Monday, 9 October 2017

What really happened to Claudia Lawrence?

Hello everyone. I'm back with yet another unsolved case.
I've badly sprained my right ankle so I'm stuck on bed rest, which means I have some free time to regularly post again.
Also, it's October, so we might have to do several creepy posts in the run up to Halloween!
If you want me to write about anything in particular, just drop a comment. If you want to receive email alerts when I make a new post just submit your email address in the box on the right (desktop view) 


It’s been over eight years since anyone has seen Claudia Lawrence.

(Claudia. Source)

Lawrence was 35 years old and working as a chef at Goodricke College in the University of York at the time she went missing. She disappeared from the small town of Heworth in York, England, on the 18th of March 2009.

The last contact she had with her family was via two phone calls with her mother on the evening of March 18th. The conversation revolved around what they would do together to celebrate the coming mother’s day. 

In a documentary about the case, “Donald McIntyre’s unsolved”, Claudia’s mother talks in detail about the last phone call. Apparently Claudia was in her bedroom, it was between 8pm – 8.30pm and the two of them were watching the same TV show. She states that she could hear the show in the background of the call.
The following day, however, Claudia neglected to show up for work.

A missing persons report was filed by her father on the 20th of March and an investigation was underway.
When investigators entered her house they discovered her bank cards and passport were left behind, indicating that if she had disappeared of her own accord, it would have been difficult to get very far or survive for an extended time without cash or the documents to do so.
There was no sign of a disturbance or struggle and nothing of value had been taken. In fact, Lawrence’s bed had been made and there were unwashed dishes in the sink that suggested she had eaten breakfast that morning. It was also evident that she had brushed her teeth.
Her work bag, which was a rucksack containing her uniform for work, was missing.

(The brand of bag she used. Source)

 Her hair irons were also missing- could she have usually taken these to work generally as its hot working in a kitchen and flat ironed hair tends to lose its straightness in humid atmospheres.
Could the absence of her work gear suggest that she had left for work and met foul play on her early morning walk there?

Police found a home hair dye kit in the house and at first entertained the idea that Claudia had dyed someone’s hair, as she was a known to be a blonde. However Claudia’s mother informed them that her daughter had recently became a brunette and the hair dye kit was most likely hers. The brand and colour was “Clairol herbal essences fearless” in the colour “62” which is a good match for the last hair colour Lawrence was seen sporting. Dying over blonde hair with a brown box dye will often result in fading so it’s not suspicious (to me at least) that she would have to dye it again in order to make the pigment hold. 


Strangely, from this image, it seems as though she also bleached her hair. Maybe she had naturally darker roots and wanted to lift them? Maybe she was doing some late 2000’s highlights? Who knows?

Hair colour became an issue in the case when misleading missing posters went to print. Claudia’s mother claims that she did not provide the photograph for the poster, which was an older picture portraying the missing woman as a blonde. She fears this may have negatively impacted the search.
Apparently Claudia she left for work around 5am. She started at 6am, and would usually drive there, which would take around 6 minutes. However on the day she went missing, her Vauxhall Corsa was in a local garage, so she went by foot, which would take about half an hour via “Melrosegate”.


It was probably quite dark that early in the morning in March and there is one strip of shady area she had to pass by, which includes a small bridge and a road. As you can see on the map it’s around “Hull road”.


This is a picture of it from around 10 years ago that I found here<<
The website even pins down the exact location for us: “Ton the edge of SE6151, where Melrosegate crosses the Sustrans route 66


Someone who knew her would most likely know her plans so it would be easy to lay in wait. Could she have been abducted or met foul play at the hands of a passing opportunistic criminal? Could they have seen her walking alone in an isolated area at such an early hour and taken advantage of the situation?

The CCTV around Lawrence’s home was checked for any suspicious looking individuals on the night or morning of the woman’s disappearance. Around 7:15pm that night a surveillance camera captured footage of a man clad in dark clothes entering the alley way behind Claudia’s house. He disappears out of frame for around 1 minute and re-emerges with what looks like a rucksack or another type of bag over his shoulder. Suddenly another man passes by. The man with the bag stops in his tracks and is seen looking in the direction of the passer-by.

