In a story that is sure to shed a macabre light on the British aristocracy, the mysterious disappearance of Lord Lucan in 1974 has been put to rest with an official declaration that he’s probably dead.
This formal decision by a British court will let Lord Lucan’s son, George Bingham, to become the 8th Lord Lucan and inherit his estate, the Guardian reported. The aristocrat, who’d now be in his 80s, has been declared dead because no one has claimed to have seen in him at least seven years.
Lord Lucan’s fate after bludgeoning his children’s nanny to death, then severely throttling his own wife, Lady Lucan, has been a whodunit worthy of Agatha Christie for 40 years. But this declaration does nothing to illuminate the mystery of what happened.
On November 7, 1974, the nanny to the three Lucan children, Sandra Rivett, was found murdered at the family’s home on Belgrave Street in London. The attacker turned on the children’s mother, Lady Lucan, but after suffering a severe beating, she managed to escape to a pub nearby to find help.
As his nanny lay dead and his wife fled for her life, Lord Lucan vanished. He drove to a friend’s house in a borrowed car. It was later found, abandoned and soaked in blood in East Sussex. The Lady claimed that her husband admitted to killing the nanny and soon after leapt from a ferry leaving Newhaven, killing himself, BBC added.
Shortly afterward, the sightings began. In January, someone claimed to have spotted the killer aristocrat in Australia and five months later in France. A sighting was reported to the Metropolitan police in 2002. But since no one has seen hide nor hair of the earl in at least seven years, the court has determined that whether or not he killed himself in 1974, he’s surely dead now.
There are two men at the center of this crime. The new Lord Lucan, George Bingham, and the nanny’s son, Neil Berriman. For years, Berriman accused unnamed people of “withholding evidence and not telling the truth,” claimed there was “blood contamination” at the crime scene, and that “the police know more about this than they have ever let on.”
But with his mother’s killer now officially deceased, Berriman admits he and the new lord have much in common, and they’re now friends. But he still sees his mother as a victim who never saw justice.
“Maybe the police know more than they let on. But at the end we have to get to the truth and justice for Sandra. A horrible death, a young woman beaten — my mother. There is no getting away from the fact that, whatever happened that night, Lord Lucan is guilty of something in my eyes.”
For his part, Bingham thinks his father ended it all in 1974, despite the “extraordinary tales,” some of which he called “reasonably tasteless.”
“(It’s) possible that he saw his life at an end, regardless of guilt or otherwise, being dragged through the courts and the media would have destroyed his personal life, his career and the chances of getting the custody of his children back. And that may well have pushed a man to end his own life, but I have no idea.”
These “reasonably tasteless” theories are fascinating, some of the gruesome. Lord Lucan has been spotted in Ireland, Africa, and New Zealand. He also went to India to become a hippy called “Jungly Barry,” and was seen at an “ex-Nazi colony in Paraguay, a sheep station in the Australian outback, backpacking on Mount Etna and working as a waiter in San Francisco,” the Guardian noted.
Perhaps the most colorful tale has been told by author Bill Coles, who shared his theory in article for Huffington Post UK. Remember that friend to whom Lord Lucan fled after the murder? Coles — and others — believe that this friend fed him to a tiger.
The story arose second-hand, however, and goes something like this: The friend’s name was multi-millionaire (and accused “scoundrel”) John Aspinall. As he sought refuge in his luxurious mansion, the aristocrat confessed, but was worried about what would happen to his kids and estate.
Aspinall’s solution was that his friend kill himself and then disappear, so that his estate would be tied up long enough for his kids to grow up and make their own decisions. He provided the pistol, Lord Lucan proceeded to dispatch himself, and Aspinall fulfilled his end of the bargain — getting rid of the body.
In this telling of Lord Lucan’s fate, he ended up in the stomach of Zorra the tiger. The police actually entertained this theory at one point, and asked the millionaire once whether it was true. His response?
“My tigers are only fed the choicest cuts — do you really think they’re going to eat stringy old Lucky?”
[Photo by Douglas Miller/Getty Images]