This is a very strange case.
There was a quite remarkable segment (about 22 minutes) on iPM, a BBC Radio 4 programme, about the murder 50 years ago of Elsie Frost. It is well worth listening to.
There are several oddities following on from this:
It is difficult to find out about the case online - there is no Wikipedia entry, not even a one-liner in the list of British unsolved murders, and no even reasonably detailed account that I can find (from a UK IP address);
A Google search returns, at the bottom, "Some results may have been removed under data protection law in Europe", which refers to the infamous and, in my opinion, iniquitous "right to forget";
Official records have been suppressed for a very long time. The radio programme said 2042 but I have found one suppressed until 2060.
Here is a tiny extract from a book. I hunted a bit around the national archives site and it states the case file relating to Elsie have been suppressed because it 'Contains sensitive personal information which would substantially distress or endanger a living person or his or her descendants' - I wonder if this relates to John Spencer, who your link states was acquitted of the murder. This link actually states a prima facie case against an Ian Bernard Spencer was brought on the 11 January 1966 but this was overturned by a magistrate on 15 February 1966. Who is John Spencer and why is he named on the National Archives site as having been acquitted of the murder? Some people have speculated that John and Ian can be the same name when the person is of Scottish descent. Hopefully this case will start to get more attention and more information will become available.
They can be - an interesting point.
I also picked up elsewhere that "health and safety" as a reason for suppressing the archives is not as silly as it sounds - in this context it means that there could be reprisals against named individuals. (That said, by the planned time of release those individuals would be at least 120 ...).
Some people have speculated that John and Ian can be the same name when the person is of Scottish descent.
Ian is the Gaelic equivalent of John, but they're not used interchangeably; they're distinct, separate names. The diminutive of John is Jock (Jack in England).
Sorry for being quite so slow to reply to this!
I found something in the British Medical Journal. Apparently the coroners inquest said there was 'prima facie' evidence against Ian Bernard Spencer. The Judges disagreed and turned him loose.
Also another National Archive link on the case stating this one is closed for 85 years.
I noticed that the two closed files name two individuals, a John Spencer and an Ian Bernard Spencer.
And apparently the murder is gone over in this book:
Foul Deeds and Suspicious Deaths in Wakefield
And a couple of old news clips (no sound):
I see you were trawling the same sources as me ;) Snippets have appeared online from people who have privileged access to archives (as a holder of a UK library card I have general access, which only goes back to the 1980s).
In passing, that the decision of a jury was overturned by a magistrate is very unusual.
An article about the case published yesterday: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3044281/Why-police-want-hide-secrets-little-Elsie-s-savage-unsolved-murder-95-years-really-linked-Yorkshire-Ripper.html
I don't find it unlikely that Peter Sutcliffe might have been the killer. He was 19 at the time, and though he mostly went after prostitutes he did try to kill a 14 year old girl in 1974 who was out on a walk. His modus operandi was blows to the head with a hammer or boulder often followed by knife stabbing, and while he did sexually assault some victims rape wasn't a part of his modus operandi. Elsie was 14 and out for a walk when she got stabbed to death but there was no signs of rape - she wasn't hit in the head, but the modus operandi of serial killers often developed over time, so to me it isn't unlikely that perhaps Elsie was the first victim of Peter Sutcliffe.
There was a follow-up on iPM yesterday, which took up the whole programme. One of the three files on the case is to be partially opened to the family, and the general outline of the murder has been discovered in national newspapers. (Local newspapers are the next search topic).
Isn't it normal to seal the records of criminal investigations for quite a long time? The Jack the Ripper files were famously closed for 100 years, for instance, as are census records and a whole bunch of other things. Or am I missing something here?
Edit: thanks for downvoting an honest question though, whoever you are. You're the reason we can't have nice things.
The general presumption on sealing of records is 30 years, although that is progressively being reduced to 20 years. So almost 100 years for at face value a mundane case is way out of line. (The case "next" to it in the National Archives is an unsolved murder from 1957 in which everything appears to be available, including crime scene photographs it would appear).
