Operation Lilac: One of Surrey Police’s largest scale murder investigations continues

Almost 27 years has passed since the contract killing of Karen Reed in Woking in 1994 and Surrey Police are continuing to appeal for information to find her killer and those involved.

The investigation, known as Operation Lilac, was featured on this morning’s episode of Crimewatch Live and continues to remain a high priority for the Surrey and Sussex Major Crime Team.

Karen Reed, 33 was shot five times after answering her door to a man disguised as a pizza delivery driver on Saturday, April 30, 1994.

Karen was at her home in Willow Way on the Barnsbury Estate in Woking following a day at work. At around 9.15pm, there was a knock at the door by a man described as tall, dark-haired, wearing glasses and holding a blue and white pizza box. The suspect asked her to confirm the address, which she did before she was shot at close range five times. An ambulance was called but Karen sadly died at the scene.

A murder investigation was launched and despite pursuing over 3,000 lines of enquiry and getting 1,700 statements, Karen’s killer has never been identified and held accountable. The lines of enquiry pursued were geographically spread across the country, including London, Essex and Hertfordshire.

Officers have always believed that this murder was a contract killing and a case of mistaken identity.

Two weeks prior to Karen’s murder, officers pursued a car acting suspiciously in the Woking area. The driver of the red Vauxhall Cavalier decamped the vehicle and ran off. On further inspection of the vehicle, officers found an automatic pistol fitted with a silencer as well as a marked map to the Barnsbury Estate in Woking. As well as this, they found a large black handled commando knife in a black leather sheath, a black Delsey Bag plus a rare Olney blue tartan cap.

Investigating officers believe that this was the driver’s first attempt at carrying out the assassination.

Deputy Senior Investigating Officer, Detective Inspector Gareth Hicks said:

“People out there know who killed Karen Reed.

“Whether it’s the individual who pulled the trigger, or those who were assigned to arrange this contract killing, it’s time for them to come forward.

“Karen was an innocent young woman who was loved by those who knew her, worked hard and had no previous involvement in criminal activity.

“She worked in Addlestone as a geophysicist and was enjoying a glass of wine with a friend when she was brutally murdered.

“We strongly believe that this murder was a case of mistaken identity and a contract killing which went wrong.

“Those who are out there and know what happened, may feel more comfortable in coming forward with information due to certain loyalties and relationships breaking down over time. It’s time for these people to do the right thing and help us.”

If you have any information that could help this investigation, please contact our Operation Lilac team on 01483 639969. Alternatively, you can upload directly via our Major Incident Public Portal here.

You can also contact us via our webchat on our website surrey.police.uk or via 101.

Alternatively, if you do not wish to leave your name, please call the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111. The independent charity Crimestoppers has offered a reward of up to £10,000 for information received which leads to the arrest and conviction of those linked to Karen’s murder. For more information click here.

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