British Police accused and convicted least likely suspects Ian Huntley and Maxine Carr from Soham Village while ignoring more likely suspects from nearby American Air Force bases. What part did US/UK relations play in the convictions?
When British police arrested Ian Huntley and Maxine Carr during the early hours of Saturday 17 August, 2002 on suspicion of the abduction and murder of Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman, they did so in the certain knowledge that absolutely no hard evidence existed incriminating either suspect at the time. The reason for the rapid arrests was very simple: Just hours earlier, two small bodies had been found near the perimeter fence at USAF Lakenheath, and the Prime Minister at 10 Downing Street was terrified of a massive political scandal involving American servicemen based in, or transiting through, the United Kingdom.
Shortly after the arrests, British and American media organizations demonized Ian Huntley and Maxine Carr so successfully that public attention was diverted away from Lakenheath completely, and focused instead on the young couple from Soham who had earlier willingly spoken to television crews about their concerns for the well being of the two missing 10-year-old girls. Both knew the girls reasonably well. Ian Huntley was the caretaker at their school, and Maxine Carr was a former teaching auxiliary in their class.
Millions of viewers around the world watched Ian and Maxine being interviewed by the media, and most were impressed by the openness of their statements and their genuine willingness to help if possible. Experts in non-verbal communication also noticed that Ian and Maxine’s involuntary body and eye movements perfectly matched what they were saying verbally to the journalists.
In other words, both appeared to be telling the truth both verbally and non-verbally, an almost impossible feat for even a trained liar to fabricate. It is critical to note here also that both came across on television as perfectly normal, sane individuals, a reality later to be inexplicably challenged by police and psychiatrists in Cambridgeshire.
If Huntley and Carr had been involved at all with the abduction and murder of Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman, would they have then been stupid enough to run the gauntlet of about 10,000 American servicemen en-route, and dump the two small bodies in a location clearly visible from Lakenheath Control Tower, taxi track, and main runway? A serviceman with detailed knowledge of activities and procedures inside the base might get away with it unseen, but certainly not two civilians from Soham in Cambridgeshire. So the perimeter would be an ideal dumping ground for American servicemen eager to return to “safe” territory at USAF Lakenheath, before either entering their barracks on the base, or catching a shuttle bus to USAF Mildenhall.
In an attempt to demonize Ian Huntley still further, police “leaked” the damning information that he had been arrested for rape a number of years earlier. Well, yes, almost. While still a teenager Huntley had consensual sex with his girlfriend, who was only 15-years-old at the time, an offence in the United Kingdom known as statutory rape. He was never charged with an offence however, and his former girlfriend [now age 21 years] recently confirmed it was a mutual crush [love affair], with enthusiastic sexual consent on both sides.
So for a while at least, police and media managed to deflect attention away from the two massive nearby USAF bases at Lakenheath and Mildenhall, and the political minefield lurking just below the surface if the British public ever find out about the very large numbers of children abused, raped, and sometimes murdered by American servicemen on overseas duty. But did anyone properly consider the “American Connection?” What about the ‘unbelievable ongoing psychological abuse’ of Ian Huntley and Maxine Carr? That phrase was attributed to a psychiatrist asked to comment at the time.
Though earlier in the investigation police declared they would be interviewing “700 known sex offenders” of British nationality, there was no mention of interviewing the 10,000+ US servicemen based in close proximity to Soham Village, or determining which other American servicemen has transited through the two bases, and on which flights, since Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman first disappeared.
The simple fact that Holly and Jessica’s bodies were found within yards of the USAF Lakenheath perimeter fence, which in turn provides access to the American barracks within, should have had British police knocking on Lakenheath’s front door immediately. Unfortunately, any such action might have accidentally undermined Prime Minister Tony Blair’s personal slavish dedication to George W Bush's “War on Terror.”
Though most members of the American military are unquestionably nice people, the small number who are not, are invariably psychotic savages. It is a matter of public record that many American servicemen have habitually carried out sickening attacks against civilians while on overseas duty, happy in the knowledge that the serious assault or murder of women or girls in Japan, Kosovo or England, carries a lesser penalty than at home.
Staff Sergeant Frank Ronghi from Fort Bragg, North Carolina, pleaded guilty to forcibly sodomizing and then murdering an 11-year-old girl during early 2000
One such case is that of Staff Sergeant Frank Ronghi, who on 24 August 2000 pleaded guilty to sodomizing and killing an 11-year-old Kosovo girl in January the same year. A member of his platoon testified that Staff Sergeant Ronghi disdainfully claimed, “It’s easy to get away with this shit in a third-world country.”
