Murder at the Farm; who killed Carl Bridgewater? is a phenomenal book by journalist Paul Foot. We may never know what happened but after reading Foot‘s excellent analysis of the police interrogations, I am sure that none of the Bridgewater Four were involved.
Even though the case dates back to 1978, I consider this book to be a classic to study how cases can go wrong fast. It reminded me of the Guildford Four and of course, the long hours of interrogation without a lawyer or help reminded me of the case of Richard Lapointe.
Foot painstakingly details how the case developed in tunnel vision instead of though a multi-pronged approach. His writing style appeals to me. He immediately shows where the case went wrong. He doesn’t flip back and forth between what happened and then indicate mistakes.
From the BBC: “Police have launched a massive manhunt for the killers of a young paperboy. Carl Bridgewater, 13, was shot in the head at close range yesterday afternoon at an isolated farmhouse near Stourbridge in Staffordshire. The farmhouse was one of the last calls on the paper-round the 13-year-old had done for only two months. The owners of Yew Tree Farm – cousins Mary Poole and Fred Jones – were disabled so Carl used to let himself into the house through the back door and leave their newspaper on a chair. It was then he disturbed the burglars who dragged him into the sitting room and shot him.”
Carl did not just interrupt the burglars or burglar, he knew them. The position in which the body was found indicates to me that someone asked or made Carl sit down. Then, he approached the boy and shot him at close range.
Also very disturbing in this case, is to read how clues were not acted on promptly and how some were disregarded. In this story, you can read how a bouquet of flowers confirmed an alibi and how a cardboard note did not reach the proper people.
If you love to dig into unsolved homicides this book is for you. Of course, it is dated but what happened to these four men involved, still happens to this day.