He claims he received a phone call on the night of the murders from his father, who told him his sister, Sheila, was running amok with a gun. Now, if Neville Bamba truly made that call, then we must conclude that Sheilla committed the murders. If, on the other hand, Jeremy Bamber never received that call. If that's a lie, then he is the killer. Once you consider both stories and the evidence that supports or contradicts them, there's only one option.
As with any crime and the subsequent investigation of it, examining the evidence is absolutely crucial. If you want to understand what happened, the notorious events that transpired in the early hours of August 7th, 1985 are no different. What the local police force encountered when they finally entered the farmhouse was quite literally a bloodbath. There were, in total, five bodies. Nevill in June, Bamber, their adopted daughter, Sheila Cofell, and the two six year old twin boys she'd had with her now ex-husband Colin, having been tipped off about a possible situation by Sheila's brother, Jeremy Bamber, who had informed them that his father had called and said Sheila was, quote, going berserk, unquote.
The police found a shotgun next to Sheila's body and treated it like an open and shut case of murder suicide. Upon further investigation of the evidence, however, it seemed like that wasn't actually the case. In fact, certain elements cast significant doubt upon Sheila's involvement, yet also made it clear that the real perpetrator had to be someone within the family. I'm Lauren Bright Pacheco, and welcome to the third episode of the official companion podcast to the HBO series The Murders at White House Farm.
Today, I'm speaking with Carolyn Lee, who wrote the 2015 book of the same name upon which much of the six part drama was based and accomplished and highly regarded. Biographer and author Carol has also written about the story and tragedy of Anne Frank and her family, as well as about one of Britain's other most notorious crimes, the Moors murders.
I talked with Carol about the evidence of what happened that night, how on a surface level, everything may have first pointed to a simple explanation that implicated a woman suffering from mental illness. But the truth was much more complicated than initially thought. Will review the facts discovered at the crime scene, examine why a more thorough examination of the evidence occurred, and reveal how suspicions began to shift towards Sheila's brother, Jeremy Bamber, as someone who did extensive research about every possible aspect of the crime for her book.
Carroll is the perfect person to talk to about the intricacies and nuances of evidence will explore the huge gulf between the circumstantial and forensic evidence, but also the various points at which they intersected. We'll also talk about how Jeremy was able at first anyway, to capitalize on his sister's fragile mental health and set the scene for his sister to be easily blamed for committing these atrocious crimes. Here now is my conversation with Carolyn Leigh. Tell me a little bit about your personal experience and hearing about the murders.
How old were you and where were you living at the time?
Well, I was 16 in 1995. The murders occurred in August 1995. And at that time, I lived in Cornwall in England. It was a huge case at the time. The Bambas were seen very much as sort of this idyllic country family, very gentrified. And it just seemed to come out of nowhere. And I think one of the reasons why it made such a big impression on me was it was the air of live aid. So that kind of immediately places you, you know, and in the middle of that summer came the the murders.
And what I remember most was the funeral footage which was aired on the news. It sounds terrible to say, because, of course, it was a huge tragedy, but there was something very cinematic about the actual funeral footage itself. You know, Jeremy Bambu was a good looking young man. He had his girlfriend there. It was such a huge tragedy. And at that point, certainly as far as we, the general public were concerned, he was a young man grieving for his entire family.
And when he broke down at the funeral, it was so upsetting to see if he didn't know his background at all. And it just made a big impression on me. And the case itself unfolded virtually daily in the newspapers at the time. And it seemed that every day something different was happening.
Jeremy Bamber and his girlfriend arrived, accompanied by close friends and family. Permission for the funerals to proceed was granted last Wednesday after an inquest into the tragic events at White House Farm, which left five dead.
Unfortunately for Americans, gun violence is something that we're bombarded with in the news. But was the fact that these were gun murders, did that help sensationalize it at the time in the UK?
