Brenda Venables’ disappearance has been a mystery in rural Worcestershire for nearly 40 years, only revealing the truth when her husband sold his house.
Brenda Bolton met David Venables at an event for young farmers in Worcestershire, West Midlands, England, married in June 1960, and lived in a new home at Quaking House farm in Kempsey village. There, David raised pigs and enjoyed the beautiful scenery of the countryside with his wife. To outsiders, their lives may seem simple and idyllic.
But on May 3, 1982, Brenda disappeared. David reported himself to the police the next day. He said the day before the couple planted potatoes, everything was going typically. He saw his wife happily playing with the puppies on the carpet in front of the fireplace, not noticing that her mood was unusual that evening and also after they went to bed.
“When I woke up, I didn’t see my wife. She never did and I don’t know what happened,” David said. He said he had been unable to sleep since his wife’s disappearance and further revealed that Brenda was suffering from depression and depression due to the flu.
The village of Kempsey seemed to be flipped over in search of Brenda. Numerous police were mobilized, helicopters assisted in the search, and police inspected derelict farms and properties. They also cut down all the plants growing in the ditch to see if there was anything in it.
The search lasted about three weeks, spread across the 4-5 mile area around Kempsey, but found no trace of Brenda.
For nearly 40 years after that, no one had an answer as to what had happened to Brenda’s family.
Brenda’s mysterious disappearance was reported by the local press in 1982.
In 2014, David moved elsewhere and sold the Quaking House farm to his nephew for over £460,000.
By July 2019, the new owner of the farm called the service to clean up the septic tank on the premises. Terrified officers discovered a body with only hair and a skeleton, unable to determine the cause of death. Pieces of battered women’s clothing were also found in the tank.
At the time the body was discovered, authorities were organizing a search for real estate agent Suzy Lamplugh just over 10 kilometers away. She disappeared in London in 1986, at the age of 25. The search was launched after police had new clues about her whereabouts. But in the end, police confirmed there was no connection between the remains and Suzy Lamplugh.
It wasn’t until 2021, more than a year later, that authorities officially announced the body had been identified as Brenda Venables. David, then 88, was charged with murdering his wife.
The septic tank hid Brenda’s body.
At his trial in July 2022, details of David’s double life were revealed. Prosecutors said he had an extramarital relationship dating back to 1967 with Lorraine Styles, David’s mother’s caretaker.
Lorraine died in 2017, but her testimony to police in 1984, after Brenda disappeared, was used as evidence in court.
According to the affidavit, Lorraine said the day after reporting his wife missing, David called her. “He seemed pretty calm and suddenly told me that his wife had disappeared the night before, he called to tell me before I read it in the newspaper,” Lorraine said.
Two weeks later, David called Lorraine again but didn’t mention finding his wife, making it difficult for her to understand how he could be so calm.
A friend of the couple said David didn’t seem too concerned and didn’t appear to be actively looking for a wife of 22 years.
The prosecutor alleged that David wanted his wife to “disappear” to resume his longtime affair with Lorraine. He knew the septic tank was in a secluded location and considered it the perfect hiding place, saving him from murder for nearly 40 years.
That year, an officer on the search team told the judge that the septic tank had been omitted from the initial searches. At the time, the tank was just like a concrete slab and the police didn’t notice it.
David Venables, 89, showed no emotion during his July 2022 trial and pleaded not guilty to murdering his wife.
The prosecutor denied the theory that Brenda took her own life by climbing into the septic tank and covering the heavy concrete lid on top so there were no traces of disturbance. The theory that Brenda left the house in the middle of the night and ran into someone outside was also considered preposterous. If she had been murdered elsewhere, the perpetrator would not have taken the body back home for mourning. On the other hand, the septic tank is located in a very secluded and difficult-to-access place, if the perpetrator is someone else, he will not know that this can be a place where the body is buried.
In court, David said he regretted the affair. He said the relationship between the couple remained strong and they shared a bed until Brenda disappeared.
However, from the notes of the psychiatrist who treated Brenda’s depression in March 1982, the couple had not had sex since 1968 and had not shared a bed for three years.
During police interrogations, David also tried to blame Fred West, the serial killer who committed the crime between 1967 and 1987 in Gloucestershire.
The jury did not accept David’s not guilty plea. He was convicted of murder and served at least 18 years in prison.
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