I have listened carefully to the radio interviews and find that there is a discrepancy between what the detective says about the fate of the clothes taken from the Elsie Frost's body and what her brother and sister took to be the sequence of events. The detective says just that the clothes were destroyed at the request of Elsie Frost's father and that a lot of clothes had been returned to him. Later the brother and sister imply that the police had asked their father what he wanted done with the clothes, but that is not what the detective says. One would like to know more about Elsie Frost's father's motives. The brother and sister say that he would not have wanted to keep an anorak with knife holes and blood on it. That is obvious but why was it given to him in the first place when in every other murder inquiry I am aware of the clothes of the victim are kept as evidence, going right back to Jack the Ripper's victims. Did he ask for the clothes so he could destroy them. We are told that he signed a note requesting that clothes still held by the police should be destroyed? If so why? Evidently he did have an alibi for the time of the murder according to the Daily Mail article. But what about the uncle, mentioned by Elsie's brother as having picked him up and taken him out of the room when news came in about the murder. These days we are well aware that statistically most murders are committed by someone who the victim knows. If I may be allowed to speculate I suggest that the sealed files contain evidence that incriminates a close family member. As noted above that is the likely reasons for sealing the files, I just differ on whose family is being protected.
I have just created my first submission to this board about this case, also after listening to iPM!
I am sure it was said on the programme that the time the records are to be sealed for was extended after the family requested to see them and this was commented on in the interview as being unusual.
It is also odd that here is very little on the internet regarding this case. All I can find detailing the crime is an extract from a book, normally there would be more for such an unusual and brutal crime.
There has been speculation that the murderer was Peter Sutcliffe, the Yorkshire Ripper. (I am sceptical; at the time he had not yet committed any violent crimes and the modus operandi - stabbing with a 4" knife - doesn't match his confirmed crimes. However, he was 20 at the time so the claim cannot be definitively rejected).
Investigators have been unable to determine why all 4 of the hijackers that went on to serve as pilots during 9/11 made repeated trips to Las Vegas in the months leading up to the attacks. An FBI agent on the case said, “Everything they did was for a reason. I can tell you it wasn’t to see a show.” The four met six times in Las Vegas between May and August of 2001. They used computers at a cybercafe across from UNLV, met at a sandwich shop downtown, and at a Starbucks on Flamingo Road. The hijackers also made a stop at Olympic Garden strip club.
During one trip in late-June of 2001, the lead hijacker – Mohammed Atta – rented a car at McCarran Airport and rented a room at Econo Lodge on Las Vegas Boulevard where he put a Do Not Disturb sign out and then spent two days in his room with a view of the Stratosphere. Atta’s rental car had 110 miles on it when he returned it after about three days.
Investigators speculated the hijackers may have been meeting with others unknown in Las Vegas. While the FBI believes the final meeting of the hijackers in August may have been to finalize logistics for the attacks, the purpose of the five prior visits/meetings in Vegas are unknown.
Another interesting note mentioned in the source below is that 100 members of the Saudi Royal Family and relatives of Osama bin Laden were staying in Las Vegas on 9/11 (apparently bin Laden's sister was well-known at the Bellagio). After being interviewed by the FBI, the Saudi royals and their associates were permitted to leave Vegas on chartered flights.
Exactly what the title means.
I'm a forensic pathologist and even tho I'm young I've seen my fair part of foul play, freak accidents, homicides and suicides, but I'm also very into old crimes and my studies on psychology. That being said, I had my opinions about the two facts I'm gonna expose here way before my formation and now I'm even more in my team if that's possible.
Two things I can't help getting annoyed at:
In old cases, a lot of times there's some stranger passing by that witnesses first and police later mark as POI and no other leads are followed. Now, here me out, maybe this is hard to grasp, but most of the time a stranger in the surroundings is just that.
I find particularly incredible to think about cases from 50s til 00s and to see things like "I asked him to go call 911/ get help and he ran away, sO HE MUST BE THE KILLER, IT WAS REALLY STRANGE".
Or maybe, Mike, mobile phones weren't a thing back then and he did run to, y'know, get help. He could've make smoke signs for an ambulance and the cops, that's true.
2. "Strange behaviour of Friends/family". Grieving is something complex and different for every person. Their reaction is conditionated as well for the state of the victim/missing person back then. For example, it's not strange for days or weeks to pass by before the family go to fill a missing person report if said one is an addict, because sadly they're accostumed to it after the fifth time it happens.