I think that was part of it, definitely. I mean, gun crime, fortunately, is not so prevalent. And the fact that it was a young woman who'd gunned down her entire family, that's what we were told in the press to start, because, of course, that's what the police investigation started. It was a huge shock. Like I said, it came out of nowhere. It was just such a very unusual case in that respect. And, yes, it was sensationalized, but not just because of the fact that it was a gun crime.
It was more the people involved and the way the press handled the background story of the family. That's where the sensationalization came from.
Definitely. Sheila and Jeremy were both very telegenic, very good looking, striking people. So that probably added to the allure. You know, I know that Jeremy maintains a fan club of sorts today. Did that start during the initial coverage by the media?
Yes, it definitely did. I remember interviewing many policemen and one of them said that, you know, his daughter at the time was really so interested in Jeremy because of how he looked and was sort of saving the newspapers and saying, well, what's he like? And everything, as if as if he wasn't, you know, either a grieving son or a murderer, as you say. That's also why the press picked up on it, because, of course, Sheila had been a model.
And of course, the first headline I saw was the Daily Express, one, which was Suicide Girl Kills Twins and Parents. And there was a photograph of Sheila on the cover, just Sheila and just looking incredibly beautiful.
And from the outside, they seemed like a family who had everything. And then gradually, as the story played out in the press, you saw sort of this crumbling facade and what lay behind it.
Now, when did your personal interest in the case change from reader to writer? At what point did you decide to tackle it?
Well, I've been writing True Crime since 2010. And it was 2012 when I decided to write this book. And the reason was I'd written a couple of true crime books that had been well-received. And I watched a television program about the Bamber case. It was called Bamba the New Evidence. And I remembered the case, of course, from 1985. And it never really gone away, you know, because Jeremy's always protested his innocence. But in 2012, he had a couple of television programs were on about the case.
And I just thought, wow, yeah, it does still interest me. And the more I read about it, I read a bit more. And I just thought, yeah, this is something that I would really like to look into. I do remember it clearly and I think I can do something different. What, looking back, were the most damning pieces of evidence that initially pointed to Sheila as the main subject?
Well, really, it was Jeremy. He primed the police that very night. He phoned the police in the early hours of the morning on 7th of August and said, I've had a phone call from my father. He said, your sister's going crazy with the gun come over. So he'd phoned the police. He'd met the police at the farmhouse. And while they were stood outside, it was two policemen who turned up. Originally, he was talking about Sheila and her mental health problems, and he did that all the way through until the police actually broke into the farmhouse and found the bodies.
So he really set the scene, and there's no doubt about that. I mean, I interviewed several of the police officers who were present at the farm that night, and they all said, you know, the way he spoke about Sheila that night was not pleasant. I mean, obviously, he was apparently in a state of distress. She said she was crazy. She'd have breakdowns and so on and a recent breakdown. So the police were primed as to what they were going to go in and find.
And certainly the senior investigating officer just went with that. He really did. He walked in. He saw Sheila lying in the bedroom, dead with her mother dead on the other side of the bed. The gun was on. Sheila next to her was an open Bible. And as far as he was concerned, this was Taffe Jones. It was a very clear case of murder suicide and he didn't seem to want to go any further with that.
You were privy to all of the autopsy photos and you have seen many of the photos that others have not.
What impact did that have on you? I think primarily there's two things.
One is shock when you see the photographs. I mean, some photographs have been published on the Internet. Some have been doctored. For instance, there's a photograph of Sheila lying dead on her parents bedroom floor and it's been colorized so that the blood looks wet. In the actual original photograph. You can see the cracks in the blood. The blood is very clearly dry. She's died some time ago. Is the violence in those photographs, especially when it comes to Neville Bamba and Jean Bamba?
