During the early hours of August 7th 1985, Essex Police received a call from a young man named Jeremy Bamber, who was at home in Goldhanger, Essex. He said that his father, Nevill, (also known as Ralph) who lived in Tolleshunt D’Arcy, Essex, had called him and said that his sister Sheila Caffell had got a gun and gone berserk. A car was despatched to White House Farm.
The Police car met Jeremy Bamber at the house, passing him on the way. They didn’t enter the house, but on seeing a figure in the window, they called for back-up. They had to wait some time for a firearms team to arrive, and after several hours after 7.30am, armed officers stormed the house.
They reported back that Nevill had been shot eight times and was found in the kitchen. Sheila Caffell's twin sons were found in their room, one having been shot three times in the head and the other five times also in the head. Nevill’s wife, June, was found in the main bedroom where she had been shot seven times. Beside June's bed lay Sheila, who had two gunshot wounds in the neck, and held an Anschutz rifle in her hand which rested along her body. It appeared she had committed suicide. Sheila could have survived for a few minutes after sustaining the first wound but would have died immediately upon sustaining the second.
The coroner recorded the tragedy as four murders and a suicide, but 31 days later, Jeremy Bamber was arrested twice. After his then girlfriend Julie Smerchanski (nee Mugford) claimed he had told her he had hired a hitman to carry out the killings, he was charged with murder.
The Prosecution’s case was that Jeremy Bamber had pre-meditated the murder of his family. At some time between midnight and 3am, after finishing a day’s work on the farm, and after taking the .22 Anschutz rifle out to shoot rabbits, he left the gun out and went home. Later, he had gone back to White House Farm on this hot August night in the dark, by cycling some three miles from his home to the farm via fields. The house was entirely locked from the inside and he climbed in through a small locked window.
Using a .22 Anschutz rifle, he attached a silencer and shot the entire family. It is not known in which order this happened. There was a violent struggle between him and his father who had already been shot eight times (Jeremy was supposed to be a crack shot and it looks as though things had not gone according to plan). He beat his father in the face with the butt of the rifle, knocking the silencer into the red paint work underneath the mantle as he did so.
It is not clear if he had already killed the others first, but he then removed the silencer from the gun, putting it in the downstairs gun cupboard. He also arranged his sister’s body, so that she lay calmly on the floor with a bible next to her. He then lay the gun down onto her body and somehow left the farmhouse locked from the inside. He then used the bicycle to ride the 3 miles back across farmland in the dark.
Jeremy Bamber had carried out the killings as he wanted to inherit £423,000 from his family's estate.
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