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THE MURDER OF LINDSAY RIMER

Lindsay RimerDetectives have launched a fresh appeal to catch the killer Update: on 7th November, 2014 it was be 20 years since Lindsay Rimer was last seen alive.

Yorkshire Post: 20 years on, police hunt for killer of Hebden Bridge schoolgirl is renewed (6 November 2014)

ITV News: New appeal to catch schoolgirl's killer (6 November 2014)

 

ßPolice appeal, 6 November 2014

I don’t know what happened to my daughter” — Guardian article, to coincide with the 12th anniversary of the murder of Lindsay Rimer on 7th November 2006.

Anyone with any information which could help the enquiry should contact police on 0845 6060606 or Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555111.

Ever since the Hebden Bridge Web started in 1995, there is one issue we have highlighted again and again: the murder of Lindsay. And we will continue to do so. Why has there been no arrest? Just what have the police done to find the murderer? Isn’t it time for an independent team to review the police investigation?

Lindsay Rimer

In the late evening of November 7th. 1994 13 year old Lindsay Rimer, a Year 8 pupil at Calder High School, left her home in Cambridge Street to go shopping. She visited the Trades Club where her mother Geri was enjoying a night out, to get some money and was last seen alive on the CCTV at the Spar supermarket buying a packet of cornflakes for her breakfast next day.

Lindsay had a paper round at Forbuoy’s Newsagents who telephoned her parents next day to alert them to the fact that she had not turned up for her paper round that morning.

In spite of being assured by family and friends that Lindsay was unlikely to have left home, for some time the Police believed that she was one of the thousands of teenagers who run away every year. But when her weighted down body was discovered in the canal near Aquaspersion’s in April 1995 the hunt for Lindsay became the hunt for her murderer.

Since then Police have investigated the possibility that Lindsay might have been killed by either John Taylor or John Oswin, two men convicted of sexual attacks and murders of other young women in Yorkshire. So far, however, no evidence has been found to link her murder to either of these men.

In the past nine years Lindsay’s family have done a great deal to make sure that their daughter’s death is not forgotten organising vigils in November. Posters of Lindsay remain in the windows of shops all over Hebden Bridge. People are still being urged to see if they can remember anything about that night or to discuss any suspicions they may have with the Police.

Although it may seem a long time ago, the fact that her murderer has yet to be arrested disturbs many people in Hebden Bridge where the unsolved killing remains a major issue in residents’ minds. Before Lindsay’s murder Hebden Bridge seemed like a very safe place to live but the fact that her murderer may still be amongst us still troubles many of us. As Geri Rimer commented in 1999 on the fifth anniversary of Lindsay’s disappearance, It happened in this community — it still affects this community — and I believe that someone from this community did this to Lindsay.

Lindsay Rimer

Lindsay Rimer

Lindsay Rimer

From a Courier article in December 2000

Canal gives up its grim secret

THEY find all sorts when clearing debris from the canal: flotsam, bottles, beer cans, car tyres, bits of timber and sometimes dead creatures.

Disposing of decaying, waterlogged sheep and wild animals is not a pleasant business. But for experienced canal workers, Charlie Streets and Andy Glover — with 25 years working on the Rochdale Canal between them — an occupational hazard that goes with the job.

They spend most days fitting new lock gates and often walk or cycle the canal length, Yorkshire side, inspecting towpaths, maintaining walls and clearing rubbish. On a bright spring day in April 1995 the two men were finishing a routine patrol.

It was late morning, not long before lunch. They were back at their base at Callis Mill. The Rochdale Canal workshops are a mile or so outside Hebden Bridge where the Calder River and Rochdale Canal run only yards apart. Charlie, then aged 29, a family man from Halifax, was removing debris.

“There was quite a lot from Lock 12, tyres, bits of wood, all sorts. Then I noticed this greyish object a foot or so under the water. Visibility wasn’t good enough to determine what it was so I put my hand in first.

