‘Steeltown Murders’ True Story, Explained: Is Sita Anwar A Real-Life Figure? Who Was Maureen Mulchay?

Steeltown Murders, a British crime series, depicts the notorious Llandarcy Murder case, which spanned three decades before reaching a resolution. The series faithfully presents the true events, with a primary focus on the extensive investigation conducted by the South Wales Police in the 1970s and its subsequent continuation thirty years later. However, the narrative takes a creative approach by exploring the experiences of the women who narrowly escaped the Saturday Night Strangler’s grasp but were left with enduring traumatic memories.

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Spoilers Ahead


Is Sita Anwar A Real-Life Figure?

In 1973, the brutal murders of Pauline Floyd and Geraldine Hughes in the Llandarcy Woods shook the community of Neath Port Talbot. Prior to their deaths, another young girl named Sandra Newton had also suffered a similar fate. Pauline and Geraldine worked together at a local factory, where they became close friends with Sita Anwar (played by Priyanga Burford), a teenager who shared their grief over Sandra’s murder. Although they didn’t know Sandra personally, her tragic death had deeply affected all the teenage girls in the area. Despite the shock and worry, life went on for Pauline, Geraldine, and Sita. They decided to plan a Saturday night out, meeting at a bar called Top Rank in Swansea. Sita’s strict, orthodox father abruptly showed up and took her away from the bar, not even letting her say a proper goodbye to her friends. Unbeknownst to Sita, it would be the last time she saw them alive.

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Following the night, Sita, like everyone else in the neighborhood, learned that her friends had been sexually assaulted and murdered. Overwhelmed by guilt and fear, she regretted leaving them at the bar, feeling as though she had betrayed them. This internal torment gravely traumatized Sita, causing her to remain silent when investigator Paul Bethell asked for her alibi as the last person to see Pauline and Geraldine alive. Sita’s father didn’t want her to get embroiled in the investigative procedures, which also worked as a factor in the fact that she couldn’t utter a word, but her pleading eyes conveyed her desperate need for justice for her friends. Initially, Paul promised to find the killer, but as the case slowed to a halt in the 1970s, he couldn’t keep his word and thus couldn’t bring himself to face Sita ever again.

Almost thirty years later, Sita had moved on with her life. She became a mother, a wife, and a headmistress at a school, knowing that the Saturday Night Strangler would never be caught. However, the news of the Llandarcy murder case’s reopening reignited a glimmer of hope within her. Now independent and strong, Sita decided to provide her alibi from that night to Paul. However, Paul ignored her, feeling embarrassed to face her after failing to keep his word. Unable to contain her emotions any longer, Sita confronted her ailing father and shouted at him, questioning why he had prevented her from staying with her friends that night. Sita recognized that her father’s decision was made with her best interests in mind, but her outburst was a manifestation of long-suppressed trauma and the feeling of being confined. She had never been given a chance to express her emotions regarding the loss she had experienced, as her father had acted as though nothing had happened. Therefore, her horrific expression of grief was both unusual and a natural response. While Sita Anwar is not a real individual, she symbolizes the collective experiences of all the friends and well-wishers of Sandra, Pauline, and Geraldine. She represents the girls in Port Talbot who lived in fear, even at the thought of going out at night. Sita emblematizes the countless young girls who had to endure the devastating news of murders and rapes during the charming and vulnerable stage of their lives. Her traumatized behavior reflects the heartbreaking and horrifying emotions that every woman who has experienced such a traumatic incident feels.

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Other Crimes Of Joseph Kappen

In Steeltown Murders, the series introduces other victims of Joseph Kappen who went unnoticed due to a lack of evidence. While Phil’s long-standing friend, Jane, who was sexually assaulted, and Susan Ferry, another victim, are probably fictional representations in the series, the pattern of abduction and the facial descriptions provided by the victims suggest that Joseph Kappen was likely the perpetrator in their cases as well. However, the series does not explicitly confirm Kappen’s involvement in these assaults due to the absence of conclusive evidence.

If we examine the true events surrounding Joseph Kappen, we come across a significant incident in 1976 involving the murder of Maureen Mulchay, a 23-year-old woman. Kappen was considered the prime suspect in this case, although the murder mystery remained unsolved due to the unavailability of DNA samples. Mulchay was also strangled to death on a Saturday night, similar to the manner in which Sandra, Pauline, and Geraldine were killed. The proximity of Mulchay’s murder to Sandsfield estate, near Kappen’s residence, suggests a strong possibility of Joseph being the potential murderer in this case as well. However, during the 1970s, investigators treated these cases separately, which compromised the effectiveness of their investigations and rendered them futile. The introduction of DNA technology in the field of crime investigation provided new possibilities for solving these murder cases. With the combined efforts of Paul Bethell and Phil Rees, the Saturday Night Strangler was finally identified in 2002 using familial DNA. However, the murder case of Maureen Mulchay remains unsolved, as the necessary DNA evidence has not yet been found or linked to Joseph Kappen.

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Poulami Nanda
Poulami Nanda
Poulami Nanda hails from a medical background, yet her journey is to cross the boundaries of medicine and survive in the cinematic world. The surrealistic beauty of cinema and art has attracted her from a very young age. She loves to write poems, songs, and stories, but her dream is to write films someday. She has also worked as a painter, but nothing attracts her more than cinema. Through her writings, she wants to explore the world of cinema more and more and take her readers on the same ride.

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