(Side note: I feel as though the “bag” was there when he walked into the alley, only it was over his right shoulder and so was obscured by his body. When he walks out again his right side is facing the camera so it’s easy to see. I also feel like maybe it’s not a bag at all, perhaps what we’re seeing is his elbows and he has his hands in his pockets so his elbows are protruding out of his silhouette.
Also if he had no bag, then 1 minute and 8 seconds later he suddenly does, maybe it was dropped in the alley for him to pick up which makes me think it would contain something illegal, most likely drugs and that’s why he gets sketched out when the older guy walks past, paranoid that he might be a cop or whatever. Could Claudia Lawrence have been involved in something drug related that got her mixed up with the wrong people?
Maybe the man in dark clothes was innocently relieving himself and has nothing to do with the case?
Do you agree or disagree? Let me know your opinion in the comments)

(Source: York police)

Then, around 5am Thursday morning we see a man clad in dark clothes again. He repeats the same action and walks into the alleyway only to re-emerge a minute or so later.
Although the men on the separate clips have never officially been confirmed to be the same individual, I personally believe that they are. They look similar in build and height and repeat the same action. What do you think? Feel free to leave a comment below.

Investigators later checked her phone records and found out that the final text message sent to her phone was from a male acquaintance on the small Mediterranean island of Cyprus, where Lawrence had holidayed several times and knew local bar and restaurant owners well. The text went unanswered and the content of the message was never revealed.

This lead was later followed up, when despite large rewards and media coverage, no tipsters or witnesses came forward. The police branched out their search to the holiday destination and interviewed the several individuals connected to Lawrence who denied any part in her disappearance. One man stated since he considered her a good friend, he would do whatever he could to aid authorities in the search. Some did not want to talk to authorities for one reason or another.

One of the men, all of whom were British, was on record as being in the UK on the day of Claudia’s disappearance. Coincidence?

The investigation then returned to the UK.
The more investigators interviewed the people who knew Claudia Lawrence, the more they began to realise that each set of people had a completely different description of her as a person. Work colleagues described her in a very different way than her close friend did, and her father, a local solicitor, claimed that he barely recognised the character his daughter was being portrayed as in the media.

Newspapers described the missing woman in a negative light, publicly writing about the secret affairs she’d had with older, married men. They printed photographs from her enjoying herself at parties and presented her as a wild and reckless seductress.
Although it was true that Lawrence had been in relationships with older married men and enjoyed an active social life that included drinking with friends at her local pub “The nags head”, she was still a victim. The negative attitude towards her in the newspapers that lined the shelves of supermarkets and newsagents while the case was ongoing likely made readers feel less sympathetic towards her.
Friends and family remembered her as a warm and friendly girl, a hard worker who had a lot of friends and liked to have fun and enjoy her days off.
Claudia’s landlord described her as a warm and friendly vegetarian who “wouldn’t say boo to a goose.”

None of the men she’d had secret relationships with came forward with information, and were not prepared to even admit they knew Claudia Lawrence for fear of being exposed for their extramarital affairs.

According to the “unsolved” documentary, Lawrence was involved with some pretty shady characters that were known to the police. They are unnamed in the show but described as “a rogue gallery”, hinting that they are probably locally known criminals- what level of activity they may have been involved in is not implied. This was a piece of information investigating authorities were apprehensive to put out publically, as they thought it would further hurt the case and deter interest from members of the public who could possibly help solve it.

In 2013 the case was looked at again, this time with the benefit of modern forensic science.
The 2013 findings following the full forensic review of the residence and vehicle include:
-DNA on an “Embassy Regal” cigarette butt recovered from Lawrence’s car. The DNA is thought to belong to a left handed male smoker. A set of partial finger prints (to this day unidentified) were found in the house but nothing came of it.
-Cell phone activity not previously known, including evidence that she had been in or around the area of Acomb, York, a month or so before she went missing. (Another secret boyfriend unknown to friends and family perhaps?)
-Confirmation that her phone was powered off deliberately at 12:10 the day after she went missing. According to those who knew her, when Claudia was not at work she was glued to her phone (a Samsung D900) and rarely if ever let it run out of battery.

CCTV footage from that night was also reviewed and surveillance from a public bus that passed Claudia’s residence showed a white Astra Van parked opposite her street on the last night she was heard from.



Another vehicle of interest is a light coloured hatchback thought to be a Ford Focus. It drives past Claudia’s property at around 5:42am. The brake lights illuminate indicating a sudden halt.
Police want to know why the car suddenly hit the brakes. Did they pick up Claudia; possibly offer her a ride to work?
Did she know the people / person in the car? Were they a stranger?
Or again is the vehicle completely unconnected to the case?
Could they be a potential witness?