I mean, Sheila was shot twice, so the blood in that instance was minimal. She wasn't beaten. Neville Bamba was quite heavily beaten. His injuries were horrific. Jean Bamba was shot at close range. There was a bullet wound straight between her eyes. And in one of the photographs, her eyes are actually open. And it's almost like you can see the shock in her eyes. And then, of course, the photographs of the twins. The one thing I will say is the photograph of the twins.
It was one photograph when I saw that and I just thought, and that's why it's not Sheila more than anything, because without wanting to be too graphic, the injuries have been made by somebody with an incredibly steady hand who knows their way around a gun.
And actually, when we spoke to Colin, Sheila's ex-husband, for the previous episode of this podcast, he confirmed pretty definitively Sheila's lack of experience with firearms.
I know for a fact that she'd never fired a gun in her life when I found out there was a Tutut rifle rather than shotgun that killed them. Another friend who was a marksman said if she'd never fired a gun in her life, she could not have killed people with a Tutut rifle. You need to be a good shot. And every bullet found its target. And it was something like 23 bullets that would have meant reloading the rifle as well, which she would never have had any idea how to do is only with things like that were pointed out to me.
I knew she couldn't have done it at all ever, because what you have to bear in mind for an American audience is that people in Britain don't know about firearms. We have completely different gun laws. It's illegal to carry a gun anywhere in Britain. Farmers are allowed to use them for shooting vermin, and that's about it. But as I say, once the things started to be explained to me, then there was no doubt in my mind that there never has been since.
The inquest's next week, if their bodies get released, Jeremy Bamber plans to cremate them. That's evidence up in smoke. Evidence of what if the house was to secure the whole thing's wide open does mean that someone could have entered an next without us knowing.
And he says there's no way Sheila's suicide was staged. No sign of a struggle. Toxicology shows she wasn't drunk.
Neville Barnbougle. Jeremy told him Sheila was going crazy with a gun. If you believe Jeremy, the phone call he said his dad made to and it doesn't make sense.
So you're accusing him now? Are you the son? Someone shooting me? I don't call my son down the road. I call 999.
Did you still feel when you drove in to the evidence that it was always more circumstantial than direct evidence when it came to Sheila?
Yes, very much so. You know, the fact was that the gun was on her body. But although Bambas supporters have put out material saying that Sheila's nails were chipped and broken, actually, if you look at the original crime scene and Mauceri photographs, her nails are intact. None of the nails are broken. They're somewhere on the Polish, which is not the same as Polish being chipped. And the fact that, yes, the gun was on her body, but there was no residue on her hands.
She was wearing a nightdress to say she'd apparently gone round the house on this horrendous rampage, shot her family at close range. There was no evidence on her nightdress to show that and no evidence on her.
You know, the blood that was on her was her own blood, not to mention that she didn't have pockets on that nightdress. So there wouldn't have been a place to store the bullets.
No, she would have had to have reloaded the gun at least twice. So many rounds were fired that night and actually only one missed its target and she wasn't proficient with a gun. I know, again, Jeremy's campaign team have said, oh, she lived on a farm. She knew one end of a gun from another. But the fact was that the medication she was on for her illness made her extremely unsteady. And in the couple of days before the murders, there are a number of eyewitness accounts of people who knew her and said that she was walking very strangely.
She was almost she was like a zombie. I think three or four people said that. I interviewed Sheila's best friend and I interviewed her at her home in London. And I was sat on the sofa having a cup of tea with her. And she said, the last time I saw Sheila was three or four days before the murders. She was sat exactly where you are now. And she couldn't get up without help because she was that knocked out by the meds that she was on.
She hated those meds. She desperately wanted to be off them. So the idea of someone who was, you know, in this kind of zombie like state, then suddenly getting this energy to go round on this horrific rampage without getting blood on themselves, razu not chipping a nail, it really wasn't credible at all. And again, speaking with Colin, he mentioned how impaired she'd become by the medication she was being given around the time of the murders.
