Jeremy Bamber almost pulled off the perfect crime – by framing his own mentally ill sister for the slaughter of almost their entire family.
The convicted multiple murderer, who is serving a whole-life order behind bars, tried to pull the wool over the police’s eyes by pinning the blame on his adopted sister Sheila Caffell – known as Bambi.
Bamber, who continues to maintain his innocence 35 years on, is the subject of a new six-part drama commissioned by ITV to shed fresh light on the case that has gripped Britain since August 6 1985.
Five members of Bamber’s family, including his adoptive mother and father, June and Nevill Bamber, were killed at their White House Farm property, having been shot 25 times between them.
Jeremy had alerted police to the blood-soaked crime scene by telling them he’d received a call from dad Nevill at 3.30am claiming Sheila – who suffered with paranoid schizophrenia – had gone ‘berserk’ with Nevill’s semi-automatic rifle.
When cops arrived at the Essex farmhouse, they were greeted with the sight of June and Nevill’s bodies, along with those of Sheila and her six-year-old twins, Daniel and Nicholas Caffell.
Sheila’s remains were discovered in the bedroom with two bullet wounds to her throat.
Her father’s rifle was slumped across her body, leading officers to initially suspect a murder-suicide.
Chillingly, Jeremy had left June’s bible on Sheila’s chest to stage the scene as a murderous religious frenzy.
Her mental illness counted against her, as Sheila had been treated in a psychiatric hospital weeks before the killings, and had turned to drugs and developed an eating disorder in the wake of her marriage breakdown.
It wasn’t until Bamber’s girlfriend Julie Mugford came forward weeks after the crime spree to alert police to his bragging.
She told cops Bamber had been talking of killing his family for the last 18 months, wishing he could “get rid of them all” and inherit the family’s £400,000 fortune.
He allegedly spoke about getting rid of his parents who were trying to “ruin his life”, while claiming his sister had nothing to live for.
Julie told police he had rung her on the night of the slaughters to say “it’s tonight or never”.
And she claimed in the early hours of the next morning he phoned again to say: “Everything is going well. Something is wrong at the farm. I haven’t had any sleep all night … bye honey and I love you lots.”
Disturbingly, Bamber had attempted to cover his tracks in order to shift the blame to model Sheila.
He’d used a silencer to mask the loud gunshots as he made his way through the farmhouse, killing with impunity.
But when police examined the rifle, the silencer had been removed – and a cousin found it in a cupboard three days later, meaning Sheila couldn’t have killed her family and then herself without somebody hearing the commotion.
The silencer on the end of the gun meant it would have been too long for her to have pulled the trigger on herself.
There was also no trace of blood on Sheila’s feet, nor of lead powder, lubricant from the gun or firearm discharge residue on her hands, which ruled her out of being the main suspect.
Initially, along with the police and press, Sheila’s estranged husband Colin Caffell thought she could have committed the slaughters.
Colin later wrote in his book In Search Of The Rainbow’s End that he first suspected his wife of killing their twin children in their beds.
But when Jeremy was arrested he changed his mind – and became certain his brother-in-law was the killer as the series of inexplicable clues came to light.
Bamber was arrested and charged with five counts of murder in September 1985 and convicted in October the following year.
He is the only one of around 70 criminals with whole-life orders who continues to protest his innocence.
Several bids to quash his conviction have failed, although many of Bamber’s followers believe to this day that he has been cruelly blamed for the horrific murders of his family.
*White House Farm starts on Wednesday January 8 at 9pm on ITV