And yes, I'm talking about children like Burke too. There's no manual on home to act when a family member is murdered while you are just a kid.
Everyone thought he was a psycho for smiling during his Dr Phil's interview, when in reality he was dealing with anxiety and frenzy panic from a childhood trauma.
So, what about you, guys? I'm all ears.
Possibly THE biggest modern mystery from Vietnam yet I haven't seen it talked about outside of the country. Till this day, local people and media would regularly bring it up with new speculations and theories.
Despite it happening relatively recently, the mystery has already taken up an urban legend status with more and more weird details starting to emerge as time goes by.
The absolute strangest thing about this, in my opinion, is that unlike those mysteries that happen over night, in remote areas with no witnesses and no chances for a proper investigation, this actually happened across several months, affecting multiple people with some still alive today, even the police and medical experts were actively monitoring the situation, yet somehow the deaths of these 6 people still remain a complete mystery.
It was the year 2002. The Tran's was a big family living in the rural area of the Thai Binh province, Vietnam.
The Tran's was more or less a model family by Vietnamese rural standards. They had 4 generations living happily together in the same area. The patriarch, Tran Van Rang (65 years old), had 8 children & by 2002, two of his sons and their families were still living near him and their mother in the family's lot of land.
The two sons were both happily married and had children of their own. They were hard-working farmers and over time managed to save up enough money to build their own houses right next to their parents'.
Everything seemed to be all well and good for the Tran's clan. But little did they know, things would soon went badly, really badly.
The first deaths:
The following recounting was provided by Tran Quoc Viet, the last surviving Tran's son. In 2018, 16 years after the tragedy, Quoc Viet finally moved back into the family's abandoned home where he decided to live his remaining days all by himself.
Per Quoc Viet's recollection in a media interview in 2018, the tragedy started when Tran Van Ut, his younger brother, started the construction of his new house nearby.
As soon as the construction work started, strange phenomena began to happen: cattle started falling ill en masse. Dozens of pigs, chickens, and ducks suddenly went berserk, slamming themselves into walls, frothing at the mouths as if they were trying to escape from something unseen.
Within only hours, all of Van Ut's cattle turned up dead, except for one single duck for some reasons.
A few days afterwards, the exact same thing started to happen to all cattle belonging to their parents. Soon the Tran's clan would be all out of cattle and they would not be able to raise any animals afterwards.
And that was only the beginning.
The Tran's oldest son was Van Viet (not to be confused with Quoc Viet, his brother & our narrator here). He was arguably the most successful among the siblings with already a house of his own and a five-year-old son.
He was later described as a perfectly healthy man in his prime, but inexplicably, not long after the construction work started, he began to complain about pains showing up all over his body. Despite being admitted to the hospital several times, no explanations were found for these pains. Van Viet soon had to stop doing farm works altogether.
Then at one point, just like what happened to the farm animals before, Van Viet began frothing at the mouth, his body twitching heavily. He was immediately admitted to the hospital, where he would slowly recover. This time, just like before, doctors found no traces of diseases or poisons.
After recovering, Van Viet returned home to his family but soon symptoms would start showing up again and he passed away some time in June or July 2002.
A family in turmoil:
After Van Viet's death. The same symptoms would began to show up in the surviving family members, tormenting them both physically and mentally.
Van Rang, the family's patriarch, would be most affected by his son's death. He began drinking, his moods and his health deteriorated rapidly. About barely a month after Van Viet's death, Van Rang would also pass away after experiencing a similar body convulsion episode.
But that somehow still isn't the strangest occurrence in our story, far from it. 3 months after Van Rang's death, came his first memorial ceremony. Per Vietnamese tradition, the entire Tran's family of 4 generations would march out to the cemetery where were supposed to perform the ceremony.
Among the family was Van Ut's 6-year-old son. Along with his parents, he would join the adults in mourning the dead. Just mid-way through the ceremony, the kid suddenly collapsed. The same exact symptoms appeared: heavy convulsion, frothing at the mouth, his face turning purple and reportedly he was dead within minutes.
Just as this was happening, dozens of people at the ceremony also collapsed and fainted, possibly due to mass hysteria.