From what I understand, she was being given a cocktail of major tranquilizers, things like haloperidol and excessively high levels of doses. And her GP was not happy with how much she was having to give her that have been prescribed by the psychiatrist. But the nature of those major tranquilizers is pretty devastating physically. She couldn't make a cup of coffee without missing the cup or pour some baked beans onto a plate for the twins and she'll miss the plate. Hand eye coordination was almost zero.
So that is the state she was in at the time of the shootings.
May we talk a little bit about how she'll a state of mind and her diagnosis as schizophrenic impacted the police interpretation of the evidence and really set her up as the perfect suspect?
Yeah, I think that's definitely true, because certainly back in 1985, I hope we've come a long way since then as far as mental illness discussion is concerned. But, you know, she was seen by certain sections of the police as a nutter, you know, because she'd gone through psychiatric care. She was schizophrenic. There was so much negativity in the press as well towards people with schizophrenia. Certainly back then it was pretty vicious stuff. If you go back to the press at the time, anyone who'd committed any crimes with schizophrenia, they talked about in really pretty horrendous terms.
So as far as that was concerned, again, it primed the police to believe that, yes, this is the perfect perpetrator. You know, it's obvious it's her. They did speak to very many people. I mean, there are literally thousands of witness statements in the police files and people do talk about her illness. And there were times clearly when her illness was more severe than others. She'd had a breakdown in March 1995, so just a few months before the murders occurred.
But she was starting to try and sort of get herself round again. She'd come out of mental health care. One of the big things at that point was she'd met her birth mother. And Colin said that that made a huge difference to her mental health because she didn't get on particularly well with her adoptive mother, June, who was murdered. So although Jeremy was saying to the police or, you know, she's mad, she's done this, that and the other, he also said that she'd attacked her own children, only he witnessed that no one else witnessed that attack.
She did say some strange things when she was ill, but you would expect that from somebody who was ill. But as far as her life was concerned, in those last few weeks, she was starting to get more settled.
So I shoot Sheila Jean car for 28 X fashion model, currently unemployed, recently discharged from St Andrews a the psych hospital up in Northamptonshire.
We've spoken to anyone there have been treating her following a major psychotic episode, but she has a long history of schizophrenia. So violent. Well, doctors said no, but she'd been getting regular injections of an antipsychotic and they just dropped the dose by 50 percent. That's what set that off. That doctor didn't think so, but he didn't rule it out, though, either.
And unfortunately, I'm sure that her diagnosis made her an easier target for the tabloids as well, because, oh, absolutely. Anything they wanted to throw her way seemed plausible given the fact that she had an irrational history.
Absolutely. So there was that and the fact that she'd been a sort of semi successful model. The newspapers leapt on that and they kind of because she wasn't a hugely successful model, it was almost as if she was sort of they were kind of hinting at loose morals and so on. She was a drug taker. She'd got all these drug debts. This is what they were saying. But actually, nothing could have been further from the truth. And people who knew her well just didn't recognise the Sheila that was in the newspapers at all.
And I think that was also what was so deeply upsetting for people at the time who were close to her was the fact that she'd been murdered. But she was also murdered a second time by the tabloids. They really did go to town on her character and just completely desecrated her.
And when that judgement on her turned, what were the main things that cast doubt on her involvement? You've mentioned the manicure and her night dress, but what were the other main things that made it implausible?
No one could believe that she had committed those murders, knowing the kind of character she was. First and foremost, she was a very gentle person. If ever she did lose her temper, it was again. Herself, you know, she had a very fiery marriage to Colin, and whenever they used to row, he says very clearly that, you know, it was herself she took it out on, not him. She would shout, but she would never hurt him.
But as far as the actual evidence itself is concerned, the silence was key because with the silencer on the gun, she could not have had the reach to shoot herself and to shoot herself twice. You know, the fact that the police didn't really pick up on that straight away is also quite shocking. I think really the fact that she had shot herself twice, apparently I spoke to the pathologist who was involved in the case and he said it wasn't impossible, but it was unlikely.
