The secret life of Carole Waugh

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

Despite Libyan connection, police believe the answers to the wealthy woman's death will be found in London

The murder of Carole Waugh, the former oil executive whose body was found hidden in a car in a New Malden lock-up on Thursday night, might be puzzling. Yet the real mystery is not just how she met her death, but how she lived what appears to be a deliberately enigmatic life.

High-class escort? Millionairess? Or just a well-heeled and enthusiastic seeker of love on internet dating sites? Scotland Yard last night declined to comment on the speculation now swirling around the 50-year-old woman who was highly secretive even with the family to whom she was close, and was regarded by former colleagues as a teller of what seemed to be tall tales about herself.

Her family last saw her as long ago as 9 April, when she boarded a train from her native Durham to London, where she had her home, a flat in London's smart Marylebone district, on Harrowby Street, not far from the entrance to the Grosvenor Victoria Casino. It was bought for £150,000 in 1998 and is now worth £650,000. She was not seen after mid-April, and when her family repeatedly failed to get her on the phone – she spoke to them several times a week – the alarm was raised.

What happened next has revealed her substantial assets and the likely motive for her murder. Her bank account was plundered of several hundred thousand pounds, say police. Three different women have tried to pose as her to use her credit cards. At least two people have arrived at her flat, claiming to be the new tenants, one having paid £7,000 to a "landlord". And a man saying he was her brother tried to sell the flat. A total of 10 people have been arrested.

One of the most intriguing aspects of the case is the source of her wealth. The daughter of a colliery electrician in County Durham, she left school with limited qualifications, and worked in a low-level role at the Department of Social Security.

She went to London when she was 25, and little is known of her until 13 years later in 2000, when she got a job in Libya with Veba Oil. Her salary was then £24,000 after tax. And yet, beside the large funds in her bank account, she also had some impressive jewellery, significant items of which are missing. They include a Cartier ring, a white-gold bracelet, and a yellow-gold bracelet and necklace.

While she was working in Libya, she was, according to some of her former workmates, rather more forthcoming about her lifestyle than she was with her family. Reports say she told colleagues that she regularly hob-nobbed with film stars and owned a Harley-Davidson motorbike and a flat near Harrods. She also wore a large diamond engagement ring and wedding band, and referred to her "late" husband, although there is no record of her ever having been married.

One woman who worked with her for some years told the Daily Mail: "None of us could work out why she had come to Libya to work for just £24,000 a year if she was already so wealthy." Another said Ms Waugh said she was a property developer back in London.

Ms Waugh left Libya in 2008 in circumstances that have added a further layer of speculation. A former boss told journalists that she had written to him saying she had "fled" Libya after receiving threats. Scotland Yard sources, however, say that they are not pursuing a North African dimension, and their inquiries are focused in London.

Once back in the UK, Ms Waugh frequently visited her family, was a keen jogger, and, according to police, met men through a variety of internet sites, including dating websites. They are also investigating the possibility that she worked as an escort, although there is as yet no evidence that she did so.

What does seem certain is that there was no sighting of her between mid-April and the discovery last week of her body. She had died from a single stab wound. She was hidden in a blue Volkswagen Golf – registration W466 NHL – inside the New Malden garage, which had been rented recently from its builder owner. Police would not comment on reports that Miss Waugh's body had been in the garage for months. Last night, Nicholas David Kutner, 47, who was arrested in connection with the murder and kidnap of oil executive Carole Waugh, was charged with four counts of fraud, Scotland Yard said.

Additional reporting by Will Robinson

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
election 2015The 10 best quotes of the campaign
News
A caravan being used as a polling station in Ford near Salisbury, during the 2010 election
election 2015The Independent's guide to get you through polling day
News
people
Voices
David Blunkett joins the Labour candidate for Redcar Anna Turley on a campaigning visit last month
voicesWhat I learnt from my years in government, by the former Home Secretary David Blunkett
ebooks
ebooksA celebration of British elections
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: ‘We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon’, says Ed Balls

'We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon'

In an exclusive interview, Ed Balls says he won't negotiate his first Budget with SNP MPs - even if Labour need their votes to secure its passage
VE Day 70th anniversary: How ordinary Britons celebrated the end of war in Europe

How ordinary Britons celebrated VE Day

Our perception of VE Day usually involves crowds of giddy Britons casting off the shackles of war with gay abandon. The truth was more nuanced
They came in with William Caxton's printing press, but typefaces still matter in the digital age

Typefaces still matter in the digital age

A new typeface once took years to create, now thousands are available at the click of a drop-down menu. So why do most of us still rely on the old classics, asks Meg Carter?
Discovery of 'missing link' between the two main life-forms on Earth could explain evolution of animals, say scientists

'Missing link' between Earth's two life-forms found

New microbial species tells us something about our dark past, say scientists
The Pan Am Experience is a 'flight' back to the 1970s that never takes off - at least, not literally

Pan Am Experience: A 'flight' back to the 70s

Tim Walker checks in and checks out a four-hour journey with a difference
Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics - it's everywhere in the animal world

Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics

Voting, mutual back-scratching, coups and charismatic leaders - it's everywhere in the animal world
Crisp sales are in decline - but this tasty trivia might tempt back the turncoats

Crisp sales are in decline

As a nation we're filling up on popcorn and pitta chips and forsaking their potato-based predecessors
Ronald McDonald the muse? Why Banksy, Ron English and Keith Coventry are lovin' Maccy D's

Ronald McDonald the muse

A new wave of artists is taking inspiration from the fast food chain
13 best picnic blankets

13 best picnic blankets

Dine al fresco without the grass stains and damp bottoms with something from our pick of picnic rugs
Barcelona 3 Bayern Munich 0 player ratings: Lionel Messi scores twice - but does he score highest in our ratings?

Barcelona vs Bayern Munich player ratings

Lionel Messi scores twice - but does he score highest in our ratings?
Martin Guptill: Explosive New Zealand batsman who sets the range for Kiwis' big guns

Explosive batsman who sets the range for Kiwis' big guns

Martin Guptill has smashed early runs for Derbyshire and tells Richard Edwards to expect more from the 'freakish' Brendon McCullum and his buoyant team during their tour of England
General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'