The “shit” Ronghi referred to is described here by the US Army Pathologist for Europe. "Her right jaw was fractured, practically bisected," said Lieutenant Colonel Kathleen Ingwersen, "We found evidence of sperm and semen in her vagina, mouth and rectum," she testified to a hushed hearing. "There was trauma to the neck muscles, the trachea and the carotid artery," Colonel Ingwersen said, adding she had found evidence of "blunt trauma" as the child was apparently beaten, choked and forced to kneel, face to the ground, as she was sodomized.
Father holding a photo of his daughter Merita Shabiu
But in a perverse way Ronghi was proved right about the overall American perception of the “lesser worth” of women and children, in what he and others continually refer to as the third world. At his trial the Staff Sergeant was sentenced to life imprisonment, despite the fact that an identical offence against an American woman in the USA, would have resulted in his execution.
It would be impossible to list here all such vile attacks against “locals” by American servicemen overseas because there have been far too many. However, in order to educate the British police [who mercifully are rarely exposed to similar atrocities in Cambridgeshire and Suffolk] it seems prudent to mention a handful, thereby proving that Staff Sergeant Ronghi is far from being an isolated case.
In 1955, an American soldier was sentenced to death for the murder of a six-year-old Okinawan girl, a sentence that was later commuted to life imprisonment. During 1966 a US soldier confessed to strangling a young waitress. Then in 1972, US soldiers were sentenced to life imprisonment for strangling local women. Later In 1975, a US soldier was sent to prison for raping two junior high school students. Local Okinawan police arrested two US soldiers during 1985 in the act of raping a woman.
These three American heroes brutalized and repeatedly raped a young schoolgirl.
During a spate of crimes in 1995, a US soldier was arrested for the hammering death of a young woman, two children were killed by a drunken soldier, and three US soldiers brutally raped a young schoolgirl. In January 2000 a US seaman was sentenced for sexually assaulting a 16-year-old Japanese girl. Remember this is only a small part of the overall list, and does it include the many more alleged perpetrators who Japanese and other authorities claim were “spirited out of the country and back to the USA” before they could be apprehended and charged.
The last point to consider before returning to the plight of Ian Huntley and Maxine Carr, is the strange fate of four wives at Fort Bragg in North Carolina, the former home base of Staff Sergeant Ronghi. All four wives were allegedly killed by their Sergeant husbands when they returned from active duty in Afghanistan, during the same week that Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman went missing. US Army authorities are currently trying to establish whether or not an anti-malarial drug all were taking contributed to the murders. The drug is acknowledged to have extra-pyramidal psychotic side-effects, and is prescribed to all US Servicemen in Afghanistan.
There are no direct flights out of Afghanistan to the USA, meaning that all American servicemen including those seriously affected by the drug, and also affected by PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) are obliged to change aircraft either in Germany or in England – normally at USAF Mildenhall. As a matter of urgency the British public should demand their local police information into establishing accurately how many of these servicemen transited through USAF Mildenhall and USAF Lakenheath during the week that Holly and Jessica vanished.
Initially on Saturday 17 August, Ian Huntley and Maxine Carr were arrested “on suspicion” of being involved in the murders of Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman. Each was taken to a different police station in Cambridgeshire for interrogation, which is standard police procedure. However, this is also the point at which standard police procedure vanished completely. Obviously Ian and Maxine were determined to protest their innocence, and refused to provide police with a convenient “confession”, no matter how tired they were, and no matter how much extreme pressure was applied by the big burly threatening policemen. There was also a marked absence of defence lawyers making statements on behalf of the suspects.
In an extraordinary move, police then applied to a “Closed Court” for an extension of Huntley and Carr’s detention, though the reasons were not made public. There was actually no need for police to provide a reason, because it was blatantly obvious they still had absolutely nothing to connect the two suspects with the two murders. If at that stage police had any hard evidence linking Ian Huntley or Maxine Carr to the murders, or had managed to coerce a confession out of either, they would have been charged immediately.
Then on Tuesday 20 August, just twenty-four hours before the legally extended detention was due to expire at 6.19 am on Wednesday, a complete team of psychiatrists appeared as if by magic and deemed that Ian Huntley was unfit to appear in court. He was then “sectioned” under the Mental Health Act 1983 and remanded to Rampton high-security psychiatric hospital, at Retford in North Nottinghamshire, without being charged with any offence.
