What killed mother-of-three murdered by husband will never be known

What killed pregnant mother-of-three who was murdered by her husband 24 years ago will never be known because her body decomposed after he buried it in garden, inquest hears

  • Debbie Griggs, 34, was likely killed by her husband at her family home in 1999
  • Her cause of death is unknown after her remains lay undiscovered 20 years 

The way in which a pregnant mum-of-three’s husband killed her may never be known, an inquest has heard, after she was murdered by him over 20 years ago and her remains lay undiscovered and decomposed.

Debbie Griggs was likely killed by her husband Andrew at her family home in Deal, Kent, in 1999, before being buried 170 miles away.

It was not until last October that her remains were found at her husband Andrew’s former garden in St Leonard’s, Dorset.

At a short hearing held at Maidstone’s County Hall in Kent yesterday, it was revealed that the exact circumstances of how Debbie died may never be known.

Results from a post-mortem examination classed her death as unascertained, due to decomposition.

Debbie Griggs (left) was likely killed by her husband Andrew (right) at her family home in 1999, before being buried 170 miles away

The 34-year-old trained nurse vanished from her home almost 24 years ago.

She was pregnant at the time and already had three young sons aged 18 months, four and six, at the time she was reported missing.

Griggs was found guilty of murder and jailed for life in October 2019, after a cold case review was carried out by police.

Following a tip-off, officers dug-up the garden of a property in Dorset, where remains, including teeth fragments, were found and matched to Mrs Griggs.

Officers excavated the back garden of the home, where Andrew moved in July 2001, after the investigation into Debbie’s whereabouts closed.

The couple’s three sons, and eventually Griggs’ second wife, lived at the home too, unaware that Debbie had been buried under the patio. 

Police found human remains, including teeth fragments, in the garden. A post-mortem revealed the teeth belonged to Debbie.

Sarah Clarke, the North Kent area coroner who formally opened the recent inquest into her death, said: ‘Her body was found at an address in Dorset on October 6, 2022, following information from Dorset Police.

‘She was identified by dental records.

‘The circumstances are that on May 6, 1999, she was reported missing from her home, having last been seen on May 5.

‘In October 2019 her husband Andrew Griggs was convicted of her murder but her body had not been found.

Griggs was found guilty by a jury at Canterbury Crown Court in October 2019. A judge initially accused the fisherman and sailor of dumping Debbie’s body at sea

Griggs went on to remarry, and the couple lived in the home where his first wife’s body was buried

‘It is believed her death was at her home address.’

A total of £250 cash and her white Peugeot 309 had also gone when she initially vanished.

Her husband Andrew, whom she had married in 1990, had taken 24 hours to tell police.

Afterwards he told them that she had gone missing before and returned so was confident she would come back.

He said she had this time stormed out in the car after they had rowed.

It later emerged the couple’s relationship had been strained for some time.

Public appeals were put out to find Debbie and days after the disappearance the vehicle was found 1.3 miles from the family home.

Her blood was found inside it but no further trace of her was found. Her bank accounts sat dormant and she did not interact with the health service or social security.

Officers excavated the back garden of a home in St Leonards, Dorset, where her killer husband Andrew Griggs moved in July 2001, after the investigation into Debbie’s whereabouts closed

Police eventually began to realise Griggs, a fisherman, had a motive to kill Debbie.

She had learned he was involved in a sexual relationship with a 15-year-old girl, and did not seem willing to cover up for him.

A judge at the murder trial 20 years later concluded he had groomed the child.

The couple ran a business, the Griggs Freezer Centre in South Street, Deal, together.

It is believed her husband feared he could lose half if she divorced him over the involvement with the teenager.

In 2019 and following a review of the case, Griggs, who had remarried and moved with his sons to Dorset, was charged over Debbie’s death.

He was put on trial, accused of murdering his wife and disposing of her body.

A total of £250 cash and Debbie’s white Peugeot 309 had also gone when she initially vanished

A jury at Canterbury Crown Court found him guilty in October 2019 and he was sentenced to life in prison for the murder and ordered to serve a minimum of 20 years.

In 2020, the former couple’s three sons, Jeremy, Jake and Luke, launched a social media page called ‘Find our Mum,’ believing she was still alive and their father was innocent.

But two years later, on October 17, 2022, Kent Police revealed Debbie’s remains had been found buried in a garden in Dorset.

This was at the property Griggs had moved to in 2001 and officers had taken the new action based on ‘information received’.

It is not known how Debbie came to be in the garden and when.

Miss Clarke said the date for resuming the inquest was still to be confirmed.

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