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True crime anniversaries in May

May true crime anniversaries

Every month we look over some of the most notorious and significant crimes throughout history. Below are some of the most serious crimes that took place in May.

1st - 5th May: The Bank Holiday murder of William and Patricia Wycherley (1998)

William and Patricia Wycherley were a happily married couple who were shot dead at some point between 1st and 5th May 1998. They were both shot twice in the chest by a .38 calibre revolver in their own home. The couple were killed by their daughter, Susan, and her husband, Christopher, who committed many acts of fraud using the parents’ names.

7th May: The kidnap, rape and murder of Mary-Ann Leneghan (2005)

In early May 2005, 16-year-old Mary-Ann Leneghan was stabbed to death in Reading’s Prospect Park. Prior to her murder, Mary-Ann and a friend had been kidnapped, assaulted, raped and drugged at a local hotel. Her friend was shot in the head but survived. Six men, four who were on probation at the time, received life sentences for their part in the attack and murder.

11th May: Mick and Mairead Philpott murder six of their children (2012)

The story of Mick and Mairead Philpott remains one of the strangest in criminal history. Mick had made a name for himself as a small-time celebrity, appearing on everything from The Jeremy Kyle Show to filming a documentary at his home with Anne Widdecombe.

The couple’s lifestyle was unusual, living at home with 17 children as well as Mick’s live-in girlfriend. Both Mick and Mairead were convicted of the manslaughter of six of their children when a fire at their Derby home was proven to be deliberate.

15th May: The disappearance of Jessie Earl (1980)

Jessie Earl was a 22-year-old student who disappeared after leaving her Eastbourne bedsit in May 1980. Her remains were not discovered for another nine years, in thick undergrowth on Beachy Head. It took a long time for the authorities to determine whether Jessie had been murdered despite evidence seemingly suggesting so.

The inquest into her death recorded an open verdict, but a murder enquiry was opened in 2000 to reinvestigate the case. Jessie’s death has been linked to Peter Tobin, known as one of the UK’s most prolific sex criminals and serial killers.

22nd May: The murder of Lee Rigby (2013)

On 22nd May 2013, Fusilier Lee Rigby was murdered on the street near the Royal Artillery Barracks in Woolwich. His murderers, Michael Adebolajo and Michael Adebowale, claimed they were carrying out the murder in the name of Islam and it is recognised as one of the most heinous acts of extremist murder in the UK.

Rigby was off duty when the murderers first ran him over with a car and then began their violent attack. Using knives and a cleaver, they killed Rigby before dragging him into the road and yelling at onlookers that he’d been killed to avenge acts of the British military on Muslims.

22nd May: The Manchester Arena Bombing (2017)

The Manchester Arena Bombing was the UK’s deadliest terrorist attack and the first suicide bombing in the country since 2005. On 22nd May 2017, a suicide bomber detonated a homemade bomb as people were leaving the arena after an Ariana Grande concert. 23 people were killed and over 1,000 were injured. Many of those killed and injured were children.

The Islamic State claimed responsibility shortly after the attack and while the bomber, Salman Abedi, carried out the act alone others were involved in the planning process. In March 2020, the bomber’s brother, Hashem Abedi, was found guilty of 22 counts of murder and attempting to murder 1,017 others.

24th May: Shiregreen Child Murders (2019)

On 24th May 2019, police attended a residential property in Shiregreen, Sheffield. There were reports concerning the welfare of six children and on inspection, the police found all children unconscious inside the property. Two of the six children later died and Brandon Machin and Sarah Barrass, known to be the mother of all the children, were arrested.

It quickly became clear that Machin and Barrass were in a sexual relationship despite being brother and sister and were attempting a terrifying family massacre when they were discovered by police. They poisoned their four younger children and then strangled the elder two to death. Both perpetrators were sentenced to life for murder and will be in prison for a minimum of 35 years.

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