Murder Mystery of Lindsay Rimer
Murder Mystery of Lindsay Rimer, a thirteen-year-old girl from Hebden Bridge, West Yorkshire, was tragically murdered. On 7 November 1994, she was last seen purchasing cornflakes at a SPAR shop on Crown Street in Hebden Bridge. However, her lifeless body was discovered around a mile away in the Rochdale Canal on 12 April 1995, which runs through the town. Despite continuous pleas for information from the police, her murder case remains unsolved.
Throughout the years, various speculative theories have emerged, attempting to connect Rimer’s murder with known criminals. Authorities have investigated individuals like John Taylor, who was responsible for the murder of Leanne Tiernan. In 2016, West Yorkshire Police made a significant breakthrough by isolating a DNA profile of the perpetrator.
The initial inquiries into Rimer’s disappearance were featured in the inaugural episode of Channel 4’s series Deadline. The show documented the efforts of journalists from Yorkshire Television as they covered the case. It included interviews with the Rimer family and a reconstruction of Lindsay’s trip to the SPAR shop, with her sister portraying Lindsay. Shortly after the documentary aired, Lindsay’s body was discovered.
Rimer’s vanishing served as the inspiration for Eclipse, the debut play penned by playwright and current Poet Laureate Simon Armitage.
In the family house on Cambridge Street in Hebden Bridge, Rimer resided alongside her parents, two sisters, and brother. She was a “popular” student in Year 9 at Calder High School.
Police initially suspected that Rimer might have run away. There was local speculation that Rimer had been having problems at home, although this was strenuously denied by her family. Rimer’s older sister, Katie, took part in a reconstruction of Rimer’s walk to the shop and hundreds of local people joined the police in searches of the area around Hebden Bridge, but no trace of Rimer was found. Parts of the Rochdale Canal and River Calder along her route home were searched but she was not found.
On 12 April 1995, Rimer’s body was discovered in the Rochdale Canal, approximately one mile away from the center of Hebden Bridge and near Rawden Mill lock, by two canal workers. It had been deliberately submerged with a concrete boulder to prevent it from rising to the surface. The boulder was likely displaced during recent dredging operations in that specific stretch of the canal. Remarkably, Rimer was found fully clothed in the same attire she wore when she went missing. The section of the canal where her body was found was adjacent to a well-lit factory. The perpetrator’s apparent knowledge that this bustling factory lacked security during nighttime led the police to believe that the individual possessed local familiarity.
Although the police had previously conducted searches in various parts of the canal, they admitted their oversight after Rimer’s body was found. They acknowledged their mistake of not searching the particular section where she was ultimately discovered. Detectives recognized that they should have searched upstream instead, considering that the water flow in the canal could have carried her body upstream from Hebden Bridge to the eventual location. However, detectives later clarified their belief that she had been placed in the canal section near the factory. Furthermore, the 20lb stone used to weigh down Rimer’s body was also found nearby, sourced from the vicinity adjacent to the canal.
The post-mortem was carried out later that day at Royal Halifax Royal Infirmary by Home Office pathologist Professor Mike Green. He concluded that Lindsay Rimer had probably been strangled to death. Her voicebox had been flattened against the spinal column and there were also signs of congestion across the middle of the neck muscles. There were no signs of a sexual assault, and Green concluded that the attack had not been of a sexual nature.
According to the detectives, it was believed that Rimer met her tragic fate on the same night she disappeared and that her killer had placed her in the canal a few hours prior to her reported absence on the morning of 8 November. They further speculated that the perpetrator was likely someone acquainted with Rimer. Described as a cautious individual, Rimer was unlikely to willingly enter a vehicle with someone she didn’t trust. The canal where she was discovered ran in proximity to the street where the Rimer family resided. Police disclosed their belief that Rimer had walked home along a dimly lit path situated a short distance from her house.
The lead Detective Superintendent Inspector (DSI), Tony Whittle, put forward a suggestion that the killer may not have intended to cause harm to Lindsay, stating, “Possibly someone she knew very well offered her a lift. Unbeknownst to her, he may have had a sexual attraction towards her, took her to the factory, and when she resisted and cried out, perhaps he accidentally caused her demise.”
After her initial disappearance, police had discovered that a car that had been stolen in Leeds the night before Rimer vanished had been spotted several times in Hebden Bridge around when she was last seen. The car was a red Honda Civic registered FYY 215W, and had been stolen from Meanwood on 6 November. It was spotted at around 9pm in Hebden Bridge the night before Rimer disappeared, and was spotted again in the town in the evening of 12 November.
