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Will 1967 Tattingstone suitcase murder of Bernard Oliver ever be solved?

PUBLISHED: 06:00 06 January 2018 | UPDATED: 06:55 06 January 2018

Bernard Oliver's dismembered body was found in two suitcases in 1967. Picture: ARCHANT ARCHIVE

Bernard Oliver's dismembered body was found in two suitcases in 1967. Picture: ARCHANT ARCHIVE

Archant

This weekend marks 51 years since teenager Bernard Oliver left his London home to spend the evening with friends - 10 days before his dismembered body was found in two suitcases in a village just outside Ipswich.

A clipping from the Evening Star after Bernard Oliver's body was found. Picture: ARCHANTA clipping from the Evening Star after Bernard Oliver's body was found. Picture: ARCHANT

Known as Operation Tattingstone, the investigation into the 17-year-old’s grisly murder remains one of the county’s longest running ‘cold cases’.

On January 6, 1967, Bernard left the Muswell Hill home he shared with his father and five siblings.

Police at the scene where the body was found. Picture: ARCHANT ARCHIVEPolice at the scene where the body was found. Picture: ARCHANT ARCHIVE

He was seen in the area by people unaware he had been reported missing by his father the following day.

On January 16, his body was discovered in the two suitcases under a hedge in Tattingstone.

With no clue as to the identity of the victim, police took the unusual step of sending media a photograph of the head.

Local and Metropolitan police were involved in the inquiry, which then crossed international borders in an effort to establish the source of the suitcases and a laundry mark found inside.

The dismembered body of Bernard Oliver was dumped in a field a few hundred yards from the main Ipswich to Manningtree road. Picture: ARCHANT ARCHIVEThe dismembered body of Bernard Oliver was dumped in a field a few hundred yards from the main Ipswich to Manningtree road. Picture: ARCHANT ARCHIVE

The first months of investigation generated thousands of statements and attracted national interest.

New leads were still being followed up the following year – but the trail grew colder with passing time, until police had only snippets of information to pursue.

An artist's impression of a man police were seeking for interview. Picture: ARCHANT ARCHIVEAn artist's impression of a man police were seeking for interview. Picture: ARCHANT ARCHIVE

Two main suspects – doctors John Byles and Martin Reddington, both wanted for the death and sexual assault of another boy – have since died, but Suffolk police continue to review lines of investigation in a bid to solve the mystery – one of several unresolved crimes on the books of the joint Suffolk and Norfolk Cold Case Team, set up in 2008.

Last year, one of Bernard’s five siblings, younger brother Chris, who was 15 at the time, told this paper of the trauma his family still felt.

The police investigation underway in Tattingstone in 1967. Picture: ARCHANT ARCHIVEThe police investigation underway in Tattingstone in 1967. Picture: ARCHANT ARCHIVE

Mr Oliver only found out about his brother’s death by seeing his photograph in a paper as he was boarding a bus in north London.

Bernard was the fourth of six children to be born to his parents, George and Sheila, who had separated less than a year before his disappearance.

Bernard Oliver's murder file is still with the cold case team at Norfolk and Suffolk police. Picture: CONTRIBUTEDBernard Oliver's murder file is still with the cold case team at Norfolk and Suffolk police. Picture: CONTRIBUTED

A spokesman for Suffolk police said: “The joint Major Investigation Team has its own team of police staff who routinely review unsolved crimes from Suffolk and Norfolk.

“It is never too late for people to come forward with any information they think may help this inquiry, even though the crime occurred more than fifty years ago.

The victim's image was published in local and national media in an effort to establish an identity. Picture: ARCHANT ARCHIVEThe victim's image was published in local and national media in an effort to establish an identity. Picture: ARCHANT ARCHIVE

“For each victim, there are family and friends who continue to grieve and who require closure. The investigation into this death remains open and we will not stop looking for the person or persons responsible.”

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