It's a move 42 years in the making

By Diana Pearl
Updated February 03, 2016 06:00 PM
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Credit: Douglas Miller/Keystone/Getty

Consider this 42-year-old case closed.

But not quite solved.

Lord Lucan – or Richard John Bingham – a British aristocrat and military officer disappeared shortly after November 7, 1974 – just after his children’s nanny, Sandra Rivett, was found dead, her body battered, in the basement of his family’s London home.

And after a 42-year disappearance, he finally has a death certificate.

His wife, Veronica Duncan, was the one who found the nanny and subsequently ran into a neighborhood pub, exclaiming “He’s in the house! He’s murdered the nanny!”

Just after the murder, a car Lord Lucan had borrowed was found, empty and covered in blood, outside of London.

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The case fascinated people far beyond the U.K.’s borders. British police conducted an extensive search for him. People claimed to have spotted him in the United States, in Colombia, in Australia, in India, in Paraguay and even New Zealand. In 1975, he was convicted of the nanny’s murder, but justice was never truly served, as he was never found.

In 1999, 25 years after he vanished, Lord Lucan was declared dead by a British judge, but still, there were loose ends. There was no official death certificate, which meant that Lord Lucan’s son, George Charles Bingham, could not inherit the family title.

Part of the reason for the delay comes in the form of Rivett’s son, Neil Berriman, who fought against the issue of a death certificate because of the small chance that Lord Lucan was still alive.

That battle ended today, when an official death certificate was finally issued, allowing Bingham to finally inherit his father’s title.

To this day, no one knows exactly why Lord Lucan killed Rivett. Some believe he thought she was Duncan, who he was estranged from at the time.

While the issue of the death certificate will certainly bring some closure to Lord Lucan family, even they admit that the entire thing is still a mystery.

My own personal view – and it was one I took, I think, as an 8-year-old boy – is that he s unfortunately been dead since that time, Bingham, and the newly named Lord Lucan, said. In the circumstances, I think it s quite possible that he saw his life at an end regardless of guilt or otherwise of being dragged through the courts and through the media would have destroyed his personal life, his career and the chances of getting custody of his children back. And that may well have pushed the man to end his own life. But I have no idea.