Police attempted to trace the vehicle and the driver, who was described as a bearded male. The man further raised suspicions after it was discovered that he had tried to chat up several teenage girls in the town around the time Rimer vanished, with some of these girls being Rimer’s schoolfriends. After Rimer’s body was found detectives stated that the man had also been spotted near the SPAR shop Rimer was last seen at, and revealed he had still not been traced.
Two months after Rimer’s body was found, police released pictures of shoppers caught on security cameras at the SPAR shop on the evening of the disappearance. It was revealed that a number of the shoppers had not been traced, and police appealed for these individuals to come forward as they felt they may have held information which would prove crucial to the inquiry.
A year after Rimer’s disappearance, it was theorised by detectives that Rimer could have met her killer only days before she disappeared at the Hebden Bridge bonfire on 5 November 1994. Police appealed for anyone who held any relevant information to come forward.
During the late 1990s, Rimer’s murder case became part of Operation Enigma, a nationwide collaborative police investigation established to reassess the unsolved murders of 207 women throughout Britain. One of its objectives was to explore potential connections between the murders and investigate the possibility of unidentified serial killers being at large. However, Enigma concluded that there were no links between Rimer’s murder and other cases.
In 2000, forensic psychologist Richard Badcock provided information to the police, suggesting that the killing might have had a sexual motive. He proposed that Rimer could have been murdered after rejecting the perpetrator’s advances, and he also stated that she was likely killed in close proximity to where her body was ultimately found.
In the years since the discovery of Rimer’s body, the police have taken hundreds of witness statements and spoken to more than 5,000 people during their investigation. More than 1,200 vehicles were examined in the first year of the investigation. Detectives have investigated a number of convicted murderers and sex offenders who were still at liberty at the time of the murder. John Taylor, jailed for life in 2002 for the murder of Leeds teenager Leanne Tiernan, and John Oswin (jailed for life in 1998 for two rapes) have both been investigated, but no evidence has been found to link either to Lindsay Rimer’s murder.
In April 2016, West Yorkshire Police said a DNA profile had been obtained by a Canadian team of forensic specialists. The police hoped it would identify the killer.
On 8 November 2016, an unnamed 63-year-old man from Bradford was arrested on suspicion of the murder. He was later released on police bail. A second suspect, aged 68, was arrested by West Yorkshire Police on suspicion of murder on 25 April 2017 in Bradford.
In 2003, reports emerged that detectives were examining a potential connection to double murderer Tony King and had requested a copy of his DNA. However, the police later informed the press that any insinuation linking King to Rimer’s murder was mere speculation.
Crime writer Wensley Clarkson published a book in 2007 alleging that Francisco Arce Montes, who was responsible for the widely publicized murder of Caroline Dickinson, was also the killer of Rimer. Dickinson, a 13-year-old British schoolgirl, was tragically murdered by Montes while she slept in a hostel during a school trip to France.
Clarkson’s book, titled “The Predator: Portrait of a Serial Killer,” suggested that Montes was on a hunting trip in Yorkshire on 7 November 1994 and likely abducted and sexually motivatedly murdered Rimer that same night, as he preferred victims between the ages of 12 and 14. However, Rimer’s mother expressed significant doubts about these claims, and the detectives involved in the murder investigation stated that they had never come across this information before.
The notion that Montes might be responsible originated from a retired police officer, although Clarkson declined to disclose which police force the officer belonged to and was unable to confirm if there was any evidence indicating Montes’ presence in Hebden Bridge on that day. Clarkson did mention that Montes had recently visited York while working as a waiter at a London hotel. West Yorkshire Police spokesperson stated their intention to ascertain the factual basis of the claims presented in the book.
In 2017, retired detective sergeant John Matthews from Cleveland Police revealed that a man he had interviewed in relation to the murders of Tina Bell and Julie Hogg had connections to Hebden Bridge and the Rimer family. Matthews suggested that this individual, named Vince Robson, who passed away in 2005, should have been considered as part of the investigation into Lindsay’s murder. Robson had relocated to Hebden Bridge in 1990 and had been employed at the Trades Club, which Rimer had visited shortly before her disappearance.
In 2018, investigative journalists Tim Hicks and Chris Clark proposed the possibility that Lindsay Rimer could have been murdered by convicted killer Christopher Halliwell. However, the police could easily disprove this theory with DNA evidence, as they have possessed a complete profile of Rimer’s killer since 2016 and already have Halliwell’s DNA on record.
Till now in 2023 this case remains unsolved murder mystery (cold case)