The Lincolnshire village of Binbrook was once the size of a small market town. It encompassed the lost medieval village of Orford and, more recently, RAF Binbrook which opened in 1940 as a Bomber Command base, and continued as an active airfield until it finally closed in the 1980s, although the runways were maintained as a relief landing strip for RAF Scampton until the 1990s. The buildings that remain are now used commercially, but the former housing stock now makes up the village of Brookenby.
In April 1959, Janice Ann Holmes was twelve years-old, and lived with her mother Ada in one of a number of farm cottages at Hall Farm, about two miles east of the village. Mrs Holmes acted as housekeeper to one of the workers, a Mr Barley. Her husband James was separated from the family and lived in Leicester. Janice Holmes was a bright girl, and had taken her Eleven Plus exam the previous year at Binbrook Primary School (above). She won a scholarship to Cleethorpes Grammar School. Each school day, she cycled into Binbrook to catch the school bus, and did the journey in reverse in the afternoon. Although just two miles from the village, the area around Hall Farm is lonely and, at the wrong time of day or in the wrong weather, desolate.
On the evening of Monday 13th April, Janice had come home from school as usual, helped her mother for a while, and then gone home to make the tea. Close by the cottage where Janice and her mother lived was another house where Susan Baker lived. Susan was fifteen, had already left school, and was working as a domestic servant for Mr Allbones, the tenant of Home Farm. She came round to Janice’s house at 6.15pm, and the two girls watched television for a while, before going out for a walk. They returned at about 7.15pm, and watched some more TV. Susan decided to go home, and Janice said she would go part of the way with her. When they reached Susan’s gate, they said goodbye, and Susan later testified that she heard the sound of Janice’s footsteps as she ran back to her own house. She never arrived. Bear in mind the Hall Farm area was not a well-lit modern housing estate. The cottages were scattered over a significant area, and deep into an April evening it would have been dark.
Initially, Ada Holmes was not too concerned about Janice’s absence, but when 9.00pm became 9.30pm, she had a sense that something was not right. She went to the nearby cottages, but no-one had seen her daughter. Mr Allbones, the farmer, organised a search party with torches, but at 11.00pm, still with no sign of Janice, he informed the police. Eventually, at 2.00am on the Tuesday morning, just off the narrow road known as Lambcroft Lane, the searchers found Janice’s hat. Much worse was to follow.
IN PART TWO
A grim discovery