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Former pig farmer convicted of the 1982 murder of his wife

July 19, 2022

In May of 1982 Brenda Venables, a forty-eight year old farmer from Kempsey, England disappeared from the home she shared with her husband of twenty four years, David Venables.

David Venables reported his wife missing after, according to him, he awoke one morning to find her gone of her own accord: "I just woke up to find that she had gone. She has never done anything like this before and I haven't the faintest idea what has happened to her."

Brenda vanished from the couple’s home on their nine hundred acre plot known locally as Quaking house farm, just off Bestmans Lane in Kempsey, in the cathedral city of Worcester located in central England.

Although reports at the time described the missing woman’s husband as fraught with worry, friends of the couple saw a different side. They described David Venables as cold and unconcerned about Brenda’s whereabouts, whom he said had been suffering from depressive episodes after being ill with the flu.

David Venables told police at the time, that nothing seemed out of the ordinary the day before his wife vanished. They had planted potatoes that afternoon and everything was, by all accounts, normal for the couple.

After David filed a missing persons report, police began to search the area from both land and air, utilizing police dogs to explore the farmland and surrounding area, as well as the land straddling the nearby River Seven. Overgrown hedges and bushes were even hacked away to provide more visibility and abandoned buildings were thoroughly checked in a search that lasted three weeks- to no avail.

News of Brenda’s disappearance travelled fast in the small village and tongues began to wag.

 Despite an extensive search, police were unsuccessful in locating Brenda Venables, and without any leads to go on, the case went cold for four decades- until an arrest was finally made in June 2022.

In 2019, the missing woman’s remains were found in an underground cesspit near the very home she was said to have voluntarily walked away from one morning in 1982. The remains were discovered when the underground septic tank was drained by contractors for cleaning in the summer of 2019.

One of the contract workers, Alistair Pitt, said he was concerned when he discovered what he described as "a large clump of hair." After further draining the cesspit his fears were realized when he happened upon a human skull. According to reports, a human thigh bone and pelvic bone were also recovered, as well as various articles of clothing including a bra and underwear, stockings, a sweater and what was left of a pair of shoes.

Soon after the discovery, police launched an investigation.

The skeletal remains were identified as belonging to Brenda Venables around a year after the discovery. A cause of death could not be determined; however, police believe she was murdered and concealed and could not have committed suicide in the manner she was found.

According to reports, when confronted with the news of the discovery of Brenda’s remains, Mr. Venables asked police: “What evidence have you got? These bones- are you sure it’s my wife?

When questioned further, the suspect claimed that the septic tank had been emptied several times over the years and said that he had no idea that there was anything of the sort concealed within the cesspit. The suspect sold up and moved from his farmland property in 2014.

Just last month, in June 2022, David Venables, now eighty-nine years old, was arrested on the suspicion of the murder of his wife. The retired pig farmer has been accused of murdering Brenda, whom he had been cheating on for several years, and dumping her body in the cesspit- an area of the couple’s plot that police overlooked during the initial investigation. Prosecutors believe that Venables murdered the victim sometime around May 2 – 5 in 1982.

Venables denied concealing his wife’s body on the property and stated that if he knew the remains were there he would have sold the farm long ago. Venables also said that he felt the discovery of the remains would be inevitable at some point and that he had no knowledge of them.

It has been reported that just days after murdering his wife Mr. Venables visited Lorraine Styles, a local woman with whom he had been having an affair for the best part of fifteen years. Styles, a mother-of-two, was a carer for David’s mother for many years before she passed away. Lorraine Styles herself passed away in 2014, however, she did speak to police in 1982 and informed them that the day after Brenda went missing, David contacted her to tell her before it was announced by the media. Styles said she was jarred by Venables composure considering the situation and told police: “He seemed quite composed and suddenly told me his wife had disappeared the night before and he was phoning to let me know before I read it in the paper. He called round about two weeks later but didn't mention it. I couldn't understand how he was so calm about the whole episode.”

David Venables was charged with murder and went to trial at Worcester crown court.

Prosecutors accused him of killing Brenda Venables and concocting a story that she voluntarily went missing in order to “get her out of the way” so he could continue his affair with Lorraine Styles. According to the psychiatrist Brenda saw when struggling with depression, Brenda revealed that she and her husband did not have a physical romantic relationship and had slept in separate beds for three years.

Brenda was just twenty three years old when she met David at a Worcester-based young farmers event in Droitwich Winter Gardens. They dated for a while, with David visiting Brenda in Rushock before eventually getting married in 1960 and moving to Quaking House, where Brenda would meet her untimely end two decades later.

Despite his protests of innocence, Venables was convicted this month of the 1982 murder of Brenda Venables.

 Sources: [X][X][X][X]

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