“I had rubber gloves on and tried to pull it out but I didn’t have a good enough grip on it to pull it out, so I came back to Callis Mill for a grappling hook, went back and pulled it up like,” says Charlie.

It took him a few seconds to come to terms with what he’d found. Then he called his mate Andy over and between them they tied off the grappling hooks so that it wouldn’t float away.

Andy, from Mytholmroyd, used his mobile to call the police. “They asked me to describe exactly what we’d found and I said to them: ‘look, just get here’.”

Andy, a father of three and then aged 35, knew exactly what they’d found. As they’d grappled the object to the canal bank it had rolled over in the water. It was not a pleasant sight, but one feature drew his gaze. Three or four thin wispy strands of brown hair were floating across the top of the face. Just like the missing person’s photo issued by police immediately after the disappearance of 13-year-old Lindsay Jo Rimer the previous autumn.

Andy and Charlie, like everyone in the Calder Valley, knew she was still missing. Everyone knew of the massive but fruitless police search. Andy even knew her. He’s sure he’d seen her once or twice while working on the canal near her home in Cambridge Street, Hebden Bridge.

Charlie, the man who found the body, is a phlegmatic sort but admits he felt a bit shaky. (He was nervous in dark places for a day or two afterwards and had one terrible nightmare a few months later but otherwise remains unaffected).

Within an hour of the grim discovery police had put a screen round the canal side and forensic experts and frogmen had, with respectful, tender care, slid the body, still in the water to minimise cross-contamination, into a body bag.

By the middle of the afternoon, Home Office pathologist Professor Mike Green, assisted by Dr Naomi Carter, had arrived at the mortuary at the Royal Halifax Infirmary to start the chilling task of performing a post-mortem on the remains of Lindsay Jo Rimer. Professor Green, now retired, is one of the most experienced and well-respected forensic pathologists in Britain. He has performed over 10,000 autopsies and he has investigated well over 800 homicides. The police trust his judgements.

His conclusion, by the time he left the Infirmary around 9.30 that evening, was that Lindsay very probably died from strangulation. Despite the condition of the body, immersed in water for so long, there were telltale clues.

Her voicebox had been slightly flattened against the spinal column, as though it had been abruptly forced back and there was, he says, a prominent band of congestion across the middle area of the neck muscles.

His report was detailed and definitive. Its conclusions provided the basic foundations on which the police began their murder inquiry. It will, in due course, provide expert evidence in the prosecution of Lindsay Rimer’s killer.

Only the sketchiest details have been made public and many elements of the post-mortem report — especially the arrangement of Lindsay’s clothing — have been deliberately witheld by the police for tactical reasons.

But Professor Green’s report opened a new chapter in the biography of Lindsay Rimer’s tragicallly short life. The five months search, which had involved dozens of detectives, many uniformed officers and posses of volunteers was finally over.

But another search now began in earnest, the search for the person or persons who had killed Lindsay Jo Rimer and disposed of her body. Charlie Streets at Callis Mill, unwittingly wrote the first sentence of that new chapter.

From the moment her disappearance was notified, on the morning of November 8 1994, detectives had discreetly begun a murder inquiry in parallel with the missing person inquiry. They knew that every lead, every clue, every statement gathered in the early stages would be crucial if Lindsay wasn’t found alive. What many accounts of the case often overlook, however, are eerie links between the grim discovery at Callis Mill and Lindsay’s earlier life. There are strong connections between the place she was found and the surrounding area and some of its people.

Lindsay’s watery grave at Callis is shadowed by a steep wooded hillside above which are dotted the remote farms of Erringden, a gently sloping plateau that falls away from Erringden Moor to the South West.

And it was here, until about a year before she went missing, that Lindsay lived with her father Gordon and her older teenage brother Daniel. For over two years she and Daniel shared a green-painted caravan parked up at Lower Rough Head Farm. Her father Gordon had lived in another.

