Pensioner charged with murdering wife following 1982 disappearance

A pensioner has been charged with the murder of his wife, whose remains were found in a septic tank after she disappeared in 1982.

The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) said David Venables, 88, is accused of killing 48-year-old Brenda Venables, who was reported missing from the couple’s then home in Bestmans Lane, Kempsey, almost 40 years ago.

West Mercia Police launched a murder investigation after the grim find at the address in the Worcestershire village on July 12, 2019.

Human remains found in septic tank
Brenda Venables’ remains were found in a septic tank (Richard Vernalls/PA)

Mark Paul, head of the complex casework unit, said: “The decision to authorise the charge against the defendant was made after careful consideration of all the available evidence of this complex case and determining that a prosecution is required in the public interest.

“The alleged offences occurred between May 2 1982 and May 5 1982.

“The function of the CPS is not to decide whether a person is guilty of a criminal offence, but to make fair, independent and objective assessments about whether criminal charges are appropriate.

“Criminal proceedings are now active, and there must be no reporting, commentary or sharing of information online which could prejudice these proceedings.”

Human remains found in septic tank
Officers searched a bungalow in Kempsey shortly after the discovery of the remains (Richard Vernalls/PA)

It is understood Mrs Venables’ remains were discovered after the tank was drained during routine maintenance.

In July 2019, officers from West Mercia Police carried out searches at a bungalow in a quiet cul-de-sac in Kempsey, following the discovery of the remains earlier that month.

The force launched an “unexplained death” inquiry and linked it to the disappearance of the farmer’s wife.

In May 1982, the Worcester Evening News ran a story on Mrs Venables going missing two days earlier from her home in Bestmans Lane.

The article described police using a helicopter to search the banks of the nearby River Severn.

Venables, of Kempsey, was charged with murder on Tuesday and will appear at Worcester Magistrates’ Court on June 15, the CPS said.