You know, it was something that really made you think. And he said, well, I have seen cases where people have shot themselves more than once, but the fact was that she wouldn't have had the reach with her arms, with the silencer on to have moved the gun under her chin, to have made those wounds upon herself. He said, Looks to me like a second bullet wound or so she'd been shot twice. Apparently so. And we're saying she did this to herself.
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Now shifting a little bit towards Jeremy, the person who most adamantly accused Sheila from the get go, what were the most damning pieces of evidence that started to shift the blame his way?
Well, primarily to start with, it was his behavior in the immediate aftermath of the murders. You know, he immediately started selling things from the House. White House farm was a very old house. They did have quite a lot of antiques. They had some incredibly valuable things in the house. He started selling those immediately. The way he was acting generally was very strange. You know, everyone is affected differently by grief. And we do know this.
But, you know, he was wanting to go out. He was spending lots of money. He was very generous with his money. He wasn't spending it just on himself, but he was really sort of living a very unusual life for someone who just had his entire family wiped out. And that was really what I think more than anything, upset the relatives who were very close to the case at the time. And that's what they felt. You know, the fact that he was at the funeral, he was seen laughing and joking.
Afterwards, he came downstairs at the funeral in his cottage where everyone had gathered and he was wearing a Hugo Boss suit. And he opened the jacket up and pointed to the boss label and said, that's me.
Now I'm the boss in the car. On the way to the funeral, he was cracking jokes about what he was going to do to his girlfriend. And just the way he acted at the funeral really sort of caused a lot of suspicion amongst those who were close to the family. Colin, the twins father, he remembers that very clearly and said, you know, the moment Jeremy broke down, it was so sort of staged in a way. And that's what the police said as well.
You know, the man who eventually became the senior investigating officer because the original one was taken off the case and this one came on. He was watching it at home on the television. And his wife at the time said that Sue did not the daughter. That's your culprit there. And then as the weeks went on, his behaviour just became stranger. For instance, he'd found photographs of Sheila seminude and he wanted to sell those to a newspaper. He tried to sell them to a very well known British tabloid who, surprisingly enough, even they wouldn't touch them.
So they ran the story of Bambi's brother wanting to sell these photographs, which again, just did him no favors whatsoever, because why would you do that no matter what is going on? Why would you do that?
And particularly since he stood to inherit a great deal of money already, it seemed even more twisted.
Yeah, it really did. It was as if he completely lost sight of people's awareness of him. I can't really describe it, except it's he's always been seen as being someone who's very self-confident to the point of conceit, and he knows that himself. You know, he's very self aware in that regard now. But at the time, it was very conceited. The way he treated his girlfriend at the time, Julie McGiffert, was part of the reason that the whole case sort of exploded against him because he started being interested in other women.
He saw another woman and Julie, who knew his secret, who came forward later and told the police she knew he'd been planning to commit these murders. He thought he could finish with her and she would keep quiet, but she didn't. She went to the police and said, OK, I have something to tell you about the murders.
And also, she played a key part in his initial story about the calls, about his father calling him. Can you just break that down in terms of how the phone call that he claims he received from his father ultimately didn't add up?
Well, he said that he'd got a call from his father around quarter past 3:00 in the morning and his father had said that Sheila had gone berserk with a gun. Could he come over? And when you look at the crime scene photographs, the first thing you notice in the kitchen is the telephone that Neville Bamba, Jeremy's father, is supposed to have made the call from is immaculate.
There's no blood on it. Not a single mark on it. And yet when Neville came down the stairs, he was shot initially in the bedroom. That was quite a bit of blood at that point. And you can see bloodstains on the side of the kitchen counters and so on. But the telephone is completely immaculate. It was left off the hook as well. If he had been shot in the face or the mouth at that point. Yeah. Speaking, I would imagine.