Now think about this carefully, think about it! When all saw Ian Huntley on international television he was entirely coherent and unquestionably sane. But apparently, after a mere three days in police custody, he became insane. How? Did the police deprive him of sleep and induce a [predictable and natural] nervous breakdown, or are the all-too-convenient government psychiatrists a pack of liars? It is a question no one has asked yet.
One thing is certain. All saw the gross potential violation of Ian Huntley’s legal rights on international television, and because the offences were so vile and sickening no one did anything about it.
Ask yourself: Is it even legal to section a man in England under the Mental Health Act before he is charged? When asked this precise question, Dr Harris of Rampton Psychiatric Hospital was evasive, replying, "It is not unheard of, but it is very unusual."
Once inside the terrifying Rampton building, a Victorian hulk originally founded as an asylum in 1912 under the Criminal Lunatics Act of 1860, police charged Ian Huntley with murder. He was now at the mercy of a five-man psychiatric team who assessed his “symptoms” night and day over the following month. No one has ever seen his medical report.
The rest is history. Huntley became the new Ian Brady and his conviction in accordance with English Law was complete.
The next problem for police was Maxine Carr. Clearly no-one would believe that two people had suddenly gone completely insane in police custody at the same time, so senior officers in Cambridgeshire [and at the Home Office] had to think of something a little more creative. They knew Huntley and Carr could both be innocent of course, but somehow Maxine had to be brought under control. In other words Maxine Carr had to be so badly frightened that she would be positively eager to “cooperate” with police when the drugged, perhaps ‘electro-shocked’ and certainly docile Ian Huntley was finally paraded in front of the courts.
So police formally charged Maxine Carr with “attempting to pervert the course of justice”, i.e. lying to police whether she had or not, and quietly arranged to have her incarcerated in the most brutal and terrifying of Britain’s women’s’ prisons, at Holloway in London. “Attempting to pervert” is not a violent crime requiring a high security establishment of course, and there were certainly prisons closer to Soham, but only Holloway would have the desired devastating effect on Maxine, hopefully bringing her under immediate control.
Although the Victorian Holloway was replaced in a phased rebuilding programme between 1975 and 1985, it has managed to retain its brutal reputation. In 1995 Sir David Ramsbotham, then inspector of prisons, walked out in disgust at the conditions he found inside. He noted that 75% of women at the jail were suffering from some form of identifiable mental disorder, while one in 10 was suicidal. Almost half were drug addicts in need of immediate detoxification, while more than half had serious alcohol problems and nearly 95% were on sleeping pills.
Naturally enough, on its own this would be quite enough to send a quiet country girl like Maxine insane in weeks, but the British authorities wanted to make absolutely sure. So before she left for London, police arranged a court hearing for her in the local town of Peterborough, and made sure the media and “rent a mob” people knew about its exact timing well in advance.
As the police van approached the court, the commotion started for the then legally innocent woman not yet convicted of any offence at all. Unseen hands banged on the metal van, and several females led an ugly chorus, jeering and shouting at a woman they could not see - a thick grey blanket had been placed over Maxine Carr's head - for a double murder with which she has not even been charged. "Evil bitch", screamed one. "Sick cow," spat another. In the melee, a woman and her two daughters unfurled a home-made banner. "Rot in hell forever", it said.
Trial by television media had well and truly started, and the trembling Maxine Carr had not yet even reached that special part of hell called Holloway. But a week or two in there with the deranged and the druggies should have her “cooperating” with anything and everything the Cambridgeshire Police Service wants.
But is that really the point here? The Chief Constable and all of his officers at Cambridgeshire Constabulary should be mortally ashamed of their blatant abuse of police powers, abuse of the judicial process, and abuse of the Mental Health Act. In turn it goes almost without saying that we the public at least should treat with caution a word of any subsequent “confession” that Maxine Carr made, during or after her terrifying ordeal at Holloway.
Nor should anyone necessarily believe that the little Cambridgeshire Constabulary [1,307 proud officers and still recruiting] had the overall power to pull off these impressive stunts without some very heavy political assistance. Think about it carefully. The original players in a tight little Cambridgeshire county investigation have been scattered to the four winds. Ian Huntley was100 miles away to the north in Rampton, Nottinghamshire, and Maxine Carr was 100 miles away to the south in Holloway, London. The bodies of the girls were actually found in Suffolk, directly involving a third force, the Suffolk Constabulary. And oh, yes, police investigators from the Norfolk Constabulary did quite a lot of the leg work on this case.
