It seems a long time since David Videcette last featured here on Linda’s Book Bag. Then, having just reviewed David’s excellent The Detriment in a post you’ll find here, I’d asked David his thoughts on The Fine Line Between Right and Wrong and he provided a super guest post you can read here.
With David’s latest book investigating a true crime that has been part of the fabric of my own life, Finding Suzy, I simply had to invite David back onto the blog even though I hadn’t time to fit in a read. Luckily he agreed and has provided another superb guest post today. Before I share that post, let me tell you more about Finding Suzy.
Finding Suzy was published on 5th August and is available in ebook and paperback from your regional Amazon.
How can someone just disappear?
Step inside a real-life, missing person investigation in this compelling, true crime must-read.
Uncover what happened to missing estate agent Suzy Lamplugh, as David Videcette takes you on a quest to unpick her mysterious disappearance and scrutinise the shadowy ‘Mr Kipper’.
One overcast Monday in July 1986, 25-year-old estate agent Suzy Lamplugh vanished whilst showing a smart London property to a mysterious ‘Mr Kipper’.
Despite the baffling case dominating the news and one of the largest missing persons cases ever mounted, police failed to find a shred of evidence establishing what had happened to her.
Sixteen years later, following a second investigation and under pressure from Suzy’s desperate parents, police named convicted rapist and murderer John Cannan as their prime suspect. However, the Crown Prosecution Service refused to charge him, citing a lack of evidence.
Despite several high-profile searches, Suzy’s body was never found. The trail that might lead investigators to her, long since lost.
Haunted by another missing person case, investigator and former Scotland Yard detective, David Videcette, has spent five years painstakingly reinvestigating Suzy’s cold case disappearance.
Through a series of incredible new witness interviews and fresh groundbreaking analysis, he uncovers piece by piece what happened to Suzy and why the case was never solved.
People don’t just disappear…
The Flashbulb: indelible memories that change our lives
A Guest Post by David Videcette
There are a handful of moments in our lives that we can vividly remember in great detail from one year to the next, and even fewer that last for decades or even a lifetime.
Can you remember exactly where you were, what you were doing and the conversations you had, when you heard of the 9/11 terror attacks on the United States or the London 7/7 bombings? Perhaps you are old enough to remember what you were doing when you heard the news that JFK had been assassinated?
It’s what’s known as a ‘Flashbulb Memory’.
In a 1977 scientific research paper, Roger Brown and James Kulik first hypothesized that: “Flashbulb Memories are memories for the circumstances in which one first learned of a very surprising and consequential (or emotionally arousing) event.”
Decades later, in the modern day, using studies of people’s flashbulb memories of 9/11, scientists have proven that the original hypothesis of Brown and Kulik was right; there is such a place in our minds where these indelible flashbulb memories are stored.
Looking backwards at some of my own flashbulb memories, two stand out as having influenced my decision to spend five years reinvestigating the disappearance of missing estate agent Suzy Lamplugh and write my latest book Finding Suzy. Both of my flashbulb events happened in 1996 within a few months of one another.
At 7:01pm on 9th February 1996, one-and-a-half tons of explosive hidden in the back of a truck detonated in London’s Docklands.
I’d never heard a sound quite like it before. Sitting inside a small police station close to the Blackwall Tunnel in South London, the ground shook and the glass in the windows rattled against their frames. Little over a mile away, a lorry bomb had killed two people, injured one hundred others, and destroyed South Quay Plaza at Canary Wharf, leaving a crater 32ft wide and 10ft deep.
As we raced to help, I can remember in vivid detail the colours of the devastated buildings blasted off their very foundations, and the shock on people’s faces. I remember wondering how on earth anyone could investigate this awful crime. Where would you even begin to look for the evidence among this scene of annihilation? The emotions I felt at the time come flooding back as I think about it today; the memory of that ravaged blast site still chills me to the bone.
My second flashbulb memory relates to a missing person case. On a warm summer’s evening, with half-an-hour to spare before my night shift started, I’d grabbed the chance to catch up on the intelligence briefings in the tiny coffee room.
There had been a hiss of static as the battery slid into place on my archaic police radio, before I heard the operator in our control room ask:
‘Is there a unit that’s free to deal, please? Caller claims to have found what he thinks is someone’s arm sticking through a pile of soil and rubbish on the railway embankment behind their house.’
The moment I heard it, my stomach lurched. Although Suzy Lamplugh had vanished exactly ten years before, almost to the day – I already suspected whose body it might be.
Fifteen-year-old Joanne Eddison had failed to return home from school one Tuesday afternoon in May 1996. She’d disappeared just days short of her sixteenth birthday. I feared the worst. Her distraught parents had called the police when she’d failed to return home from school. It had been my team that had taken the original missing person report.
Nine weeks later, on that warm summer’s night on the railway embankment, we identified Joanne from the rings on her fingers. I was posted to stand guard over her body until we could organise a forensics team to recover her remains and collect any evidence that may be on or around her, although that wouldn’t be until the morning. Her parents were duly informed by a fellow officer that their daughter was dead, and that she was lying beneath a pile of rubbish. As soon as Joanne’s father heard, he clawed his way through the undergrowth and trees at the back of the houses to try and get to his daughter.
“You can’t just leave her there in the ground! It’s inhuman – that’s my daughter. I just want to take her home. Let me take her home, you can’t leave her lying there,” he screamed into my face, his spittle settling on my cheeks and lips. His eyes filled with tears, as he bristled with pain and anger.
I still don’t know how I managed to persuade him not to dig her out with his bare hands. I remember telling him that we had to preserve as much evidence at the crime scene as we could. I assured him that to do the best for Joanne, he had to let me do my job.
Both of those incidents in 1996 ultimately changed my life; altered where I saw my role in this world. They taught me that evil walks among us unseen every single day, and sometimes there’s very little we can do to prevent it. But these events also taught me that regardless of the type of crime, or the magnitude of the crime scene and investigation, everything can be solved.
It would ultimately set me on a course to investigate Suzy’s case.
My goodness David. What a post and no wonder you’ve embarked on this latest book. Many thanks for sharing this with us.
About David Videcette
As an investigator, David Videcette has worked on a wealth of famous cases. He’s chased numerous dangerous criminals and interviewed thousands of witnesses.
With decades of experience working in counter-terror operations and combatting organised crime, David investigated the 7/7 London bombings as a Scotland Yard detective.
Today he uses his policing expertise to painstakingly investigate cold cases in his true crime series: Investigations by Videcette. David is also the author of the Detective Inspector Jake Flannagan thrillers.
David lives in London. When he is not writing, he consults on security operations for high-net-worth individuals and is a key media commentator on crime and policing for many broadcasters and newspapers, both nationally and internationally.