The cold case of Bernard Oliver (1950 – Jan 1967)

Bernard Oliver

Bernard Oliver

The Bernard Oliver case is known as the Tattingstone Suitcase Murder. Suffolk Police is reaching out again to the public for help. No one was ever charged for this murder.

Bernard went missing January 6, 1967. He had not come home from an evening out with friends. His dad reported him missing the next day. Bernard’s remains were found 10 days later.

Bernard Oliver was a 17-year old teenager from the northern parts of London. He worked in a warehouse. Some claim that he had the mental age of an eleven year old. If true, he might have been more easy to manipulate or dominate than others. I wonder if his killer(s) knew this.

Bernard Oliver, the two suitcasesHis professionally dismembered body was found stuffed in two suitcases. His body was cut up in eight pieces. His remains were found near Ipswich.

Dismemberment isn’t as easy as it sounds. It requires medical knowledge, the right instruments, and a very steady hand. All body parts were expertly dissected except the left knee, see here. There is speculation that it was the last part. Maybe nerves finally started to catch up with whoever wielded the sharp instrument. I am curious to know what instrument was used to dismember Bernard.

In 1967, police believed that Bernard was murdered about 48 hours before discovery. That covers two days out of 10 days. What happened to Bernard in the other eight days? If we could search the suitcases with the M-Vac we could pick up on pollen, dust, grass, dirt, etc. All that can help trace where those suitcases had been. Bernard’s shoes would also be a good source of information.

Bernard Oliver, call for helpThe autopsy showed evidence of sexual assault, see here. I wonder how many DNA profiles we find if we analyze the biological evidence with modern technology. Bernard was strangled to death before his dismemberment. I have not found whether that was manual strangulation or strangulation by object.

If we could review this case with modern technology such as phenotyping, mitochondrial DNA, touch DNA (M-Vac) and Y-STR we could find out a lot more about the person(s) who did this to this teenager.

Talking about evidence, what do we have?

  1. One of the two suitcases used to contain Oliver’s remains bore the initials “P.V. A.” If properly preserved those suitcases should yield lots of information if we apply modern technology. The handles, locks, hinges, and the bottom are key places to investigate.
  2. The laundry mark “QL 42” was found on a hand towel inside one of the two suitcases. Where was the towel made? Was it a retail towel, a hotel towel, any labels?
  3. A matchbox found in Bernard’s jacket pocket was from a brand of matches marketed in Israel. Did Bernard smoke? If so, what was his favorite brand? Did he use matches or a lighter? Where were those match boxes used most? Were they for sale in stores? Were they handed out in night clubs or restaurants?

I hope that more evidence is preserved especially Bernard’s clothes.

Of course, police had their eyes on several suspects. You can read about them here and here. The reason why I do not discuss them here is that:

  • I want Bernard, the victim, to be the main focus of this post
  • Nobody was ever charged
  • There does not seem to be any hard evidence tying any of the suspects to Bernard

All photography in this post was taken as screenshots from the BBC news article. Bernard’s head shot comes from the East Anglian Daily Times.

If you have any information about this case please contact the Suffolk Police online here or talk to CrimeStoppers anonymously here.

Rest in Peace, Bernard Oliver.