In the middle of lockdown I watched White House Farm on TV and then made a note to read The Murders at White House Farm by Carol Ann Lee, which I got for my birthday. It is the story of the killing of the Bamber family – Nevill and June, their daughter 28-year-old Sheila and her six-year-old twins Daniel and Nicholas by Nevill and June’s son Jeremy in 1985.
White House Farm was an Essex farmhouse near the village of Tolleshunt D’Arcy where Nevill and June lived, where Jeremy worked and where Sheila and the twins were visiting. Relationships in the family were fraught, with both Sheila and Jeremy finding their mother difficult, particularly her religious fervour, with Jeremy uncommitted to farming and with Sheila having mental health problems and having split from her former husband and the boys father Colin Caffell. Colin was not a fan of June and Nevill and did not like the boys staying at the farm, as they were scared by their visits and begged him not to leave them there without him.
On the night of 7 August 1985 the police received a call from Jeremy, claiming his father had called him from the farmhouse to say that Sheila had gone berserk with a gun. After that the police enquiry made a number of major blunders, all due to they initial belief that Jeremy was telling the truth and that they were looking at a murder-suicide case. Evidence was destroyed and not collected, alternative theories were not explored, and by the time a silencer on the gun was found and relatives’ suspicions of Jeremy were taken seriously by the police, the case they put together was a lot ropier than in might have been, relying heavily on the testimony of Jeremy’s former girlfriend Julie Mugford. Jeremy was convicted in October 1986 and now aged 60, he remains in prison.
This is a fascinating book, exploring the evidence in detail and telling a gripping the story of the family and the case.