Yeah, he could not have spoken. And, you know, the forensic experts believe that Neville was shot upstairs, as you say, in the jaw, and there's no way he could have made a phone call with those kinds of injuries. He just just wasn't physically possible.
And in terms of the phone being. Laughed off the hook. How does that call into question Jeremy's claim that he then called Julie and the police?
Yeah, this is still kind of a bit of a gray area because there's a certain length of time before you can call out if somebody left the phone off the hook. And no one's really seem to have got to the bottom of that part yet. But there are some questions over whether Jeremy could have made these calls. But certainly at some point he did phone Julie and he didn't say anything too pointed. But he basically said to her, something is wrong at the farm.
Her friends who she lived with, she was a student at the time, all heard the phone guy. He then phoned her back a second time. And so she knew that the murders he'd been talking about had happened that night. He then phoned the police. But there's some sort of discrepancy between did he find the police first? Did he find Julie first? Yes, he phoned Julie first. Then he phoned the police and said he'd had this call from his father.
And that's when the police said, we will meet you at the farm.
And he didn't choose to make an emergency call in the United States. It's nine one one in the UK, it's nine nine nine. Yeah. Here it's nine nine nine.
You know, you're always taught from the moment you can speak, an emergency call is nine nine nine. You don't do anything else. And instead of ringing 999, he then got his telephone directory and looked up the number of the local police station and rang them. Nine nine nine is so easy.
But he said he thought, oh, no, it'd be better to keep it local and get the local police out, which just makes no sense whatsoever because he then had to waste time looking up the number, you know, and if your dad has phoned me saying we're all in immediate danger from your sister with the gun, why would you then think, oh, I'll just flick through the Yellow Pages to find a number when you just ring three digits and they're there and then arrive after the police arrived on the location?
Yeah, the police came from with them and they actually passed him. He was going very slowly. And afterwards he was asked about this and he said he was frightened of getting there on his own, which on one hand, I guess, is kind of plausible. But on the other, I don't know. Wouldn't you just go? I don't know. I think that obviously depends on the kind of person you are. But certainly the police passed him going about 30 miles an hour on these back roads in Essex, which a nice wide roads.
You know, there's nobody else going on those roads at that time. Even if you're not in an emergency, most people tend to go quite quickly on those roads. So the fact that they passed him and then had to wait for him to come to them, they found that very odd, the two policemen who were there. But I interviewed both of them and they said that was strange to start with.
And also odd was the way in which or the decision he made about his mother's dog, Crispi. Yeah.
When the White House farm drama went out, there was quite a lot of controversy over this. But the fact is that his mother was very devoted to her little dog, Crispi. Everyone else called it the past. But, you know, he was a little snappy dog, but she really loved him. And he was really the closest connection to June after the murders. And on the day of the murders, one of the police came out and said, look, we found the dog.
It was hiding under the bed in your parents room, cowering. And it had been put in the wardrobe by the police officers who'd gone in to keep away from the crime scene. But somebody had gone in, brought it out. They handed it to Jeremy and he kind of reluctantly took it home with him. And then a couple of days later, he rang the vet. There were two dogs. So there was Crispi, his mother's dog, and that was Bruce, a black Labrador.
He was a proper working farm dog. He got the Labrador rehoused, but he had Crispi put down and he said it was because the dog had got a bit snappy. But if you go back to the original vet statement, the vet didn't like having to put the dog down at all. And when the drama was shown on television over here in the UK, Jeremy's campaign team said Jeremy didn't have that dog put down. It was the vet suggestion.
So I said to them, well, then you put the vet statement on the Internet, but they didn't make it very clear in the vet statement that it was Jeremy's idea to have the dog put down.
Wow, that poor little dog shit it was pining for mom. It was kind of rubbish. That's rubbish. Come on. I know you didn't like him either for Auntie June did.
