mur­der, fraud, power and money

Ca­role Pack­man en­dured her hus­band’s con­trol­ling ways for years. When she fi­nally stood up to him, she sim­ply dis­ap­peared

Real Crime - - Contents - Words Robert Walsh

Ca­role Pack­man dis­ap­peared shortly after her hus­band took a new lover. Her body has never been found, but her killer even­tu­ally was

Back­ground

When Veron­ica Pack­man ( who pre­ferred to be known as Ca­role) van­ished, it wasn’t ini­tially sus­pi­cious. Her hus­band Rus­sell Pack­man was a con­trol­ling type with a ten­dency to do as he pleased. He also ex­pected oth­ers to do as he wanted, re­spond­ing badly to any­thing else. At first it seemed an or­di­nary break- up. A note was left on a ta­ble with a ring ex­plain­ing that she’d had enough, was leav­ing and wasn’t com­ing back. Events, though, started tak­ing a more sin­is­ter turn.

Ca­role hadn’t taken any­thing with her – no overnight bag, clothes, fam­ily heir­looms, doc­u­ments or trea­sured pos­ses­sions. It wasn’t di­rectly sus­pi­cious in it­self, but cer­tainly not the usual pat­tern for a break- up. It also wasn’t usual that it was her daugh­ter Sam who re­ported her mother miss­ing.

Rus­sell had taken in a fe­male lodger, Pa­tri­cia Caus­ley, a work col­league some 14 years his wife’s ju­nior. He and Pa­tri­cia had be­gun an in­creas­ingly bla­tant af­fair that caused end­less ten­sion, ar­gu­ments and stress in the house.

Re­la­tions be­tween all con­cerned were frac­tious. Their daugh­ter Sam be­gan hav­ing par­tic­u­larly bit­ter dif­fi­cul­ties with her mother, who, un­sur­pris­ingly, was grow­ing in­creas­ingly un­happy. With all that in mind, Ca­role’s ap­par­ent de­par­ture was no sur­prise.

Re­as­sur­ance came when po­lice in­formed the fam­ily that Ca­role had vis­ited a po­lice sta­tion, iden­ti­fied her­self, given her rea­son for leav­ing and asked for no fur­ther con­tact. This isn’t as un­usual as it might sound. Some­times po­lice have the dif­fi­cult task of in­form­ing rel­a­tives that a miss­ing per­son is safe and well but, for what­ever rea­son, has cho­sen to aban­don their old life and start a new one some­where else. This seemed the case with Ca­role at first.

After the ap­par­ently or­di­nary breakup case, life went on. Sam and her father be­came ever- more hos­tile to one an­other – in­ci­dents of vi­o­lence and bul­ly­ing were fre­quent – and Rus­sell Pack­man asked Sam to leave as soon as she was old enough.

With his wife hav­ing van­ished and his daugh­ter now es­tranged, Rus­sell was free to carry on with life as he wanted. He sold the fam­ily home and changed his name by deed poll. Unusu­ally, he took his lover’s sur­name and be­came Rus­sell Caus­ley.

BREAK­THROUGH

By 1993 Rus­sell Caus­ley must have thought he’d got away with mur­der. The case wasn’t just cold, it was ap­par­ently solved and was no longer a case at all. That was un­til Rus­sell was caught fak­ing his own death in an in­sur­ance scam.

With Pa­tri­cia’s help he’d ‘ drowned’ after fall­ing off a yacht near Guernsey. Pa­tri­cia’s ac­count of events was du­bi­ous, and a mys­te­ri­ous ‘ Mr Rus­sell’ had boarded a hy­dro­foil to the main­land im­me­di­ately after Rus­sell’s ap­par­ent drown­ing. Sure enough, Pa­tri­cia had promptly made a £ 790,000 in­sur­ance claim, and the in­sur­ers alerted po­lice. The pair were then caught sit­ting to­gether in a pub. Tried for fraud, Rus­sell Caus­ley was jailed in 1995.

