Partly Cloudy

Partly Cloudy

max temp: 13°C

min temp: 8°C


Bramford baby murder remains a mystery after 32 years

17:58 10 March 2016

016 Bramford Baby 3-a

016 Bramford Baby 3-a

Thirty-two years ago this week, a one-week-old boy’s body was found in Bramford. He had been killed and set on fire.

Site where body of baby was found. March 1984Site where body of baby was found. March 1984

Crime correspondent Colin Adwent reports on Suffolk’s youngest unsolved murder victim. He was only a week-old when his life was taken. Three decades may have passed, but still virtually nothing is known about the infant found dumped and burned in a remote spot on Bramford Marshes. He has no name, save that of ‘Innocent’, which he was given ahead of his burial.

Without an identity and in an unmarked grave, it is as if he never existed.

The painfully bare facts are that he was white, male, and one-week-old.

After his body was found on Sunday, March 11, 1984, tests showed the infant had a “separate existence” from his mother, and had been fed at least once during the short time he was alive.

A murder inquiry was launched just before lunchtime on March 11 after a Home Office pathologist came to the conclusion the baby had not died of natural causes.

Petrol had been used in an attempt to incinerate the child after he was killed.

Try as they undoubtedly did, detectives were never able to unravel the mystery of who was responsible for the boy’s death or the reason behind it.

In charge of the case was Detective Chief Superintendent Eric Shields, then head of Suffolk CID.

Now retired, Mr Shields said: “There is a lot of emotion that comes out in these sort of cases where you can’t get a result. There was a lot of hard work put in by the officers.

“You still think about it no matter how long ago it was.”

Medical tests showed the boy was a full-term baby.

Police appealed in vain for the mother to come forward believing she would be in a ‘distressed condition’.

Teenagers had found the body while they were sheltering from the rain.

One, a 15-year-old, kicked over an old car fuel tank which had been dumped by bushes.

Initially he saw an arm, but thought it was a doll.

Then he realised it was a baby.

The infant was laying on his back in the middle of a makeshift fire built up with bricks and stones.

In the days that followed detectives issued photographs of the remnants of the scorched towel the infant had been laying on, and a can which may have held the petrol used to set him alight.

The can had been sold by John Keeble garage in Bramford with a gallon of petrol in it.

It was found about 60 yards away from the fields, known as The Meadows, where the baby was discovered.

Officers visited schools, discos and youth clubs in a forlorn attempt to identify the mother of the child.

They also contacted doctors and midwives.

Nearly two weeks into the inquiry police revealed they wanted to speak to a mystery couple seen walking towards the spot where the body was subsequently found.

That was at 4pm on Wednesday, March 7, 1984, and the man was carrying a bag clutched to his chest.

The couple, who were aged 40 to 45, had been walking in Bramford Marshes from the direction of John Keeble’s garage.

The man was described as about 5ft 9ins tall, stocky, with 
fair short hair, and was wearing a brown hip-length coat and dark trousers.

The woman with him was slim, had dark hair just below ear length, and was wearing a beige or fawn three-quarter length coat and dark trousers.

Despite the appeal and an immense amount of work it appears the couple were never found.

The infant was buried on March 30 at Bramford Parish Church.

By this time he was known simply as ‘Innocent’.

To prevent the child being buried without any mourners in a pauper’s grave, women of all ages turned up at the church.

Some came bringing simple posies of flowers cut from their gardens to lay on the grave. Canon Ronald Christian, then vicar of Bramford, presided over the service.

The flowers left by the unmarked grave included a wreath from Suffolk police, as well as others from families in the area, and a bunch from one of the boys who found the child.

Thirty-two years on the mystery behind the little boy’s death is unlikely to be solved.

However, it is still subject to unsolved homicide case review by Suffolk police.

Anne-Marie Breach, a spokeswoman for Suffolk Constabulary said: “Like all cold cases, this is subject to regular review and remains an open inquiry.”


Welcome , please leave your message below.

Optional - JPG files only
Optional - MP3 files only
Optional - 3GP, AVI, MOV, MPG or WMV files

Please log in to leave a comment and share your views with other Ipswich Star visitors.

We enable people to post comments with the aim of encouraging open debate.

Only people who register and sign up to our terms and conditions can post comments. These terms and conditions explain our house rules and legal guidelines.

Comments are not edited by Ipswich Star staff prior to publication but may be automatically filtered.

If you have a complaint about a comment please contact us by clicking on the Report This Comment button next to the comment.

Not a member yet?

Register to create your own unique Ipswich Star account for free.

Signing up is free, quick and easy and offers you the chance to add comments, personalise the site with local information picked just for you, and more.

Sign up now

The University of Suffolk celebrated the work of its final three honorary graduates at its ceremonies on Thursday.

A motorcyclist was injured after a crash involving a van in Felixstowe on Thursday night.

Cineworld in Ipswich has reopened after drainage problems caused it to shut for several hours today.

Campaigners have demanded answers and greater transparency from mental health bosses over a “shocking” rise in unexpected patient deaths in Suffolk and Norfolk.

Suffolk’s pantomime season is almost upon us, but which of the county’s festive treats will you see this year?

Today I’m spending my last day at my desk in our Lower Brook Street offices more than 34 years after I first walked into the newsroom as a junior reporter, writes Paul Geater.

A Kesgrave man accused of attempting to rape a schoolgirl has been cleared by a jury.

A “generous” and “patient” school dinner lady was served a surprise treat as she said her final farewell after 44 years on duty.

Everyday our readers send in photos to iwitness24 that they have taken while out and about along the Suffolk coast, visiting one of our many beauty spots or while relaxing in their own gardens.

Today we reach M in our A-Z look back at the history of Ipswich - M for Miss Anglia.

Most read

Most commented


Show Job Lists

Topic pages


Newsletter Sign Up

MyDate24 MyPhotos24