She loved him and you killed him. Yeah, you're right. She didn't have that bloody thing. She loved it more than she loved me. That's not true, Mum. She loved the dog more than me. She did more than me. She love you more than me. And you expect me to keep that snappy little piece of shit around my house reminded me of it going back to the evidence.
Ended up pointing towards Jeromy blood on the silencer was a big thing that's been one of the most hotly contested, if not the most hotly contested points over the years. And that's the fact that the silencer was discovered. I think it was the 10th of August. It was discovered in a cupboard downstairs in Neville Bambas office at the farm. And it was the cousins, Jeremy's cousins, who were at the farmhouse. And they were looking around because by this point, they were very suspicious of Jeremy indeed.
And David, both Jeremy's cousin looked in the what they called the gun cupboard. It certainly wasn't a proper gun cupboard. It was a cupboard under the stairs. And he found the silencer and there was blood on the silencer and a gray hair. Now, the police came and collected that silencer. But unfortunately, again, this is a real black mark against them. They didn't bring something to back it properly. Stan Jones, who was really one of the ones who was really pushing the case against Jeremy, he put it inside a kitchen holder and secured the ends and it was then transferred to the forensic lab.
By the time it had been transferred to the forensic lab, the grey hair was missing, but there was still blood on the silencer. So that was basically one of the things that convicted him. That was one of the key pieces of evidence that it was Sheila's blood in the silencer that's been contested since. And over the years, the silencer has just mutated into various levels. At one point, Jeremy was saying to me there were five silences in the case at the moment is two silences.
So I'm not really sure where he's at at the moment. But certainly the last time it was discussed in the press here, the Crown Prosecution Service said it doesn't matter if there are 50 silences. What matters is the one that was there that night have got the blood in it. When was this?
He found it Saturday morning after consulting the solicitor. We went round to secure the valuables.
So today it took me two days to call me.
I rang the station, immediately, left a message. I didn't get it. Did you speak to an officer? I don't recall his name. The scratches on the barrel and blood. If this was on the gun at the time of the murders, then that would explain why they didn't all wake up immediately.
Now, speaking of evidence, going back to your book versus the series, did the core points you made in the book make it through the transition into the adaptation? Or did you watch it and feel that there were some missing things that you wish had remained then?
Well, I mean, the problem with the book is you can ramble on, you know, and in the television series, they've only got a certain amount of time and they do have to get the key points across. And for me, I felt they did that very, very well. They certainly got the key moments where the case started to turn against Jeremy. They did that brilliantly. In fact, they included a couple of things that when I knew they were going to make the drama, I thought they probably won't make it through.
So that was the scene where Jeremy and Julie have a fight because she finds out he's seeing someone else and she goes mad. She throws something at a mirror, the mirror smashes. They have a really bad row. And it's after that when she decides to go to the police and they handled all of that really well. So I'm really, really pleased. What didn't make it was the background story of the family. And that's really what interested me in the case more than anything.
For me, the book's kind of two parts. So it's the story of the family and it's the story of the investigation and for the purposes of television and the fact that they only have a set number of hours to play this out. It was the investigation that they went with and they did very well. What I was really pleased with was they started the drama at the same point that I started the book, which is a few days before the murders where Sheila and the twins go to stay at the farm.
Colin takes them. And they played that absolutely brilliantly. I thought, even though there was not a huge amount of time where we saw Sheila and the twins and Neville and Jean, when we did, you got such a sense of those people anyway. I feel I think they handled it very, very well. And do you feel that the series lived up to that impartiality that you really strove for in your book?
Yeah, very, very much so. I think they did it absolutely brilliantly. I saw the first episodes at home and that was the strangest thing I've never felt. So I kind of had such an out of body experience because, you know, to have gone from just sitting in a corner of my room, researching it, writing it to then see it played out. It's the most surreal feeling. Everything about it was so well done. The casting was sublime, I think.
