Brenda Venables went missing in 1982. Her husband David (pictured), who is now 86 and still lives in the area, ran a nursery on the site, while Mr Venables was said to have a piggery nearby. He declined to comment yesterday
Human bones have been found at a farmhouse – 37 years after the mysterious disappearance of the farmer’s wife who lived there.
Police went to the property at the weekend after the grim discovery.
Villagers said body parts were discovered in a bag in a cesspit being drained during routine maintenance.
The farmhouse on the outskirts of Kempsey, Worcestershire, is less than eight miles from the site where police have been digging for estate agent Suzy Lamplugh, who vanished 33 years ago.
But while West Mercia Police said it was too early to rule out a connection to the Lamplugh case, the force said it had no evidence to suggest a possible link.
Instead, officers are said to be looking at the possibility that the bones were those of the farmer’s wife, named locally as Brenda Venables, who vanished from the address in 1982.
Police confirmed it was a ‘line of inquiry’ but said they were waiting for the results of a post-mortem examination later this week.
Mrs Venables and husband David, who is now 86 and still lives in the area, ran a nursery on the site, while Mr Venables was said to have a piggery nearby. They were not thought to have any children.
Mr Venables declined to comment yesterday. As he returned to his £300,000 bungalow after taking rubbish to the tip in his car, he said: ‘I have nothing to say on the matter.’
The farmhouse on the outskirts of Kempsey, Worcestershire, (pictured) is less than eight miles from the site where police have been digging for estate agent Suzy Lamplugh, who vanished 33 years ago
Brenda Venables (pictured left) vanished from the address in 1982. Some years ago Mrs Venables’s name was added to her parents’ gravestone at St Michael’s church in Rushock, recording her year of death as 1982 (pictured right)
A relative of Mrs Venables said: ‘We have had no developments for 37 years. To suddenly be confronted with this major development is quite a lot to process.’
They added: ‘Brenda’s bank account remained untouched and there were no positive sightings of her after she disappeared.’
One local said: ‘When the wife disappeared it was big news here. Police searched my outbuildings and deployed tracker dogs. There was a suggestion that she may have ended up in the River Severn, which is only a few fields away from their farmhouse.’
After the disappearance of Mrs Venables, the case was treated as a search for a missing person and did not become a murder inquiry.
Mr Venables was never arrested in connection with his wife’s disappearance, according to relatives.
He sold the farmhouse to a relative for £467,000 five years ago and now lives in a bungalow around a mile away.
Some years ago Mrs Venables’s name was added to her parents’ gravestone at St Michael’s church in Rushock, recording her year of death as 1982.
Villagers said body parts were discovered in a bag in a cesspit (pictured) being drained during routine maintenance
A family source said it was a way of remembering her despite the absence of a body to bury.
Mr Venables told the Worcester Evening News in May 1982 how he had woken one morning to find his wife gone.
Describing how he had spent 48 hours anxiously waiting by the phone for news, he added: ‘She has never done anything like this before and I haven’t the faintest idea what has happened to her.’
He said she had been depressed as a result of a bout of flu. ‘I have been unable to sleep a wink since she left and I can only hope and pray that she is safe,’ he said.
Police used a helicopter to search the countryside, including the banks of the Severn. Last night a nephew of Mrs Venables said he hoped the family might now get ‘closure’ but the discovery of the bones raised questions over the initial investigation.
Mark Sheppy, 58, said: ‘If you go and dredge a river… why didn’t they look a bit nearer?’
He added: ‘It’s always been a mystery and now it might finally be solved. It’s not confirmed yet – but if it’s not her, who is it?’
This month the Metropolitan Police began a search for Suzy Lamplugh at Drakes Broughton, Worcestershire, close to the scene of a previous search for the missing estate agent 18 years ago.
Miss Lamplugh, 25, vanished in 1986 and was declared dead, presumed murdered, in 1994. The prime suspect was convicted killer John Cannan, but there was insufficient evidence to prosecute.
The Met said the Drakes Broughton search was the result of fresh information received after a search of the home which formerly belonged to Cannan’s mother in Sutton Coldfield.
Yesterday Superintendent Damian Pettit said: ‘This is understandably a concerning discovery for the people in Kempsey. Thankfully findings of this nature are very rare.
‘We have multiple lines of inquiry to explore and one of which is into the disappearance of a woman from Kempsey that was launched in 1982. At this stage we don’t believe the remains to be connected to the Met Police’s missing person investigation for Suzy Lamplugh.’