A CCTV evidence from the New Strand Shopping Centre in Bootle on 12th February 1993. It showed Thompson and Venables nonchalantly observing children, seemingly select a target. The boys were playing truant from school, a habit they frequently indulged in.
Thompson and Venables were pilfering various items, including confectionery, a troll doll, batteries and a cane of blue paint. Some of these items later discovered at the location of the murder. One of the boys planned to abduct a child. He lure them to the busy road near the mall, and push them into the traffic.
During the same afternoon, James Bulger disappeared. He accompanied his mother Denise to the New Strand Shopping Centre. While inside A.R. Tym’s butcher shop at approximately 3:40 PM, Denise, momentarily distractedly realized that her son had vanished. James lingered near the open door of the shop while she placed an order. That’s the time when Thompson and Venables spotted him. They approached him and they engaged in conversation. Then they took him out of the vicinity. A CCTV camera captured this incident as timestamped at 15:42.
The boys led Bulger on a winding 2.5 mile (4.0 kilometres) journey across Liverpool to the Leeds. They dropped him at Liverpool Canal with injuries to his face. The boys callously joked about pushing Bulger into the canal. During their proceedings through Liverpool, they 38 individuals observed them.
Bulger with a bump on his forehead. He was crying, yet most passerbys took no action, assuming he was a younger sibling. Although two people stopped the older boys. But they explained that Bulger was their lost younger brother. They were escorting him to the local police station. At one point, the boys took Bulger to a pet shop but subsequently asked to leave. Eventually, the boys arrived in the village of Walton. However, they hesitated upon facing Walton Lane police station across the road. They led Bulger up a steep bank to a railway line near the defunct Walton & Anfield railway station. It is in close proximity to Anfield Cemetery, and commenced their torment.
The trial established that at this location, one of the boys flung blue Humbrol into Bulger’s left eye. They kicked and stomp on him, hurling bricks and stones his way. The placed batteries in Bulger’s mouth. Although police suspected that some batteries may have inserted into his anus. Finally, a 22 pound (10.0 kg) iron bar dropped on him, resulting in ten skull fractures. Dr. Alan Williams, the pathologist in the case, declared that Bulger sustained a total of 42 injuries. It was impossible to identify which was the fatal blow.
The police suspected a sexual aspect to the crime, as Bulger’s shoes, stockings, trousers, and underpants had been removed. According to the pathologist’s report read in court, Bulger’s foreskin had been forcibly retracted. Thompson and Venables were reluctant to provide details about the attack to detectives and child psychiatrist Dr. Eileen Vizard. Moreover, they vehemently denied inserting batteries into Bulger’s anus.
Dr. Susan Bailey was Venables’ psychiatrist until he turned 21. She told, “Jon does not mention any sexual element to the offense” despite revisiting the issue multiple times”.
The boys laid Bulger across the railway tracks. They weighed his head down with debris, hoping to make his death appear as an accident by a passing train. After the killers departed, Bulger’s body severed in half by a train. His dismembered remains discovered two days later, on 14th February. The forensic pathologist testified that he had died before being struck by the train.
The police swiftly obtained low-resolution video footage of Bulger’s abduction from the New Strand Shopping Centre, featuring two unidentified boys. The circumstances surrounding Bulger’s demise became evident. Tabloid newspaper condemned those who witnessed the abduction but failed to intervene. It dubbed them the “Liverpool 38”. The railway embankment where Bulger’s body discovered became full with numerous floral tributes.
The crime ignited anger in Liverpool and across the nation. The family of one boy, initially detained for questioning but subsequently released. They compelled to flee the city. A breakthrough occurred when a woman, upon viewing slightly the images of the two boys on national television, recognized Venables. She knew he played truant with Thompson that day. She contacted the police, leading to the arrest of the boys.
Both juvenile perpetrators released from prison after adulthood, their identities protected by law.