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