Mystery still surrounds baby’s death, 36 years after burial in village

The site where body of baby was found in March 1984  Picture: PAUL NIXON

The site where body of baby was found in March 1984 Picture: PAUL NIXON

Thirty-six years ago today, residents of a village outside Ipswich gathered for the laying to rest of an unknown baby.

Det Ch Sup Eric Sheilds with a towel found by the baby's body  Picture: DAVID KINDREDDet Ch Sup Eric Sheilds with a towel found by the baby's body Picture: DAVID KINDRED

That evening, a headline read ‘Innocent’s Funeral’ above news of dozens mourning the death of a newborn found dead in nearby fields days earlier.

Some arrived at Bramford Parish Church with flowers cut from their own gardens.

Locals turned out in a gesture to prevent the boy being buried with no service in a pauper’s grave.

The one-week-old infant’s body had been found dumped and burned in a remote part of Bramford Marshes in March 1984.

A press cutting on the funeral of the babyA press cutting on the funeral of the baby

A group of teenagers discovered what they initially thought to be a doll while sheltering from the rain

Although police pleaded for the child’s mother to come forward, believing she would be in a ‘distressed condition’, no one ever answered the appeal. The case is still unsolved, but remains open and subject to review.

While little is known about the baby, investigators established he was fed at least once before being killed and set alight in a make-shift fireplace made from bricks and stones. The cause of death was anoxia – or total lack of oxygen, resulting in suffocation.

The white, male, one-week-old baby remains Suffolk’s youngest unsolved murder victim.

An inquiry was launched the afternoon his body was found on Sunday, March 11, 1984, when a Home Office pathologist concluded the baby had not died of natural causes.

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

Detectives issued photos of a scorched towel the infant had been laying on, and a can which may have held the petrol and was found about 60 yards away from fields, known as The Meadows, where the baby was discovered.

Despite their efforts, detectives were never able to solve the mystery and were unable to trace a couple in their early 40s seen walking towards the spot where the body was found four days later.

The man was about 5ft 9in, stocky, with short fair hair, and wearing a brown hip-length coat and dark trousers. The woman was slim, had dark hair just below ear length, and was wearing a beige or fawn three-quarter length coat and dark trousers.

Andy Guy, major crime review team manager for Suffolk, said: “The investigation remains open, and as with all our unsolved cases, is subject to regular reviews.”

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