted Philip, who said he last saw her in the nightclub. At 8pm, Pat and Steve drove to Bath police station. “I remember driving down and thinking for the first time perhaps I will never see her again, that crossed my mind. But I didn’t say that to Pat,” Steve later said. “We were caught up in the moment, it’s like a car accident, suddenly there’s a lot going on and it takes you over. Once we had gone to the police station things happened quite quickly. The police came to us that evening and we were being overtaken by events. They searched here in the garden till midnight and came back the next morning, it was full scale and all kicked in.”
She sat on a stool by the dance floor. She was alone. It was the last time anyone saw Melanie Hall alive