In the days following, 3 more members of the family will be rushed to the hospital including Van Ut, his wife, and his mother. The mother Nguyen Thi Dao died in the hospital soon after. Van Ut recovered in the hospital but just like his brother before him, he would pass away after returning to the family's house.
After Van Ut's death, his wife would leave the family's house to never return, and mysteriously, once she moved away from the place, her health issues would disappear.
A fruitless search:
By now, news of 5 successive unexplained deaths due to a mysterious disease had spread through the country like wild fire. Droves of medical doctors, cops, and scientists of different fields of study would all be sent to the province to do their investigation.
The investigation lasts for a month. The investigators would look through everything, they took water sample, air sample, samples of any food they could find in the house, even samples of any living creatures in the area. Radiation level in the area were measured. People were interviewed.
According to Quoc Viet, during this time, he would also detect cops in plain clothes following him around. It's unclear if they were trying to protect him or if he was a suspect.
While all of this were happening, tragedy struck again as Pham Thi Tam, Van Rang's mother and the family's oldest member, passed away in the hospital. Strangely, this time the people who were taking care of her in the hospital also reported symptoms like unexplainable pains and occasional faints.
By now, the illness has claimed 6 lives of the Tran's family. And the investigators still came up empty-handed. Their final conclusion was pesticide poisoning. However, no traces of such poison was ever found either in the environment or in the bodies, and they couldn't name the type of poison in their report.
The details above were the facts that I was able to corroborate and piece together using reliable witness reports and media reports from the time period.
As I said, there were also heaps of speculations and rumors floating about, ranging from being interesting to being highly ridiculous.
Remember the one duck that somehow survived the whole ordeal? A neighbor of the Tran's later reported that in 2002, he captured it and brought it home, after which all of his ducks apparently would also fell ill and died while that one duck, again, survived and ran away.
There are also multiple stories of witch doctors, monks, and shamans who came to the house to perform their rituals only to left abruptly due to the allegedly powerful dark presence at the place.
And Quoc Viet, the only person still living at the house now, told tales of a evil snake spirit that punished his family because they destroyed its home while building the new houses.
Whichever reasons you choose to believe, there's no denying that with these deaths happening so quickly and inexplicably, it is a unique and truly terrifying situation.
Media report of Tran Van Ut's death back in 2002: https://vnexpress.net/them-mot-nguoi-trong-gia-toc-ho-tran-tu-vong-do-ngo-doc-2033043.html
Media report of the 6th and final death: https://vnexpress.net/topic/vu-ngo-doc-o-thai-binh-12702
The investigators' final report of pesticide poisoning: https://vnexpress.net/cac-nan-nhan-o-thai-binh-bi-ngo-doc-thuoc-bao-ve-thuc-vat-2043907.html
Edit: Oops I just realized that 2002 was nearly 20 years ago but the title said 10 years.
It still feels like the 2010s to me goddamn it.
With the approaching anniversary to 9/11 coming up, I want to bring attention to New York City's last remaining unsolved murder from that day.
Shortly before midnight on 9/11, Polish immigrant Henryk Siwiak was reporting to work for a cleaning service at a Pathmark supermarket in East Flatbush of Brooklyn. Henryk had worked construction, but due to the terrorist attacks earlier that day, his construction site was shut down indefinitely. Since he could not wait for the site to reopen (and not knowing when it would reopen), he sought out employment opportunities elsewhere, and found the job for a cleaning service at Pathmark. Henryk was unfamiliar with East Flatbush, and had his landlady help him come up with a route that would take him to the street where the Pathmark was located. The landlady did not ask for the actual address of the Pathmark, so she mistakenly told Henryk to get off at the Utica Avenue station. The Pathmark was actually located about 3 miles south of the train station.
Henryk did not know anyone from the cleaning service, so he told the employment agency that helped him get the job what he would be wearing when he showed up for work that night. He was to be wearing a camouflage jacket, camouflage pants, and black boots. He got off at the Utica Ave station at 11:00 p.m., and began walking west to what he believed would lead him to the Pathmark located on Albany Avenue. However, he mistakenly began walking north instead of south and got lost. At 11:40 p.m., people living on Decatur Street heard an argument followed by gunshots. Henryk was shot once in the lung, and tried going to a nearby house for help before collapsing. Paramedics and police were called at 11:42 p.m., and they arrived within minutes to pronounce Henryk dead at the scene.
