Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Disappearance of Lord Lucan


Patrick Marnham's Trail of Havoc
Patrick Marnham's Trail of Havoc
Almost one week following the attacks at number 46 Belgrave Street, police issued a warrant for the arrest of Lord Lucan. By then it was too late. According to Patrick Marnham, without a warrant, attempts to track Lord Lucan were severely hampered. Investigators were unable to search private property in direct relation to the case without a warrant and the time it took to obtain it allowed Lord Lucan ample time to disappear. Police mounted an extensive search for Lord Lucan, but to no avail. He was never found.

There were many theories about his whereabouts. Some believed that he committed suicide in the waters off Newhaven. Police sent 14 divers to search the water around the harbor, but no body was found. There was also a land search in which 14 sniffing dogs tracked Lord Lucans scent. However, they were unable to find any trace of him.

It was also believed that Lord Lucan could have taken a ferry from Newhaven earlier that morning in an effort to escape the country. Two fishermen claimed to have seen a man resembling Lord Lucan walking along the pier in Newhaven the morning after the murder. Police speculated that he could have stowed away on the ferry since he had no passport or wallet in his possession to buy a ticket. Detectives traveled to France, where they interviewed immigration and security officials, but no one could recall seeing anyone who matched Lord Lucans description.

Other information received by Interpol suggested that Lord Lucan was possibly staying in France. Roy Ranson told of the owner of a hotel in Cherbourg who in 1975 reported that a frequent guest of her hotel matched the description of Lord Lucan. When the staff members were shown photos of Lord Lucan, they confirmed that the man they had seen was the man in the pictures. They said that the man spoke fluent French. Sally Moore reported that Lord Lucan hired a French girl for 45 minutes a day on as many weekdays as possible. The girl may have been employed to teach him French.

In the years that followed, police became inundated with thousands of Lord Lucan sightings from around the globe Africa, Australia, the Netherlands, Ireland and Sicily.

Lord Lucan with relatives in Zimbabwe before his disappearance (The Countess of Lucan)
Lord Lucan with relatives in
Zimbabwe before his
(The Countess of Lucan)
Detectives became particularly interested in sightings in South Africa when they discovered that Lord Lucans children spent considerable amounts of time vacationing there when they became adults. In September 1995, Londons Observer newspaper reported that Scotland Yard detectives were convinced that Lord Lucan was alive and living in Johannesburg. They were so convinced that they began to monitor the childrens travel in the country. However, there was nothing reported thereafter that supported this theory.

In October 1999, Britains High Court ruled the Seventh Earl of Lucan officially dead even though his body had not been found. Lord Lucans estate, valued at less than 15,000 was released to executors. Lady Lucan told The Times that she hoped that would, put an end to it. Although the death was made official, the Seventh Earl of Lucans son George Bingham was unable to become a member of the House of Lords because there was no definitive proof that his father was dead.

There continue to be sightings of the Seventh Earl of Lucan around the world, the most recent being in Australia in May 2000. But investigators have no new evidence of the elusive aristocrat.

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