Ca­role’s mur­der then came back to bite him. Guernsey po­lice asked their col­leagues in Dorset for back­ground in­for­ma­tion on the pair. Ca­role’s dis­ap­pear­ance came up, as well as the fact her daugh­ter Sam had re­ported her miss­ing, not hus­band Rus­sell. Cu­ri­ous if not yet sus­pi­cious, po­lice re- ex­am­ined Ca­role’s dis­ap­pear­ance.

Un­der ques­tion­ing Rus­sell and Pa­tri­cia Caus­ley per­formed badly. Rus­sell seemed con­trol­ling, con­stantly an­swer­ing ques­tions ad­dressed to Pa­tri­cia. He in­sisted on record­ing the in­ter­view and of­fered dif­fer­ent ver­sions of Ca­role’s dis­ap­pear­ance. A rou­tine in­quiry be­came out­right sus­pi­cion.

Fur­ther in­crim­i­nat­ing ev­i­dence fol­lowed. A woman, claim­ing to be Ca­role Pack­man, had in­deed vis­ited a Bournemouth po­lice sta­tion shortly be­fore Christ­mas 1985. She’d told the desk of­fi­cer she was safe, well and wanted no fur­ther con­tact with her fam­ily. The desk of­fi­cer, how­ever, had done noth­ing to con­firm her iden­tity.

In­ves­ti­ga­tions also re­vealed that, shortly be­fore her dis­ap­pear­ance, Ca­role had vis­ited a solic­i­tor about a di­vorce. The con­trol­ling Rus­sell’s do­mes­tic bliss was un­der threat. Di­vorced, he’d lose half of his as­sets. Per­haps more in­tol­er­a­ble for him, Ca­role would also then be be­yond his con­trol.

Po­lice dis­cov­ered that the solic­i­tor had fully ex­pected to see her again, but Ca­role sim­ply van­ished without con­tact­ing any friends or rel­a­tives. And, de­spite on­go­ing med­i­cal is­sues, she stopped vis­it­ing the doc­tor and den­tist.

She had, ac­cord­ing to of­fi­cial pa­per­work, gone to work abroad. That false pa­per trail led to Mon­treal, Canada, where Pa­tri­cia,

pos­ing as Ca­role, had used her work per­mit. Forged Land Reg­istry doc­u­ments per­mit­ting Rus­sell Caus­ley to sell the fam­ily home also turned up. A stor­age unit was found con­tain­ing some of Ca­role’s pos­ses­sions – a unit only Rus­sell could ac­cess.

Af­ter­math

With so much ev­i­dence, even without Ca­role’s body, Rus­sell was tried for her mur­der. It’s a com­mon myth that a mur­der case re­quires a body to go to trial and ob­tain a con­vic­tion. But the jury didn’t need a body, they just needed to ex­am­ine the avail­able ev­i­dence to de­cide whether they be­lieved Ca­role was mur­dered and Rus­sell was guilty.

Rus­sell made mul­ti­ple con­fes­sions while await­ing trial, hop­ing to con­fuse in­ves­ti­ga­tors and ju­rors and pro­vide grounds for ap­peal if he was con­victed. In his mind, ma­nip­u­la­tion and con­trol were still the or­der of the day.

In 1996 he was con­victed, but the con­vic­tion was quashed in June 2003. It seemed that his ploy had worked when his ap­par­ent con­fes­sions were ruled un­safe. He was re­tried in 2004 and con­victed again – this time his sis­ter tes­ti­fied that he’d also con­fessed to her.

Since his sec­ond con­vic­tion he has played a cat- and- mouse game with po­lice and his own fam­ily, try­ing to pull strings like a per­verse pup­pet mas­ter. He’s of­fered sev­eral times to say what he did with Ca­role’s body, but has al­ways then with­drawn the of­fer. Even to­day, after over 20 years in prison, he still en­joys con­trol, ma­nip­u­la­tion and power games. Even his own pro­ba­tion of­fi­cer has op­posed his be­ing paroled.

To this day no­body ex­cept Rus­sell

Caus­ley knows what he did with Ca­role’s body. Hav­ing served over 20 years he is now el­i­gi­ble for pa­role, some­thing his own daugh­ter and grand­son are firmly op­posed to.

“The case wasn’t just cold, it was ap­par­ently solved and was no longer a case at all. That was un­til Rus­sell was caught fak­ing his own death ”

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