Due to the terrorist attacks, Henryk's murder was not investigated properly. An evidence collection unit, which typically was only used in non-violent crimes, was used to collect the evidence at the scene. Only three detectives were able to canvass the area and interview witnesses, when there are typically 9+ detectives that are used in homicides. Henryk's killer had shot at him 7 times, but only hit him once. Henry's wallet contained $75 in cash, suggesting that robbery was not the motive. Due to the terrorist attacks, Henry's murder received little to no publicity and it faded into obscurity ever since. It still remains unsolved.
The only 2 known theories, are that his murder was a hate crime, or a botched robbery. Henryk's family believes that his murder was a hate crime, and that he was mistaken as an Arab because of his olive complexion, dark hair, and thick Polish accent. The police believe that he was accosted by a would-be robber, but due to his poor English, he did not understand what was going on and an argument ensued which resulted in his murder. Unfortunately, both the police and Henryk's family are doubtful that the case will ever be solved. There are no leads. There are no suspects. There are minimal witnesses. Henryk Siwiak is the lone homicide victim recorded in New York City for 9/11.
Police are now offering a $12,000 reward for information about his murder. They remain adamant that Henryk was "engaged" by "a group" shortly before gunshots rang out. They are still actively pursuing all leads, but the "residents in the area remain uncooperative".
The New York Times summed up this tragedy best:
To be the last man killed on Sept. 11 is to be hopelessly anonymous, quietly mourned by a few while, year after year, the rest of the city looks toward Lower Manhattan. No one reads his name into a microphone at a ceremony. No memorial marks the sidewalk where he fell with a bullet in his lung.
Occam’s Razor and everything. I feel as though the following are the most simple but in my opinion, the most probable explanations;
Brian Shaffer somehow managed to evade being seen on the CCTV and left the bar that night. Something happened to him on the way home. I just think it seems so implausible that he’s buried somewhere in the bar or that he started a new life. Stranger things have happened though I guess. I do think it’s interesting though that the police thought he had started a new life for a few years after he went missing. I’m not sure if they still think this. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Disappearance_of_Brian_Shaffer
I believe that Sneha Philip went missing the night before 9/11 and that the events of that day meant that who ever was responsible for very lucky.
I think that Lauren Spierer was abducted after she left Jay’s apartment. I just don’t think all the guys who were there that night would have been able to it cover up if something happened to her in the apartment. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Disappearance_of_Lauren_Spierer
I think Ray Gricar decided to commit suicide that day and that he destroyed his computer/hard drive for client confidentiality reasons.
I know this has been covered before, and I know it is very well known, but it's been four years since a full write-up, from what I can see. I thought an extensive update might make it worth the refresher, and also keep this little girl's memory alive in light of the most recent developments, which I fear has sent the case back into the "cold" box.
I will also acknowledge that I've used a variety of sources and pieced this together as best I can, and I am not an expert, so if you see an error, please kindly point it out.
Cheryl Gene Grimmer was abducted from the shower block of a New South Wales Beach on 12 January, 1970. Cheryl's remains have never been found, however, she was declared legally dead in 2011. Her murderer has (almost) never been found.
Cheryl was born in 1966 in Bristol, UK, in to parents Carole and Vince, they were 26 and 24 in 1970. The family migrated to Australia in 1968 with their four children. At the time of Cheryl's disappearance their ages were:
On 12 January 1970, the whole family went to the beach at Fairy Meadow, a suburb of Wollongong in New South Wales. Vince was absent because he was away working for the Australian Army as a sapper.
When the family decided to leave at around 1:30pm, the children went to the shower block together while Carole packed up their belongings. While she was doing so, Ricki returned to tell his mother that Cheryl was refusing to leave the shower block. This was after about ten minutes. Carole followed Ricki back to the shower block to collect Cheryl, and couldn't find her. Lifeguards became involved in the search and, because there was no phone nearby, Carole went to a nearby house and asked them to call the police.
