Bodies and Funerals

Some people surveyed were relatives of those murdered by someone suffering a mental health disorder.[1] Like these people, Jeremy Bamber was offered no information as to how the tragedy had come about or advised of Sheila’s mental state before she killed the family. All he knew was that she was ill and had no idea how to cope before or after. He expressed feelings of anger, frustration and was upset that Sheila had killed the family. Many victims felt that they had a desire for the respect and recognition of their grief.[2] Jeremy’s own grief has never been recognized which is just absurd.

Jeremy had and still has very real fears about how much his family must have suffered during the tragedy, and feels concerned about the level of fear and anguish Sheila was feeling for her to turn the gun on her family and herself. Similar, to other victims, Jeremy knew very little about their deaths and police had not explained their theories to him about what had happened inside the house that morning. As time progressed before Jeremy’s arrest Police had increased their contact with his extended family and details about the scene were leaking out to these relatives and to the media. People surveyed also felt there was a lack of co-ordination between judicial agencies – in Jeremy’s case it seems his relatives demands were met where as his needs as an immediate victim were ignored.[3]

I asked Jeremy the following questions:

Q: “Did anyone from police explain the process of coroners enquiry?”

A: “No”

Q: Why did Julie Mugford identify the bodies?

A: “I was never offered the chance to attend the mortuary to identify the bodies.”

Jeremy Bamber did not identify the bodies of his family. He was severely traumatized and without prompting, Julie Mugford offered to carry out the identification on his behalf claiming she could tell the difference between the twins. Research shows that the sense of disbelief can last much longer if the victim does not see the bodies.[4]

Priorities of post mortem and coroners process mean that families have no control over the timing of the funeral, as it needs to take place very soon after the body is released.[5] Jeremy Bamber had very little say in the process of his family’s funeral, the dates were defined by the release of the bodies after the coroners report which found that Sheila had killed the family. Jeremy chose a cremation and was criticised by police and prosecutors later for this choice. Colin Caffell, the children’s father had arranged their funeral separately and this may have added to the sense of disparity which Jeremy could have experienced.

Male Victims of Homicide

[1] ITA, pg.40

[2] ITA, pg. 22

[3] ITA, pg. 36

[4] ITA. Pg.16 Brown 1993.

[5] ITA. Pg. 18 (Harrison, 1999; Riches and Dawson, 1998).