Shopkeeper remembers murdered bookie 20 years on

John Sheppard, who was murdered as he worked at John Horwood Bookmakers in Cambridge Street
John Sheppard, who was murdered as he worked at John Horwood Bookmakers in Cambridge Street

A couple who ran the business next door to the shop where bookie John Sheppard was stabbed to death 20 years ago have recalled the ‘horrific’ crime.

Don and Louise Valvona had owned and ran the Orlando Valvona tile and flooring business at 169 Cambridge Street – next door to John Horwood bookmakers – since 1983.

On the evening of December 3 1994, bookmaker Mr Sheppard was brutally murderedwhile Don, now 66, was working next door at time.

Don’s wife Louise, now in her sixties, said: “It was very upsetting for us at the time, to think it happened through the wall during shop hours.

“Don was still at work but he never heard anything. I don’t remember much else – the first we knew about it was when we drove past later that evening.

“We saw the police tape and the policemen standing outside and we knew something bad had happened.

“He used to park his car out the back and we used to say hello in passing. What happened to him was horrific.

Mr Valvona said: “We were shocked that something like that could happen next door and we didn’t know about it. He was quite a nice chap, though I didn’t know him well.

“I used to go in to the bookies to change money sometimes, but I wasn’t a betting man so didn’t go in very often.”

Don recalls feeling the heartbreak for John’s wife and daughter who he left behind.

He said:“He was the figurehead in their family, the breadwinner, and they looked up to him.”

At the time of the tragedy the couple, who live in Manor Road in Aylesbury town centre, were photographed laying flowers at the scene.

In the Bucks Herald report at the time, Louise said: “He was a friendly chap just trying to do an honest day’s work.”

Police believe Mr Sheppard was killed between 5.15pm and 6.30pm, but despite a high-profile appeal at the time, the trail went cold.

Now, two decades later, the police have relaunched their investigation and teamed up with Crimestoppers to offer a reward of up to £20,000 for information leading to the imprisonment of John’s killer.

The police are offering a £10,000 reward for information which leads to the conviction of the offender.

Crimestoppers is offering a reward of up to £10,000 to anyone providing information which leads to the conviction of the person or persons responsible.

Crimestoppers can be contacted anonymously on 0800 555 111 at www.crimestoppers-uk.org.