Several witnesses immediately came forward and claimed that they'd seen a man holding Cheryl up so she could drink from a water fountain. The man then wrapped her in a towel and ran off with her in his arms. However, Ricki had picked Cheryl up himself to help her have a drink, and so it was believed that the witnesses were mistaken. Other witnesses also claimed to see Cheryl in a white car.
Cheryl's disappearance sparked a massive manhunt and search for the missing toddler. Within a day, the New South Wales Police announced that they had four theories:
She was hiding and had fallen asleep somewhere
She had wandered into the ocean and drowned
She had fallen into some other waterway
She was kidnapped
It wasn't long before police dismissed the first three possibilities and began pursuing other leads, including investigating a blue Volkswagen Type 2 van which had been spotted in the area. It was soon obvious that police firmly believed she had been abducted.
On day three of the investigation, police received a ransom note which stated that Cheryl was unharmed and demanding $10,000.
Police disguised themselves as council workers and arranged the ransom drop in the Wollongong suburb of Bulli, but nobody showed up. Police originally feared that the kidnapper had been spooked by their presence. The person who wrote the note never contacted police again and, in the end, it was concluded that it had all been a hoax.
Although the police had three main suspects, none could be positively identified as the man witnesses reported seeing.
In 1971, eighteen months after Cheryl's disappearance, a local teenager (aged 15-16) confessed to abducting and murdering her. He gave an overview of what occurred that day, how he restrained and murdered Cheryl, and telling them about a property where there was a cattle guard, a tubular gate, and a pathway leading over a creek.
The suspect took them to the corner of Brokers and Balgownie roads and showed them where he thought her body could be found. He was unsure because the area had undergone residential development since.
Police interviewed the owner of the property, who contradicted the suspect's description of what the property looked like at the time, including the cattle guard, the gate, and the pathway. These inconsistencies led police to believe it was a false confession and he was released.
Despite many appeals and a $5000 reward offered by the New South Wales government, there were no developments in the inquiry and the case went cold.
2000's Appeal for Information:
** Just an acknowledgement that Cheryl Grimmer's father, Vince, passed away in 2004, aged 58. I hope he rests in peace **
I can't find a date, but in the 2000's the New South Wales Police Minister Michael Gallagher spoke of the possibility that both Cheryl and her abductor are dead, but he also acknowledged the possibility that she may still be alive, encouraging anyone who believed they may be Cheryl to come forward. One of Cheryl's unique physical characteristics was a belly button which protruded one centimetre due to a medical condition.
In 2008 a woman who believed that she might be Cheryl submitted DNA, but it was not a match.
In May 2011, a coroner formally ruled that Cheryl had died shortly after going missing. The coroner also recommended that police reopen the investigation. Police posted a $100,000 reward for information regarding Cheryl's disappearance.
At this time, and probably until the day she died, Carole Grimmer believed that her daughter was still alive.
Wollongong detectives and the Homicide Squad's Unsolved Homicide Team combined to create a new task force called 'Strike Force Wessell'.
Carole Grimmer died in 2014, aged 70, and again I sincerely hope she rests in peace.
2016 - 20l9:
In 2016, police carried out a review of all documentation relating to Cheryl's disappearance, and all evidence was digitised, including witness statements, for the first time.
This review lead to police uncovering many new leads, and also revealed information that had not been pursued thoroughly in the original investigation. This was particularly the case with the 1971 confession of the teenage boy.
Returning to the place the teen told them he'd dumped Cheryl's body, police questioned the owner's son, who contradicted his father, stating that the cattle guard was "certainly" there at the time, and that he also remembered a tubular gate and a track leading over the creek.
At the end of 2016, police announced that three witnesses had come forward and recalled a teenager loitering around the shower blocks. Several witnesses reported seeing a teenage boy around 180cm tall, with fair skin, of a medium build, with brown hair and blue eyes, who was "loitering" around the surf club pavilion. This information was never discovered in the initial investigation.
Police declared that they had a credible lead on a man who was seen carrying a child at the time of Cheryl's disappearance, stating that he would be in his 60s by now and urging him to come forward.
In January 2017, police focused their attention on the Mount Penang Training School for Boys, where it was believed the suspect attended in the early 1970s. The new line of investigation implied that someone had given them information that former staff or residents might be able to help with the inquiry.
