Sheila Caffell's body and Preservation of the Scene.
Last updated: 19.01.2015
Sheila Caffell's body was photographed in the master bedroom at 10:20am. She was lying flat on her back with her left hand on her left shoulder and her right hand over the trigger of the gun. The police stated that they moved her right hand very carefully to photograph the blood underneath on her nightdress. The Anschutz rifle was resting on the right side of her body pointing towards her head. She was found to have two bullet wounds, one under her chin and another slightly lower down in her neck. Curiously, both her hand and the gun are photographed in different positions as follows:
- The tip of gun’s barrel is seen below Sheila’s necklace on her left side
- Then the tip of the barrel is well above the necklace resting on her chin on the left side
- The tip of the gun is then shown not to be in contact with her body at all but pointing upwards from her chest
- The tip of the gun is seen resting on the right side of her chin instead of the left.
It is certain that when Sheila Caffell fired the first shot she was sitting in an upright or semi upright position as the blood had run down her nightdress on the right hand side to her waist. There was a lot of blood present on her right arm. There was blood on her fingers but there are no disclosed photographs of the palms of her hands. She also 1had blood spots to the sole of her left foot but there are no photographs of the sole of her right foot. Found next her were a pair of light blue bloodied of socks.
Resting next to her right arm and just below her shoulder was a bible face down on the carpet which was bloodied with fingerprints inside on many pages and it contained a note which was never given an exhibit reference and mysteriously disappeared. There was also a crocheted cloth found inside the pages of the bible which also vanished and was never given an exhibit reference.
Sheila looks very calm and composed, this is not the picture of a woman who was about to be shot by someone else. The prosecution would have us believe that Jeremy Bamber had shot her parents, and her children (or might possibly be going to shoot her children after her) and she just calmly sat upright whilst Jeremy angled the gun conveniently under her chin, shot her once, but didn’t kill her. They would have us believe that she still then didn't fight, but rather let him position the gun to fire another shot to finish her off.
If, as the prosecution stated, that Sheila’s schizophrenia was well under control and she was in a balanced state of mind as a loving caring mother, would she not have fought Jeremy Bamber tooth and nail to save her parents and children? And another question remains – What was Sheila doing while Jeremy killed her mother, father and her children (if they all died before her) and why was her body found in the master bedroom on the opposite side of the bed to where her mother was found slumped on the floor by the main doorway?
PS, Adams one of the senior firearms officers, told DCI Dickinson in his interview that after the firearms team had left the scene and were later shown photographs of the scene to assist them in making statements, they had queried the position of Sheila’s body. Adam’s Interview notes show below that, like two others of the initial raid team Collins & Delgado, he too had the same concerns that Sheila had been moved after he left the scene:
“Photo of Sheila not in same position as when I saw it”
Head too close to bedside table
Not sure about angle of head but something not right
No recollection of gun
Bible shown next to body, was level with waist 12” – 18” away
PC Delgado told DI Dickinson in his interview:
“Looked at video of photographs of scene. As a result PC Collins and I not happy with position of the bible by Sheila’s body. I was happy with the position of the body in relation to furniture. We felt they were real concerns and we spoke to DS Jones, DCI Jones initially reassured us body was as it had been. Later stage further discussion, unhappy as a group. Feelings passed onto inspector Montgomery and interview with Supt Ainsley arranged. Reassured body had not been moved. I’m happy to accept this fact now although in the back of my mind still a shadow of doubt. Were we clouded by what we saw because of the tenseness of the situation or could they have been moved ??”
PC Collins at the end of his Dickinson interview stated that they didn’t doubt it being a murder-suicide and also questioned the movement of Sheila’s body:
“Query photo’s – bible/head Sheila.”
Di Miller detailed in his pocket book that when he saw Sheila the rifle was "by her right side."
The gun was found on Sheila’s body and officially remained in that place until after photographing at 10:50am. The gun was apparently not moved from Sheila and made safe until 11:10am. What is a complete mystery is how the gun was photographed on Sheila at 10:20am and it then moved itself to the window where it was photographed just six frames after as the police photographer moved from the master bedroom to the top of the staircase. This was also reported by Channel 4 in February 2011.
This photograph was taken of the master bedroom window at 10:20am where the gun was not in the window but on Sheila’s body.
This picture of the same window was taken on the way down the stairs just minutes after the ones of Sheila Caffell with the gun on her body.
There are two further key areas which explain these anomalies. Many of the scene logs from the 7th August 1985 detail that large numbers of officers were being drafted in for training at the house, this included firearms officers who arrived long AFTER the raid had been carried out at 7:34am. A total of 66 police officers are recorded at the scene with 49 of them traipsing through the house while the bodies were in situ. One can imagine that the informative training would likely involve removing the gun from the body to make it safe among other exercises.
PC Chaplin was keeping a log at the back door to record who came in and out. He told DCI Dickinson that at 9:56am he:
“...was instructed by someone (don’t know who) to stop recording who was entering the house, as officers were by then using two entrances and it was impossible for me to record correctly who was coming and going. I do not know exactly who was in charge of the scene but it was whoever was the Senior Officer was at that time. I was never given any instructions to isolate the premises or restrict anyone’s entrance.”
More police and civilians entered the house the following day and in the weeks after the tragedy. The house was not fingerprinted for more than 4 weeks until after Jeremy's first arrest on the 8th of September 1985. After the trial DCI Dickinson recorded that only 29 officers entered White House Farm, all of these were fingerprinted.
In 2002 Dr Ismail provided a report on the position of the bible and the prosecution tried to introduce this issue to the court. The CCRC have refused to investigate any anomalies in the scene, preferring to favour the argument that Sheila Caffell’s body simply didn’t ‘look right’ because she had been moved by a murderer and not the police.