I mean, Freddy Fox, who plays Jeremy, he's got exactly that kind of manner where you think he's one thing, maybe he's another. You're not quite sure there's something really likeable about him. And then all at once there's not. So, yeah, I thought the casting was absolutely superb. The direction for Whitington is known to be one of the best directors, if not the best. So everything about it for me, there's nothing I would criticize.
The only thing I would criticize if I had to was that I would have liked to see more of the family background by completely, except that the time constraints thing and in terms of excellent casting, I believe that there is a superior extra in one of the court scenes.
Yeah, my mom was so disappointed she thought I was a shoo in for Hollywood. But you don't tend to get in on the back of your head, I guess. Yeah, that was very strange because I was there for some of the filming and they said, would you like to appear in it? So yes, it's my Hitchcock moment. The back of my head appears in the courtroom. Things again, that's very strange because it was filmed not in the actual courtroom where Jeremy was tried, but next door.
So in that same building, but not in the same courtroom. And I just remember sitting there looking around and thinking, that's the judge. There's and there's Jeremy and his me. It's really odd. Very hard indeed. And I also went to the farmhouse that they chose to portray White House Farm in the middle of seemingly nowhere in Essex. It was all done very, very secretively. We got off this train. It was ferried there. And I'd been to the real farm and to walk through the door of the house they'd chosen to reconstruct as the farmhouse was another incredibly surreal feeling because the set dressing was out of this world.
It really was walking in and seeing the wallpaper's, the pictures, the little ornaments, the paintings. It really felt like properly walking into White House farm in the immediate aftermath. That was very eerie.
During all of your exhaustive research, you interviewed every possible source and all the key players. Was there one person who really made a big or lasting impact on you?
Everyone made an impact in their own ways, and that's the truth. You get such a different feeling for different aspects of the story, depending on who you're talking to. There was one policeman who I interviewed who did not want to be identified in the book, but was crucial to the case. And he was incredibly nervous. He'd never spoken to a journalist or a writer before. But to hear him talk about his experiences on the case and when he went into the farmhouse that morning, his wife had just had twin boys.
And, you know, it's still deeply affected him even today. And I think that's true of most of the police who were involved in that case. You know, the way that the Obama campaign talk about them, it's as if they were just robots, idiots. They were men and they were women. And they all felt that family, not one of them, was not affected. But as far as interviewing people is concerned, I think because I had such a strong feeling for Sheila, whenever I've written a book, there's always one person who really stands out for me and for me.
Sheila was the stand out person. I felt like I knew her. So go in to interview her best friend, Thóra. That really, really got to me. And I remember when I left her, I turned round and gave her a hug and she just said, I'm so happy because I know she looks safe in your hands. And I just walked away with tears down my face because they still loved her. Really? They still love her.
That's it for Episode three, I want to thank Carol for joining me today and for sharing with us her knowledge and expertise about the ins and outs of the evidence which made and broke this case. Particularly revealing was her insight regarding the interviews that described she was heavily medicated, zombie like state in the days before the murders, which were in stark contrast to the speed and precision with which the killings were carried out and the inconsistencies surrounding the kitchen phone and Jeremy's call timeline that she pointed out were arguably equally disturbing.
We feel lucky to have been able to chat with her, thankfully. I'll be talking to Carol again on the next episode, but this time to take an in-depth look at the role of the police in the case, the many missteps they took during the course of their investigation, and why those missteps may have occurred. Also, how the persistence of one stubborn detective led to the truth finally being unveiled. The murders at White House Farm, the podcast is a production of Biomax and I Heart Radio hosted by me Lauren Pacheco.
The podcast is produced by Ethan Fo'c'sle, written and researched by Mischa Perlman and engineered, edited and mixed by James Foster. If you haven't already subscribed, rated or reviewed the murders at White House Farm, the podcast, please do so on the I Heart radio app, Biomax, Apple podcasts or wherever you get your podcasts. And of course, be sure to watch the series itself on Biomax with all episodes available to stream now.