On 22 March 2017, a man was arrested in the Frankston, Melbourne, Victoria, and was being extradited to New South Wales. He was charged with Cheryl's abduction and murder at Wollongong Police Station and was held at the Silverwater Correctional Complex in Sydney.
Police stated that Cheryl likely died within one hour of being abducted, and that it is unlikely her body would ever be found because the once rural area was now highly developed.
Building the case:
In April 2017, New South Wales police announced that they were trying to trace a family who gave a witness statement on the day of the abduction. The family had moved to Papua New Guinea and then to Nottinghamshire soon after Cheryl's abduction. With assistance from Interpol, they were located, and their testimonies were expected to be crucial in the proceedings.
Probably not to anyone's surprise here, police announced in May that the man they had in custody was the same person who'd confessed to Cheryl's murder in 1971. Now a 63-year-old man, he was born in Britain and had been in Australia since the late 1960s. He has never been named, as he was a minor at the time of the abduction.
**T/W - suicide ideation and murder details ***
Allegedly, the suspect had told doctors a year before the crime that he had urges "to kill himself and kill other people". This had apparently not been looked into when he confessed in 1971.
In his original statement, the suspect had said that, after the abduction, he had gagged Cheryl with a handkerchief and tied her hands behind her back with a shoelace, then hidden with her in a nearby drain for around half an hour. After emerging from the drain, he took her three kilometres by foot to Balgownie , where he intended to sexually assault her. In court in 2017, the accused denied having ever said that, calling it "bullshit".
He'd also told police Cheryl had started to scream when the handkerchief was removed and, in an attempt to silence her, he strangled her to death. The accused had said he'd panicked, took off her clothing, and placed "bushes and dirt" over the body. Then he went back to the beach.
The confession also included information that he wouldn't have known unless he'd seen Cheryl that day, at the very least.
The suspect was due to stand before the court in May 2017, but a key piece of evidence was deemed inadmissible by the judge. It is unclear to me what this evidence was. The prosecution dropped the charges against the him in February, 2017.
This case sent shockwaves through New South Wales and Australia as a whole, and remains one of our most notorious and devastating unsolved mysteries to this day. In the 1970's, case became so well known in that the Grimmer family relocated back to England for ten years afterwards to escape the notoriety.
As mentioned, Carole and Vince Grimmer both passed away without knowing what happened to their daughter.
Cheryl's brother Ricki, who left her at the shower block to retrieve his mother, has been affected his whole life by his sister's disappearance. When asked by reporters if he's ever forgiven himself (what a shitty question to ask someone) he replied, "Never, ever. I never will. Everybody says, 'It wasn't your fault' but come and stand where I am standing and see what it feels like." Ricki was never interviewed by police at the time of his little sister's abduction.
I can't even begin to imagine the torment of 50 years of agony for Cheryl's family, let alone having a confessed suspect be released from custody when it must have felt so close to possible closure.
I hope they get It someday.
To be honest, it's difficult to come to any conclusion other than the most obvious one. All I can say is I've got no doubt there are numerous people working behind the scenes to bring new evidence to the table, and find justice for little Cheryl and her family before her murderer passes away.
NSW Police outline of the case: https://www.police.nsw.gov.au/can_you_help_us/rewards/1000000_reward/disappearance_of_cheryl_grimmer
Illawarra Mercury 2019, Ricki Grimmer never interviewed: https://www.illawarramercury.com.au/story/6118440/last-person-to-see-little-cheryl-alive-never-interviewed-by-police/
Well, after researching a few cases of disappearances I needed a bit of less dreadful stuff to look into.
I went into a rabbit hole and came out with some weird stuff I had never heard about. I refined the bunch of odd phenomena and myths I found down to those which are most likely to have an explanation that just hasn't been found yet.
Sometimes it's good to have a break from the doom and gloom of missing people and unidentified murderers.
1. Kalkajaka, Queensland
First I will acknowledge the traditional owners of the land where Kalkajaka rests, the Eastern Kuku Yalanji People. Indigenous history is based in spirituality and connection to their land, and the Kuku Yalanji People attribute this conglomerate of mysteries to the spiritual history of the location, which is a Sacred Site.
