Lindsay Jo Rimer – Hebden Bridge – 1994

Lindsay Jo Rimer (Born 17 February1981) was a thirteen year old girl from Hebden Bridge in West Yorkshire in the United Kingdom, who was murdered.

She was last seen alive in Hebden Bridge on 7 November 1994, and her body was found in a canal about a mile away on 12 April 1995. Despite repeated appeals for information by police, her murder remains unsolved.

Lindsay’s life

Lindsay Jo Rimer lived with her parents, two sisters and her brother in the family home on Cambridge Street in Hebden Bridge. She was in Year 8 at Calder High School and was described as a “popular” pupil.

Last sighting

In the late evening of November 7th. 1994 13 year old Lindsay Rimer, a Year 8 pupil at Calder High School, left her home in Cambridge Street to go shopping. She visited the Trades Club where her mother Geri was enjoying a night out, to get some money and was last seen alive on the CCTV at the Spar supermarket buying a packet of cornflakes for her breakfast next day.

CCTV showed Lindsay in the local Spar shop on the night she disappeared

Lindsay had a paper round at Forbuoy’s Newsagents who telephoned her parents next day to alert them to the fact that she had not turned up for her paper round that morning.

In spite of being assured by family and friends that Lindsay was unlikely to have left home, for some time the Police believed that she was one of the thousands of teenagers who run away every year. But when her weighted down body was discovered in the canal near Aquaspersion’s in April 1995 the hunt for Lindsay became the hunt for her murderer.

Since then Police have investigated the possibility that Lindsay might have been killed by either John Taylor or John Oswin, two men convicted of sexual attacks and murders of other young women in Yorkshire. So far, however, no evidence has been found to link her murder to either of these men.

In the past years Lindsay’s family have done a great deal to make sure that their daughter’s death is not forgotten organising vigils in November. Posters of Lindsay remain in the windows of shops all over Hebden Bridge. People are still being urged to see if they can remember anything about that night or to discuss any suspicions they may have with the Police.

Although it may seem a long time ago, the fact that her murderer has yet to be arrested disturbs many people in Hebden Bridge where the unsolved killing remains a major issue in residents’ minds. Before Lindsay’s murder Hebden Bridge seemed like a very safe place to live but the fact that her murderer may still be amongst us still troubles many of us. As Geri Rimer commented in 1999 on the fifth anniversary of Lindsay’s disappearance, It happened in this community — it still affects this community — and I believe that someone from this community did this to Lindsay.

From the moment her disappearance was notified, on the morning of November 8 1994, detectives had discreetly begun a murder inquiry in parallel with the missing person inquiry. They knew that every lead, every clue, every statement gathered in the early stages would be crucial if Lindsay wasn’t found alive. What many accounts of the case often overlook, however, are eerie links between the grim discovery at Callis Mill and Lindsay’s earlier life. There are strong connections between the place she was found and the surrounding area and some of its people.

Lindsay’s watery grave at Callis is shadowed by a steep wooded hillside above which are dotted the remote farms of Erringden, a gently sloping plateau that falls away from Erringden Moor to the South West.

And it was here, until about a year before she went missing, that Lindsay lived with her father Gordon and her older teenage brother Daniel. For over two years she and Daniel shared a green-painted caravan parked up at Lower Rough Head Farm. Her father Gordon had lived in another.

Both caravans are semi-derelict now. Since the three Rimers moved out, according to the farmer’s son, Ian Pratt, they have been used to keep ferrets in. The ceiling of the curtained off section where Lindsay slept is still dotted with stickers the adolescent Lindsay put there.

It must have been a strange place for the young girl. She and Daniel were brought there by their father. Their parents’ Rotherham pub, on the edge of a sink estate, fell victim, says Gordon Rimer, to the fag end of Thatcherism.

Lower Rough Head Farm was the bolt hole Gordon Rimer had brought Lindsay and Danny to whilst Geraldine stayed in Rotherham with their older sister Kate. Gordon says Geraldine refused to move back with him.

Yet several years earlier Gordon, Geraldine, Kate and Daniel had lived at the very same farm, according to farmer Bernard Pratt. “They lived at Higher Rough Head, only a poor little cottage, just Danny and Kate. That were before Lindsay was born.” When Bernard Pratt’s father died, the cottage was sold. (It seems that Geraldine Rimer was pregnant with Daniel at that time.) Bernard Pratt recalls Gordon turning up in 1991, telling him the pub had gone bust and asking if there was anywhere to stay. There wasn’t. But Gordon persuaded him to get the caravans.

(Only months before Lindsay was killed, early in 1994, former Calderdale councillor Eddie Scott — a close friend of Gordon Rimer — and Bernard Pratt caused a local furore with their plan to site a seven turbine windfarm at nearby Kershaw Farm).