You can watch the footage here << on the crime stoppers episode from 2014 featuring Claudia Lawrence’s case (which is where I took these stills from.)

Now how about Witness accounts?
-This news report mentions a witness that saw a woman talking to a man wearing a dark hoody and black combat trousers at around 5:35am. He was smoking with his left hand. This was apparently at the Melrose Bridge, which was along Claudia’s normal route to work.

-Apparently (as mentioned in the same news segment) another witness saw a couple arguing near a vehicle with an open door near the university. The man was wearing a dark hooded sweater. (I’m guessing that’s an implication he’s possibly the same man mentioned above?)
When police relayed the information to Claudia’s father, he did not connect the description of his daughters physical attributes to that of the woman in the witness’ account.

-The third witness account I found was regarding the sighting of a 55 – 65 year old male with mid length grey hair, dressed in a three quarter length sand coloured mac.

-Another sketchy individual worth mentioning is a man several people saw hanging around the area a few days before Claudia went missing. Apparently a man in “Rusty white van” was loitering around attempting to talk with women. Could this be the same van as the white Astra I mentioned earlier?

-“co-op man” is an unidentified male who, on April 1st 2009, told staff at the Co-op in Tang hall that he knew / was an ex-colleague of Lawrence. Although there is a still of him from the stores CCTV footage, he has never been identified or questioned.

(Mr. Co-op. Source)

Search
This case is probably one of, if not the, most expensive investigation in York police history. The surrounding area was searched extensively, including the university and the land surrounding it and rural areas around Heworth. Statements were taken down from hundreds of people and every witness and phone call tip was followed up.

Arrests
The first arrest made in the case was that of a 59 year old man in May 2014. He was outed locally as a man named Michael Snelling. Snelling was arrested by local authorities under the suspicion of murder. He had previously worked in the biology department at the York University, but at the time of his arrest was working for a York branch of the “mind” mental health charity.
He too was a regular at Claudia’s usual haunt “The nags head” pub, her local drinking spot. The two had been seen there hugging before.
He was out on bail not long after.

Another man, also in his 50’s, was arrested two years later in 2016 following a forensic search of the alleyway behind Lawrence’s house. However 4 men in total were released due to lack of evidence supporting the claims made against them.

Lack of cooperation from those who knew the missing woman are responsible in the eyes of the head of the investigation.

Every Christmas even for several consecutive years an unknown person hung a wreath decorated with white feathers on the door of Claudia’s home. When her parents publicly displayed emotional distress at the gesture and asked the anonymous person to stop, they did. This person was never identified.

2017
So there’s been some new buzz surrounding the case this year.
Recently articles in UK newspapers have been posing the question “Was ‘killer Cabbie’ Christopher Halliwell involved in the disappearance of Claudia Lawrence?”
If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you’ll recall we actually discussed Christopher Halliwell (who is currently serving life in prison) several months ago and even asked ourselves if we believed he was responsible for the deaths of other women? (Click HERE << to read the post.)
This article states that Halliwell’s father lived just an hour away from York. Not too far to go to pick off a victim.

The mother of a victim of Halliwell’s (Sian O’Callaghan) encouraged the public to look at the description of the killer “a left-handed smoker, 5ft 8-10in, with slightly receding hair and a skinny build.” Remember how the suspicious man witnesses saw talking to a woman on the morning of Lawrence’s disappearance was described as a “left handed smoker”? Quite a specific detail.
Now remember the police officer (Steven Fulcher, now retired) who believed he was in a race against time to save a young girl from Halliwell and actually got the murderer to lead him to two bodies by having an ‘unofficial chat’ with him?

Well Fulcher pointed out that the date on which Halliwell killed Sian O’ Callaghan (19th March 2011) was relevant to the date Halliwell was ditched by an ex-lover. Apparently that date was significant to Christopher Halliwell as it was the date his girlfriend broke up with him while he was serving time in prison in the eighties.

Is it just a coincidence that Claudia Lawrence went missing (technically as they believe she left for work) on that same anniversary of March 19th? Or does this fit into Halliwell’s pattern perfectly?
I know sometimes with these type of cases we so badly want to make connections when there isn’t any, but that was an eerie detail that is.  

Monday, 2 October 2017

The headless body found in Norfolk in 1974


On the 27th of August 1974 the headless body of a woman with her hands and legs bound was found on Cockley Cley farmland near Swaffam, Norfolk, on a road leading towards “Break Hill farm”.

