This UK cold case goes back 50 years but don’t turn away from it because of its age. I understand why the interest is often focused on more recent murders yet the older cases are the ones with the potential for the most dramatic results.
In brief this 11 year old boy went to a corner shop at about 1pm on Saturday 24th January 1970. This place was on the corner of Gerald Street, Benwell, Newcastle-Upon-Tyne. He was running an errand for his brother’s household where he was staying for a few days.
His body was found seven miles away (11 km) by 8 am the next day. He had been strangled and left in a water filled ditch on a rural plot called Callerton Grange Farm near Ponteland. The belief was he was lured by his killer as he walked only 50 yards (45 metres) back to the house
I had to do a bit of digging because the Callerton Grange Farm search did not immediately turn it up. I found a reference for it along with a post code (zip code) and this is what the terrain looks like now.
The area this poor child was found in is only a 15 minute drive away from where he disappeared. That is the drive time today. The travelling time back then was probably less. What occurs to me is 1 pm, even on a January day in our miserable climate, means there was about three hours daylight left. As it is unlikely the lad was abducted and driven straight there where was he taken at first?
What might explain this is the sighting of a blue van in the area at the crucial time. A friend of the victim had been playing cards with him earlier. Ken Brown saw a man shouting to his pal during his shopping trip. The man was telling the boy to get in the van.
He said the van had rear doors and one on each side. It had round headlights and chrome on the bumper. I had a look at a few that I could remember from that time and sadly that description could fit several on the road back then.
The man was between 25 and 30 years of age with dark hair. This was slicked back rather than long as was a fashion of the time. He wore a blue shirt and a Donkey jacket. For those from overseas a Donkey jacket was a workman’s woollen jacket with pvc on the upper back and shoulders. As far as I can recall they were always black.
Mr Brown said he told officers the next day but heard nothing back. It was only when the local paper, Chronicle Live, made an appeal years later that his memory was jogged again.
Forensics Taken At The Time Offer Hope – When The Time Is Right
All the detail matters little without a result. Time is ticking ever faster on this one. Allan Graham would be 61 if he had been left to return to his brother’s house that day. Anyone in their best dancing days would be mid to late 70s now. Anyone older has likely died. Recently a lady called Moira, who had been in the Benwell house that day, passed on. Allan’s other brother has been interviewed in some news accounts and he is about 80 years old.
It is not likely that a witness will solve this case. It is quite likely that the offender or offender(s) are also dead. However, the police have what they believe is a very strong bit of forensic evidence that they say is still on the outer edge of DNA science.
They are constantly being updated as to what the state of new advances are. The sample is too fragile for them to take a chance with right now. The testing of it could destroy it while there is a slim chance of success. It is there though.
You know what? I hope the killer of this lad is still alive. I wish him or her health into the future. Better yet I want them to be the oldest person left alive from that day. I want that sample to make them sweat for years yet.
Best Thoughts and Stay Safe,