Suffolk

Brother's anguish over Tattingstone 'suitcase murder'

Tony Oliver reads newspaper cuttings about his brother's murder
Image caption Tony Oliver has read dozens of newspaper cuttings about his brother's murder

Not a week passes without Tony Oliver thinking back to the gruesome death of his brother nearly 45 years ago.

It was 16 January 1967 when a farm worker discovered two suitcases dumped in a field in Tattingstone, near Ipswich.

Inside was 17-year-old Bernard Oliver's body, neatly carved into eight pieces.

The crime made national headlines and remains one of the most brutal ever investigated by Suffolk police.

It is also notorious for the appeal made by detectives.

With no idea who the remains belonged to, police took the remarkable decision to release a photograph to the press of the teenager's severed head.

The tactic worked as his family came forward after seeing the images published.

But despite a major investigation spanning decades, no-one was ever brought to justice.

'Spine chilling'

Mr Oliver, 57, the youngest of six children raised in Muswell Hill, north London, said: "There are times, even now, when I can't believe what happened.

Image caption Tony Oliver was 13 when his brother Bernard was murdered

"I think we could have accepted it in a different way if Bernard had been shot or killed in a fight.

"But the way his body was dissected, in such a clinical way, was spine chilling. And then to see his head in a newspaper - it's hard to come to terms with.

"I can't bury it. I don't think I ever go a week without thinking about Bernard."

Mr Oliver, who shared a bedroom with Bernard, has never spoken publicly about the murder but has vivid memories of the time.

"When his body was found I was just hollow," said Mr Oliver.

"I just kept asking myself: 'why?' What was the motive? Why Tattingstone? Suffolk felt a million miles away in those days."

Post-mortem tests showed Bernard died from strangulation before being cut up. He was also sexually assaulted.

Bernard, who had learning disabilities, had talked about leaving home.

He spent the "odd night" at friends' houses but had never gone missing.

"I idolised him in many ways," said Mr Oliver.

"He could be humorous but normally kept himself to himself."

Bernard was last seen on 6 January 1967 in Muswell Hill.

Ten days later he was found dead - and the story behind the murder started to emerge.

"My parents didn't go into graphic detail but I was picking up the facts," said Mr Oliver, who moved to Costa Brava, in Spain, in 1999.

Mr Oliver, who was 13 at the time, said his family had dealt with tragedy in different ways.

"Some wouldn't talk about it - they would walk out of the room if it was mentioned," he said.

"Others were just so annoyed. I think it changed all of us in different ways."

His parents, George and Sheila, both died during the 1980s aged in their late 70s. His father worked for a printing firm.

Mr Oliver, a concrete technician, hopes coming forward to talk about the case will help his quest for answers.

Image caption Two suitcases containing body parts were found in a field in Tattingstone

"It was terrible for my parents to go to their graves without knowing what happened to Bernard," he said.

"I still believe somebody who knows what happened to Bernard is still alive. I've never given up hope."

Two doctors - both now dead - were prime suspects.

One left a suicide note that included an apology to police for past crimes, but made no mention of Bernard's murder.

The investigation was reopened in 1977 but little progress was made.

Mr Oliver believes "without a shadow of doubt" that the crime would be solved if it happened now with today's forensic advances.

But the father-of-two said detectives had always been hindered by the fact a murder scene was never found.

Suffolk police said the case remained open and any new leads would be investigated.

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