Both caravans are semi-derelict now. Since the three Rimers moved out, according to the farmer’s son, Ian Pratt, they have been used to keep ferrets in. The ceiling of the curtained off section where Lindsay slept is still dotted with stickers the adolescent Lindsay put there.

It must have been a strange place for the young girl. She and Daniel were brought there by their father. Their parents’ Rotherham pub, on the edge of a sink estate, fell victim, says Gordon Rimer, to the fag end of Thatcherism.

Lower Rough Head Farm was the bolt hole Gordon Rimer had brought Lindsay and Danny to whilst Geraldine stayed in Rotherham with their older sister Kate. Gordon says Geraldine refused to move back with him.

Yet several years earlier Gordon, Geraldine, Kate and Daniel had lived at the very same farm, according to farmer Bernard Pratt. “They lived at Higher Rough Head, only a poor little cottage, just Danny and Kate. That were before Lindsay was born.” When Bernard Pratt’s father died, the cottage was sold. (It seems that Geraldine Rimer was pregnant with Daniel at that time.) Bernard Pratt recalls Gordon turning up in 1991, telling him the pub had gone bust and asking if there was anywhere to stay. There wasn’t. But Gordon persuaded him to get the caravans.

(Only months before Lindsay was killed, early in 1994, former Calderdale councillor Eddie Scott — a close friend of Gordon Rimer — and Bernard Pratt caused a local furore with their plan to site a seven turbine windfarm at nearby Kershaw Farm).

Daniel seems to have loved the place. The way Gordon Rimer tells it, Daniel became an honorary member of the rural backwoods set. He did odd paid jobs for farmer Bernard Pratt. (The day before Lindsay went missing he was sheep dipping at the farm.) He learnt about nature red in tooth and claw too. Gordon Rimer, 51, stresses how at home his son Danny was. He learned a lot about the ways of country people during his time at Lower Rough Head Farm. Danny was fascinated. Foxes are a continuing menace to sheep farmers like Bernard Pratt. (They took 20 lambs this year) Killing them isn’t sport, it is economic survival.

Yet if Daniel relished life as a hillbilly slacker on the ramshackle hill farm, it must have been a very different story for Lindsay. In many ways she was isolated. She had to use the farmhouse phone to call her friends, for example. Bernard Pratt recalls he had to ration the calls: “I did get a bit annoyed when she kept telling her little school friends to ring up and I’d be working outside and have to come in to answer it. One night I had to come in three times so I said to her, ‘Lindsay I’m rationing you to one call a night now. I’m not going to be coming in like this.’ There was no nastiness.”

The incident offers a clue though, to Lindsay’s predicament then. Her mother and older sister Kate were in Rotherham, the other side of Yorkshire. She was stuck in the back of beyond, in an essentially all-male environment.

Bernard Pratt had a soft spot for Lindsay and used to pay her to clean the farmhouse kitchen. His wife Mary was something of a confidante. She and Lindsay baked cakes together and perhaps Mary provided a mother substitute? But Mary and her husband were going through a rocky patch and Mary moved out and into a nearby cottage.

No wonder the phone was Lindsay’s lifeline. That and the daily taxi that crawled up the winding road through the silver birch trees of Callis Wood and up to the farm to collect her and take her to school at Calder High.

How many times did Lindsay look idly across the Callis Bridge, as the taxi crossed the canal, then the river? Did she notice the metal hulks of barges and dredger tied up there at Callis Mill? Did this sensitive, sensible child ever feel one of those unaccountable shivers of dread as she crossed that bridge?

Anyone with any information which could help the enquiry should contact police on 0845 6060606 or Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555111.

See also:

Guardian - I don’t know what happened to my daughter (Nov 2006)

HebWeb News - Lindsay Rimer: 20 years on (Nov 2014)

HebWeb News - Lindsay Rimer: 10 years on: “I believe that someone, somewhere, still has this crime on their conscience. I am in no doubt that the answer lies locally in Hebden Bridge.”

Other coverage on HebWeb of Lindsay Rimer

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