This land was registered to a man named Sir Peter Roberts, 3rd Baronet (a hereditary title of the lowest order awarded to a common person who is generally referred to as “sir” if you were wondering), who was a politician for the Conservative party up until 1966. He died in 1985 and was apparently succeeded as Baronet buy his son, Samuel.

The man who discovered the headless woman was a 19 year old farm worker (also referred to as a tractor driver in reports) called Andrew Head. Apparently when he found the body it was wrapped in plastic. He lifted it slightly out of curiosity and only needed a slight view to identify that there was a dead body under it.

“I lifted one corner of the cover over the body and that was enough - I could see what it was. I went home and phoned the police.” (Source)

According to this article he found her in the overgrown grass by the side of a road.
I made my usual visit to Google maps to see what the location looks like and came up with this.


Apparently this is more specific to the place she was found.


As we can see here it’s pretty rural and is described as a village / civil parish.
I did some poking around the internet to see if I could get a feel of what the place was like in the 1970’s and was met with some pretty interesting information. 

Cockley Cley was a huge estate owned by Lady Roberts who began offering the grounds e as a refuge for Jewish children (many of whom had lost their parents) fleeing from the war in the 1940’s. Some of the kids came from major cities in England like London but most from Germany and Austria.

This is a picture of them together.

The information on this website was provided by a woman named Lillli Tauber who came to stay with Lady Roberts. She documents her experience here.

So back to the case. The headless Jane Doe was found deliberately concealed in overgrown grass.  

She was dressed in, what I would describe as a pale pink, short, swing nightdress with a jewel or bateau neckline that had pink ruffle detailing along the neck and hem. It was later identified to have been a dress available for purchase from Marks and Spencer’s around 1969.


She is thought to have been between her early 20s – 35 years old, was very petite in stature standing at around 5ft – 5ft 2, and may have been dead for 1 – 2 weeks before being discovered (as indicated by how badly decomposed her body was.)

Although the police appealed for information, nobody came forward.


She was never identified and authorities believe that she was never even reported missing.

Now let’s take a look at the items she was found with.

The plastic sheet she was wrapped in had the letters NCR printed on it. Police concluded that this type of plastic sheet was very specific and letters referred to the National Cash Registers.
Recently a group of forensic students in Dundee, Scotland, made some headway with the plastic sheet and the rope when they linked both items to a factory in Dundee (Jute factories) that manufactured items for several companies including NCR.

(Source: Norfolk Police.)


The rope is also thought to have come from the same area. 

(Source: Norfolk Police)

Interestingly on the Wikipedia pagefor Jane Doe I found out that police “suggested the rope was made for use with agricultural machinery". That’s slightly interesting. 
Maybe the assailant was a farm worker who simply purchased the type of rope that was made up in Dundee? Or maybe they were a shop keeper / worker who ordered a cash register for their store that had been made in the same Dundee factory and was wrapped with the rope they produced when shipping / delivering? Maybe the murderer was a delivery driver?

Do you think this factory really has anything to do with the headless body found in Norfolk? (other than the rope and plastic were produced there of course.)

Now police really worked hard on solving this case. Apparently they talked to over 1500 people in total and made visits to several thousand houses in the area. They searched the nearby fields but found nothing.

Her body was evenexhumed in 2008 in order to do some DNA and isotopic tests using modern technology. When working to pinpoint her origins they narrowed the area she was possibly from down to Germany, Austria, Denmark and northern Italy. They concluded that she had given birth at least one time in her life and that her diet was composed mainly of fish and shellfish. The water she consumed was believed to be found in Scotland.  

When her DNA was ran through databases, it turned up nothing.

The most popular theory concerning the identity of Jane Doe is that she is a prostitute who went missing in 1974 from the area she usually frequented for work- the docks in Great Yarmouth. 
She was nicknamed "The Duchess" and simply vanished one day neglecting to take any of her belongings with her. 
Apparently the majority of her clients were men who were often traveled for work, such as delivery drivers. She would even sometimes join them as they drove cross country doing deliveries- which sort of gives some weight to the idea I had earlier. I mean if he had to dispose of a body he would probably have things like rope and plastic in the back of his van, if he picked up cash registers from the factory in Dundee to deliver elsewhere he’d have both the rope and  to restrain the woman and the plastic tarp to wrap up her body. Then all he’d have to do is conceal her body by the side of a road in the middle of nowhere.