Daniel seems to have loved the place. The way Gordon Rimer tells it, Daniel became an honorary member of the rural backwoods set. He did odd paid jobs for farmer Bernard Pratt. (The day before Lindsay went missing he was sheep dipping at the farm.) He learnt about nature red in tooth and claw too. Gordon Rimer, 51, stresses how at home his son Danny was. He learned a lot about the ways of country people during his time at Lower Rough Head Farm. Danny was fascinated. Foxes are a continuing menace to sheep farmers like Bernard Pratt. (They took 20 lambs this year) Killing them isn’t sport, it is economic survival.

Yet if Daniel relished life as a hillbilly slacker on the ramshackle hill farm, it must have been a very different story for Lindsay. In many ways she was isolated. She had to use the farmhouse phone to call her friends, for example. Bernard Pratt recalls he had to ration the calls: “I did get a bit annoyed when she kept telling her little school friends to ring up and I’d be working outside and have to come in to answer it. One night I had to come in three times so I said to her, ‘Lindsay I’m rationing you to one call a night now. I’m not going to be coming in like this.’ There was no nastiness.”

The incident offers a clue though, to Lindsay’s predicament then. Her mother and older sister Kate were in Rotherham, the other side of Yorkshire. She was stuck in the back of beyond, in an essentially all-male environment.

Bernard Pratt had a soft spot for Lindsay and used to pay her to clean the farmhouse kitchen. His wife Mary was something of a confidante. She and Lindsay baked cakes together and perhaps Mary provided a mother substitute? But Mary and her husband were going through a rocky patch and Mary moved out and into a nearby cottage.

No wonder the phone was Lindsay’s lifeline. That and the daily taxi that crawled up the winding road through the silver birch trees of Callis Wood and up to the farm to collect her and take her to school at Calder High.

How many times did Lindsay look idly across the Callis Bridge, as the taxi crossed the canal, then the river? Did she notice the metal hulks of barges and dredger tied up there at Callis Mill? Did this sensitive, sensible child ever feel one of those unaccountable shivers of dread as she crossed that bridge?

Initial police investigation

Police initially suspected that Rimer may have run away. There was local speculation that Rimer had been having trouble at home, although this was strenuously denied by her family. Rimer’s older sister Katie took part in a reconstruction of Rimer’s walk to the shop and hundreds of local people joined the police in searches of the area around Hebden Bridge, but no trace of Rimer was found.

Body found and post-mortem

Rimer’s weighted down body was found by two local workmen in the Rochdale Canal, about a mile upstream of the centre of Hebden Bridge, on 12 April 1995.

The post-mortem was carried out later that day at Royal Halifax Royal Infirmary by Home Office pathologist Professor Mike Green. He concluded that Rimer had probably been strangled. Her voicebox had been flattened against the spinal column and there were also signs of congestion across the middle of the neck muscles. There were no signs of a sexual assault.

Continuing police investigation

In the years since the discovery of Rimer’s body, the police have taken hundreds of witness statements and spoken to more than 5,000 people during their investigation. Detectives have looked into whether known criminals may have killed Rimer. John Taylor, the murderer of Bramley teenager Leanne Tiernan, and John Oswin have both been investigated, but no evidence has been found to link either to Rimer’s murder. Nobody has ever been charged over the murder.

Media reports on the Murder

November 2011

Police make new plea over Calderdale girl victim Lindsay Jo Rimer

A NEW appeal was made today to try and trap the killer of a West Yorkshire girl – 17 years after her death.

It is now 17 years since Hebden Bridge schoolgirl Lindsay Jo Rimer disappeared.

Lindsay, who would have celebrated her 30th birthday this year, disappeared on Monday, November 7, 1994.

The 13-year-old had left home that day to buy cereal from the local supermarket. She never returned and five months later her body was recovered from the Rochdale Canal.

Det Supt Colin Prime, of West Yorkshire Police’s Major Investigation Review Team, said: “I firmly believe that someone, somewhere could hold vital information that would lead us to the killer.

“Although 17 years has passed since Lindsay’s disappearance, we continue to seek the vital pieces of information that will bring closure to the investigation and for Lindsay’s family.”

During the last 17 years extensive enquiries have been made. Thousands of people have been spoken to, and several hundred statements have been taken as part of the investigation into Lindsay’s death.

Former Huddersfield officer Det Supt Prime added: “It may be that someone has harboured a suspicion for all these years.

“With the passage of time, someone who was unable to come forward and speak to us 17 years ago might be in a position to do so now. I would strongly urge them to get in touch.”

Anyone with any information which could help the enquiry should contact police on             0845 6060606       or Crimestoppers, anonymously, on             0800 555111      .