Death in its many guises often intrigues us.  


High profile cases always have their conspiracy theorists, alternative theses, and “authoritative” publications.


The so called “Jack the Ripper” murders in London in the late 19th century were a classic example with publications still appearing to this day, (the latest being in 2014 claiming new DNA evidence).


Closer to home was the case of Harold Holt, Prime Minister of Australia who disappeared while swimming at Cheviot Beach near Portsea, Victoria on 17 December, 1967. His body was never recovered. Again conspiracy theories abounded. The government of the day did not deem a formal inquiry necessary. The Police report was considered sufficient along with its conclusions.


Whether a missing person or a murder investigation, locating the last person to have seen the victim alive, and the first person to find the victim, often sadly at that stage a dead one, is crucial to any investigation.


Statistically some murder investigations can be amongst the easiest crimes to solve as the victim is often known to the offender (with the exception for example of such cases as random or serial killings). Hence the process of elimination from the person last to see the victim alive be it husband or wife, lover, other family, the victim’s associates and so on until a suspect becomes evident. The “clear up” rate within Western law enforcement agencies in these types of cases is therefore generally high.


Missing persons however often become so for numerous reasons. Some relate to mental health issues and often go “missing” not necessarily intent on doing so and end up being reported as such by either relatives or medical professionals.


Sadly, some of these otherwise physically healthy law abiding citizens are located post suicide. Some may fake their own disappearance and are initially reported as missing as opposed to “wanted”.


In London 1974 an infamous case involving a high profile socially well connected member of the gentry was a one Richard John Bingham, aka the 7th Earl of Bingham, aka Lord Lucan, aka Lucky Lucan. Lucan was of Police interest in connection with the murder of his children’s nanny Sandra Rivett, and the attack on his wife Countess Lucan. Initially the authorities were reluctant to classify him as being a person that “may be able to assist police with their inquiries” and preferred initially to refer to him as being “missing.”


In hindsight it was perhaps naive to believe he would honour a pledge made to his mother that night to surrender himself the following morning to explain his actions. He was never offically seen again.


It was not until the evidence started to accumulate and the press were relentless in their hunt for Lucan that he became referred to as being wanted for questioning.


Alleged sightings of Lucan came from around the world. Subsequently the authorities took the unusual step of issuing a warrant for his arrest in connection with the murder of Ms Rivett. He was never located and was deemed to be legally dead in 1999.  In 2015 his son made application to claim the family title.


Then of course there are felons who disappear within the criminal fraternity who become “missing” and are subsequently found dead. This might be said to be an occupational hazard.


Some just don’t want to be found. Some don’t realise through mental health issues for example that they are considered missing.


Some like Marjorie needed to be found and never was.




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Copyright R Burton 2015

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