As for taking the woman’s head, was this an attempt to conceal her identity or something more disturbing? Apparently the Duchess was well known around the Great Yarmouth docks so if anyone was to see her face they would surely recognize her. Maybe her killer was the person she was last seen with and he didn’t want the suspicion to fall on him?
Jane Doe and the Duchess have never been confirmed to be one and the same, so for now, the case remains unsolved.

The murder of Susan Mayo, Suicide of Conrad Roy, The murder of Savannah Leckie,Freddie Laster cold case solved

Hello everyone!
Just to show you I haven't been slacking off on the cold case / true crime blogging I thought I'd share a few things I've done for the Generation why blog over the last couple of months. 
Hope you enjoy them!

You can listen to the Generation Why podcast here if you're interested.
This is their latest episode:




Also I'm currently reading up about an unsolved case from 1974 which has a lot of strange and interesting parts to it, which hopefully will be up in a few hours here on RLIH so check back for that.
(Also if you want to get email updates from RLIH  to alert you whenever I make a new post just submit your email address in the box on the right ->)


The murder of Susan Mayo
“OK my mama's under the front porch. Y'all got me”....
A woman goes missing in Wilma Alabama and her son, whom she lives with, is very unhelpful with the investigation and even failed to report her missing to the local authorities.
When police obtain a warrant to search the home, he comes clean. We take a closer look at this mans online presence leading up to the murder. READ HERE <<

Forced suicide? 
"You keep pushing it off and you say you'll do it but u never do. Its always gonna be that way if u don't take action"
In this article we revisit the suicide of 18 year old Conrad Roy who was repeatedly encouraged to commit suicide via phone calls and text messages from his attention seeking girlfriend over the course of several months in 2014.
READ HERE <<

The murder of Savannah Leckie
When sixteen year old Savannah Leckies adopted parents divorced, she decided she would move halfway across the country to live with her biological mother, 39 year-old Rebecca Ruud, on their rural family farm.
One day Savannah went missing, but judging by the items she took, police were not convinced she really ran away. Could a recent fire on the property be linked missing girl? READ HERE <<



The Geovanni Borjas case
When two young girls are found murdered in LA several months apart not far from each other could they have been killed by the same assailant?
How exactly does a crime like this get solved?
READ MORE HERE to find out.



The murder of Jimmy Prout
In a small town in the North East of England in 2016 the body of a man was found wrapped in a sleeping bag near a motorway.

He has been posed to appear as if he was living rough and had died from exposure to the elements, however he bore many injuries thaqt appeared to be the result of torture.

The real story of what happened to this poor man was way more brutal than anyone had imagined.
READ HERE <<

The kidnapping of Kala Brown
30 year old Kala Brown showed up to a the fenced, rural property of a client to do some work on his 100 acre property.

Although she had been Facebook friends with the real estate agent for a while and had also previously cleaned another one of his properties, this job would end very, very differently.
Kala and her boyfriend were in for a nightmarish fate, with only Kala managing to survive the ordeal. READ MORE <<

The Murder of Fred Laster
In the mid-nineties gas station workers discovered the torso of a young, Caucasian male in a dumpster.

The following year a young girl contacted police to report her brother missing.
She had last seen him with a local youth pastor called Ronnie Hyde, who was a pastor at the nearby “the strength for living” church where her brother used to play guitar in a christian band....READ MORE <<


Sunday, 20 August 2017

What happened to Trevor Deely? The kidnapping of Chloe Ayling. The Delphi murders. Cosmo DiNardo. The Beaumont children case solved?

Hey everyone, I've written about a lot of cases in the last few months so please do take a look. I'll write a short summary of each case so you can select which one you want to read.
These blogs were written for the Generation why podcast, where I write weekly blogs. You can check them out here, they are all about recent cases or recent updates in older unsolved cases. 