So the Cambridgeshire Holly and Jessica Case, was no longer really the ‘Cambridgeshire’ Holly and Jessica case at all. The only people who know exactly what was going on in London, Nottinghamshire, Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire were a small group of powerful police officers who set the scene. This is the same small group who had sufficient power to arrange special closed courts, send a truckload of ‘shrinks’ to Cambridgeshire, subvert the Mental Health Act, and personally arrange the twin ‘hell’ of Rampton and Holloway for the suspects Ian Huntley and Maxine Carr.
Only senior bureaucrats at the Home Office in London have sufficient raw power to arrange all of this.
There is a final point to consider about the case itself. A newspaper report stated “The bodies of murdered 10-year-old girls Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman were discovered in a ‘severely decomposed and partially skeletonized’ state, and the pair was almost certainly not killed where they were discovered, a coroner’s inquest was told yesterday. Their remains were found last Saturday in woodlands outside a United States air base at Lakenheath, Suffolk.” The cause or place of death was never established, and the Coroner released the bodies to the parents for burial. That was an act of humanity.
The reason for the importance of this statement was obvious to residents in the Lakenheath area, whose local newspapers saturated them for weeks with the information that Ian Huntley and Maxine Carr once lived years ago in a house owned by relatives less than a half-mile away from where the bodies were found. So this information allowing police to “point the finger” at the pair had long been in the public domain, and would be of enormous value to anyone wishing to deflect attention away from the real killers. Adding real substance to this claim is the fact that the path beside which the bodies were located is well used by walkers, but the bodies were not “found” until the very morning of Ian Huntley and Maxine Carr’s arrests.
The question that many criminologists asked was what one would do if one were Ian Huntley and had really been involved in the murder of the two little girls. Would one deliberately move their bodies close to a residence that one had lived in some years before, thereby tacitly pointing the finger of guilt at oneself, or would one move the bodies well away from any such residence? The answer is clear.
Taking the opposite view, what would one do if one were a deranged American serviceman who managed to smuggle the two little girls inside USAF Lakenheath, and then murdered them at some remote location inside the very large airfield boundary, with its multitude of convenient empty buildings? Would one leave the bodies where they lay until the smell of putrefaction attracted the attention of the Military Police at the base, or would one toss the pathetic remains over the perimeter fence one dark night, as close as possible to the former Huntley residence one learned about in the local Suffolk newspaper, and then tip off police? Once again, a question never asked.
No matter what one would choose and no matter what one thinks, it made no difference to the final outcome. The atmosphere surrounding this case was so heavily laden with political fog that one could cut it with a knife. At the national level the British Government could not afford to rock the boat because of Tony Blair’s “special relationship” with the White House, and all this entailed his personal prestige and the “War on Terror”.
At the county level one also could not rock the boat because, as the Chamber of Commerce eagerly explained, those thousands of nice American servicemen at USAF Lakenheath and USAF Mildenhall spend millions of pounds each year with local businesses in Suffolk, Norfolk and Cambridgeshire. The people at the Chamber of Commerce are mostly Masons, Rotarians, Buffs and the rest, enjoying free Budweiser Beer at the Lakenheath Officer's Club, while looking down their noses at the Base Commander.
Ian Huntley, Maxine Carr, were convicted as one would expect and the crime was vile, terrible and of utter repulsion. But did the system convict the right people in a manner that British justice would expect?
Had an American serviceman been charged, tried and convicted it is not necessarily the case that trial would have taken place in England. It may well have been subject to US Military Law and the penalty would not be life imprisonment as in the case of Huntley but death by lethal injection, hanging or firing squad. The consequences of such a sentence would have been complicated for the British Government both within the UK Legal system bound by the EU’s abolishing capital punishment, and the disregard to any such pleas in America where capital punishment is promoted. The answer was found by charging Huntley and Carr.
The crimes are too horrific and high profile for any such review to be considered and it may be that despite all Huntley may well be guilty. The issue however, is one where a doubt remains. No doubt remains in the case of Ian Brady and Myra Hyndley. They did it and if anyone deserved capital punishment they did.
But in the case of Huntley other suspects were ignored who may well be innocent. Without a proper investigation though can there be certainty that the right person is behind bars?