12 February 1993 CCTV footage from the New Strand Shopping Centre in Bootle. Thompson and Venables were shown casually observing children and selecting a target. The boys were absent from school, which was a common occurrence for them.
Thompson and Venables were stealing a variety of items, including candy, a troll doll, batteries, and a blue-painted cane. Some of these items were later discovered at the murder scene. One of the boys intended to kidnap a young child. He lures them to a busy road near the shopping center and pushes them into traffic.
James Bulger disappeared within the same afternoon. His mother Denise accompanied him to the New Strand Shopping Centre. Denise, momentarily distracted inside the butcher shop of A.R. Tym at approximately 3:40 p.m., became aware that her son had vanished. James loitered near the shop’s open door while she placed her order. Thompson and Venables spotted him at that time. They approached him and began a conversation with him. Then they removed him from the area. This incident was captured by a CCTV camera at 15:42.
Bulger was led by the boys on a winding 2.5-mile (4.0-kilometer) journey from Liverpool to Leeds. They abandoned him at Liverpool Canal with facial injuries. The boys made an insensitive joke about pushing Bulger into the canal. Throughout their journey through Liverpool, 38 people observed them.
He has a protuberant forehead. He was crying, but most passersby ignored him because they assumed he was a child. Despite the fact that two people stopped the older boys. However, they explained that Bulger was their long-lost sibling. He was being escorted to the local police station. The boys took Bulger to a pet store at one point, but were then asked to leave. The boys eventually arrived in the town of Walton. However, they hesitated to approach the police station across the street on Walton Lane. They led Bulger up a steep embankment to a railroad track near the defunct Walton & Anfield train station. It is close to Anfield Cemetery, where they began their torment.
The trial established that one of the boys threw blue Humbrol into Bulger’s left eye at this location. They kicked and stomped on him while hurling stones and bricks at him. The batteries were placed in Bulger’s mouth. Although police suspected that batteries may have been inserted into his anus, he was found to be battery-free. A 22-pound (10.0 kg) iron bar finally fell on him, causing ten skull fractures. The pathologist in the case, Dr. Alan Williams, determined that Bulger sustained a total of 42 injuries. It was impossible to determine which blow proved fatal.
As Bulger’s shoes, stockings, trousers, and underpants had been removed, the police suspected a sexual component to the crime. The pathologist’s report presented in court stated that Bulger’s foreskin had been forcibly retracted. Thompson and Venables were hesitant to provide detectives and child psychiatrist Dr. Eileen Vizard with details about the attack. In addition, they denied categorically inserting batteries into Bulger’s anus.
Dr. Susan Bailey served as Venables’ psychiatrist until his 21st birthday. She stated, “Despite revisiting the issue multiple times, Jon never mentions a sexual component to the offense.”
The boys positioned Bulger on the railroad tracks. They weighed his head down with debris in an attempt to make it appear as though he was killed by a passing train. Following the departure of the murderers, Bulger’s body was cut in half by a train. His dismembered remains were discovered on February 14th, two days later. The forensic pathologist testified that he died prior to the train collision.
The police quickly obtained low-definition video footage of Bulger’s kidnapping from the New Strand Shopping Centre, which featured two unidentified boys. It became clear what precipitated Bulger’s death. Newspaper tabloids criticized those who witnessed the abduction but did not intervene. It referred to them as the “Liverpool 38.” The railroad embankment where Bulger’s body was discovered was covered in floral tributes.
The crime sparked outrage in Liverpool and throughout the country. The family of one boy, initially detained for questioning but subsequently released. They were forced to leave the city. A breakthrough occurred when a woman recognized Venables after seeing brief images of the two boys on national television. She knew he played truant with Thompson that day. She contacted the police, resulting in the boys’ arrest.