Where is Trevor Deely? 
Trevor Deely went missing on the 8th of December 2000 after attending a Christmas party. An unidentified man appears to be waiting for and following him on various CCTV cameras. Trevor was never seen again, but there have been some recent updates in the case. Read about it in full HERE <<


The kidnapping of Chloe Ayling
A 20 year old British model is injected with ketamine at a fake photoshoot and kidnapped. After being stuffed into a suitcase she is driven to a rural area and kept captive in a house where her abductor explains he will sell her on a live action on the deep web to the highest bidder.  READ THE FULL STORY <<

The Snapchat killer
Two girls are found murdered on a trail in Delphi. One of the girls manages to record a video of a man who is now believed to be the main suspect in the case and uploads it to Snapchat.
Read about recent updates in the case by clicking HERE<<


The Cosmo DiNardo case
Four young men went missing and were eventually found buried on 20 year old Cosmo DiNardo's family farm.
He posted Snaps of himself aiming a gun at the camera and making generally violent statements around the time of the murders. Read the full story HERE <<

Where is Matthew Leveson? 
20 year old Matthew Leveson was last seen on CCTV leaving a club with his much older partner after a row. He was never seen again and his partner claims he was not involved even after being caught buying very suspicious items on the CCTV of a hardware store the following day. CONTINUE READING <<


Marcus Volke
“I was cooking on my stove” a voice explained.
“It’s an electric stove and the stock pot boiled over, dripped down and got into the oven and basically made this big bang and then the power turned off.”
“Does it sound like something you would be able to fix today?” The man enquired.
Sounds like a completely normal call to an electrician doesn’t it?
Sadly it wasn't, and the foul odor from the pot on the stove was not that of pork broth at all... READ HERE<<


Georgia Jean Weckler
A little girl goes missing in 1947 after being dropped off at the end of her road by a friends mother after school.
Later an eye witness reports seeing a small girl locked in a car banging on the windows. READ <<


Is the case of the Beaumont children almost solved?
Three siblings set off for a fun day at the beach in 1966 and were never seen again. Does the diary of the son of a new suspect place the man at the scene of the crime? READ MORE <<



The murder of Alice Ruggles
When Alice Ruggles flat mate found her dead on the bathroom floor of their apartment, she knew exactly who was responsible.
“She’s covered in blood!”, “Her leg looks broken!”, “She’s blue!”
She pointed the finger of blame at Miss Ruggles obsessive ex-boyfriend during a frantic call to the emergency services.
READ THE FULL STORY HERE <<

Wednesday, 19 July 2017

What really happened to Andrew Gosden? NEW BUZZ

I had to quickly share this link with you guys.
I was on Reddit/unresolvedmysteries when I saw a user who did a bit of sleuthing online and thinks that they found a sighting of Andrew in London at a YouTube convention in 2007.

View the thread here

People in the comments section are pretty excited about it, some aren't at all, what do you think?

(The original footage from the train station. Source)

Now this is from the Reddit post. 
The bags a different colour- that's the first thing that strikes me.
This screenshot is from this youtube video. 
An update in the post states that the user contacted Andrew's father and his dad doesn't believe his son is in the footage.

There were a lot of kids who looked like Andrew in the series of videos and photos supposedly from the day he went missing.
Here are some more examples people in the unresolved comments thought were worth looking at.

1. From the video of a meeting posted here
(made by this user)

2. Group photo from what appears to be the same Youtube meeting back in 2007.
(here)

(I enlarged it)

This boy looks a bit older and taller (could be standing on the monument base I suppose) and his hair looks a bit longer (although Andrew did have a bit of a party in the back in other pictures)

There's longer clips of him here

Even if this isn't Andrew, this looks like something (other than a concert) that a kid like him might attend.

If you're interested in other peoples theories read the comments 


Update. 
Just found out about this post on 4Chan from an anonymous poster who thinks they may know Andrew, although he goes by a different name and is based in Wales.

(Andrew left. 4Chan users friend right. Source and thread)




Monday, 3 July 2017

The Tattingstone suitcase murder - body found in two suitcases in 1967 cold case



On the 16th of January 1967, a man by the name of Mr. Frederick Burggy made a grisly discovery behind a hedge in Tattingstone, Suffolk, just 200 yards away from the nearby A137.

(google maps)

 Burggy, a farm worker from Folly farm (some reports state “willows Grove”) Bentley, Ipswich, discovered two suitcases in the grass while harrowing the field on his tractor. At first he passed them by thinking nothing of it, possibly grumbling about how people always discarded their trash there, but the second time he passed them, curiosity got the better of him and he got down to take a look.

Inside the cases were the decapitated remains of a partially clothed teenage boy split between the two.
 The boy was estimated to be between ages of 15 – 20 and was thought to have been killed around two days before he was found. It was determined that he had died of asphyxiation as a result of strangulation (articles do not state if the strangulation was ligature or manual). The boy was also found to have been sexually assaulted.