Kalkajaka, also known as Black Mountain, is a landform of black granite boulders, which some have dubbed it the ‘Bermuda Triangle’ of far north Queensland. There are post-colonial stories dating back 150 years with reports of people, horses and whole herds of cattle vanishing in or around the boulders. Even those sent into the caves to research and rescue have been reported as not coming out again. It is closed to visitors.
More about Kalkajaka: https://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-10-21/mysterious-black-mountain/10067072
2. The Patanela
October 16 1988, a 19-metre schooner called the Patanela set off from Fremantle, WA, headed for Queensland. The vessel was famous for its Antarctic voyages, and had some of the best navigational equipment available. The man who built it, perhaps ominously, had said it was unsinkable.
As it approached Sydney Harbour on a calm and quiet November evening the Patanela, and every human onboard, vanished into thin air. A mysterious message in a bottle was found on a beach few weeks later on New Year's Eve, found to be written by a crewman.
More on the Patalena: https://www.sail-world.com/-41243/
3. Marree Man
Just outside the Outback desert town of Marree is the second largest geoglyph in the world. It was only discovered by accident in 1998, and nobody knows who created it or how long it’s actually been there (Edit: This is incorrect. Satellite images prove it appeared some time after May 1998).
Depicting a human figure and carved into the earth, Marree Man is 2.7km long with a perimeter of 28km, and covers an area over about 2.5km/sq. Its so large it can be seen from space. There is some speculation about Marree Man's origins, but no firm proof about who created the geolyph.
Marree Man can only be seen from the air, as ground access is closed to the public.
More on Marree Man: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marree_Man
4. Min Min Lights
In an outback town in western Queensland, a mysterious light phenomena appears after dark.
The first known (more likely should read the first recorded) encounter of the Min Min Lights was in the early 1900's, and they have been described by witnesses as mostly white, but sometimes yellow, red, green and even blue. They appear as floating, fast-moving, fuzzy-edged balls that glow and follow people. Some people have claimed to become disoriented and unwell.
Indigenous people of the region where these appear believe these lights are related to ancestral spirits. Scientific researchers have posed a few theories - frkm distant car headlights to owls and bats - but there is no official conclusion as to what these mysterious lights are, or if they even exist at all.
More on the Min Min Lights: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Min_Min_light
5. Outback Cattle Mutilation Mystery
I'd only ever heard of this being a thing in the US, so was interested to know this mystery has been reported in Australia, aswell.
Similar to reports in other parts of the world, farmers in remote areas of Australia have discovered mutilated cattle, including surgically removed body parts and strange shapes precisely cut into their bodies. After a few years of "she'll be right mate" (in true Aussie style) one farmer went public to try to find out what - or who - was behind this phenomenon.
More on the cattle mystery: https://7news.com.au/spotlight/the-ufo-phenomenon-australias-cattle-mutilation-mystery-c-3035029
6. Hawksberry River Monster
So apparently New South Wales has its very own Loch Ness Monster. Who knew?
Sightings date back thousands of years, when the Dharuk people created rock art of a creature with a long neck, thick body, and two sets of flippers. Since colonisation there have been several reported sightings.
In rural Polk County, Oregon, the remains of a woman were found wrapped up in tarp and rope in September 1996. She was identified as Kathy Clifton in 2019.
Kathy Clifton lived in Salem with her husband. She was last seen in March 1996 after reporting a hit-and-run to Salem Police. She was never reported missing.
25 years after her body was found, Kathy's husband, Brian Clifton, was arrested and charged with first-degree murder in the case of his wife.
A month after Kathy's remains were found, Brian remarried, despite there being no record of divorce between them, and moved out of the state. Brian was also previously convicted of murdering a Portland woman in the 1970s, and was given life sentence, but only served seven years.
Brian was found living in Oklahoma and questioned before given a search warrant for his DNA. This is an excerpt from the article:
“He basically told us if that DNA shows it’s me then I’m guilty and I’ll tell you then what happened,” Williams said. “Well then we came in in August and said, ‘There you go, buddy, read it.’ And he read it, every page, and within 20 minutes he started telling us he killed her.”