Many years later in an interview with the Ipswich Star, Oliver’s younger brother had this to say:
“Bernard’s nails were manicured and he had a ten Guinea haircut. Obviously he had been looked after by whoever he was with. The police didn’t find his trousers, shoes, or underwear. All they found was his sports jacket in two suitcases. There’s just so many things that seemed wrong. I always believed Bernard was set up (to be killed).”

After having no luck in identifying the John Doe, police took a step unusual in England and released an image of the teenagers severed head to the media in an attempt to identify him.

(Ipswich star)

He was eventually identified as missing 17 year old Bernard Michael Oliver, who had neglected to return to his Muswell hill home in North London after going out with friends ten days earlier on the 6th

The boy was employed as a warehouse worker at a factory in Crouch end.
Oliver’s killer was never caught and who did this to him and why remains a mystery to this day, but what information do we have to go on?

Let’s look at the suitcases first.

(ITV)

As you can see in this photograph from the ITV website, the initials “P.V.A” are painted on the side of the case. What does PVA mean in this instance? Are they initials?

(suffolk police)

In this photograph of the suitcases from the Suffolk Police website we can see 3 suitcases (why 3 am I being dumb here? is one of them stripped or something?). 
One of them clearly has “P.V.A” painted on it and all of them look pretty flimsy.


Next there’s the matter of a small towel that was found in one of the cases along with parts of Bernard Oliver’s body. There was a laundry mark on the tag that read “QL42”. 

A laundry mark (as I’m sure you know, but anyways) is just an identifying mark to link the possession back to the owner when they send their clothing to be cleaned. As an investigator you could visit Laundromats in the area at the time of the crime and ask to see their records and maybe obtain some more information (a name, address, description of the customer etc.) from there in order to move on, or in the case of a ship or whatever (there’s a dock in Ipswich not so far from the crime scene) board whatever vessels landed that day and search the register for any crew onboard with whatever initials were written on the tag (in this case QL maybe?)

So for example if you find a Quentin Lennon on board the towel probably belonged to him, and was either borrowed or stolen from him or he’s suspect no.1 (or could at least provide the next clue in cracking the case.)

This website explains it very well.
This goes in depth about old techniques used by police in US around the late fifties. Pretty interesting if you have a spare 20 minutes. This is worth a read too.

(US air force manual)

The above example of a laundry code from a US air force website it uses the first letter of the surname and the last four letters of their social security number as an identification.


So the “QL 42” and “P.V.A” are the best physical pieces of evidence left at the scene that we have to go on for this case really. But what do they stand for?

One more thing that was found was a box of matches described as “marketed in Israel” but I couldn’t find an image or a brand name. Maybe police were withholding that information in case anyone came forward to claim responsibility?

So what about witnesses and sightings?
Did anyone see Bernard Oliver between the 6th and 16th of January 1967?

Well apparently “some people” did see him around the area he lived in, and also in Tattingstone. One witness said he saw a man wearing latex gloves as he walked by the docks in Ipswich. A woman said she saw a man walking alone in the direction of the discovery site on the night Oliver’s remains were found. She said he was clad in a trilby and a long trench coat and that he even had a suitcase in his hand.

Strangely, concerning the witness who saw a man oddly wearing latex medical gloves by the docks, two of the main suspects in the case were actually doctors (namely Martin Reddington and John Byles) with a history of abuse.

 It turned out that Reddington even owned a practice in the area that the victim was from and he even relocated multiple times to escape warrants out for his arrest. It turned out that Reddington couldn’t stop committing crimes against young males either and was even arrested on similar charges in the country he fled to. 
Byles also couldn’t keep his nose clean and eventually committed suicide, unable to live with the things he had done. The notes he left behind in the hotel room where he killed himself were general and did not take responsibility for any specific crime but apologized for "what he had done".

Yet another suspect (Producer and song writer Joe Meek) committed suicide with a shotgun(less than a month after the suitcases were found) and it is thought that he was a previous employer of Brian Oliver, although I don’t think it’s been confirmed.  He killed his land lady before killing himself.
Apparently the date was significant because he was obsessed with Buddy Holly (who died on the 3rd of February in 1959)

(wikipedia)

Notorious London gangster Reggie Kray also made the list of suspects, but never specifically admitted to killing Bernard Oliver.


So who really killed the teenage boy and why?
The case remains unsolved.