History Mysteries

The Disappearance of Lord Lucan

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The seventh Earl of Lucan, or Lord Lucan was born, Richard John Bingham. He spent some time in the military, in his adult years and also had a career as a banker. However, he soon gave up all promising pursuits and became a gambler. He was known as "Lucky" in his gambling circles, but his luck eventually ran out. He is best known for being accused of the murder of his children’s nanny and for his disappearance, following the murder.

Lord Lucan married his wife, Veronica Duncan, in November of 1963. The couple went on to have three children together, Lady Frances, George and Camilla. The couple ran into some problems in their marriage during the early 70's. Lady Lucan developed postpartum depression after the birth of the couple’s children. It became a problem in the marriage, after a time. Lord Lucan’s gambling also presented a big problem for them. Not only was his gambling putting the family in debt, but Lady Lucan strongly disapproved of it and Lord Lucan refused to stop.

All of the couple’s problems came to a head at the end of 1972 and they split up. Lord Lucan went to live in an apartment near the family home. Lady Lucan stayed in the home at 46 Lower Belgrave Street with the children. A struggle for custody of the children soon followed the split. In March of 1973, Lord Lucan obtained temporary custody of the children and took them to live with him. However, the children’s mother was able to have custody of the children restored to her in June of the same year.

Lord Lucan was very unhappy with the loss of his children and reportedly spent a lot of time spying on Lady Lucan in an attempt to obtain information that would make her appear incompetent as a parent. These circumstances and the accompanying tension between the two parents, serve as a quite plausible motive for the crimes that many people believe Lord Lucan committed later.

On November 7, 1974, Lady Lucan appeared at the Plumber’s Arms bar at 9:45 p.m.. She had obviously been attacked and she was yelling for help. She said that someone had killed the nanny and that the person was still in her home. She accused her husband of being her attacker and the murderer. An ambulance was called for her and the police went to investigate.

When the police arrived at the home, they realized that Lady Lucan was correct. There was blood on the breakfast room floor and walls. Against the door, leading into the kitchen, there was a sack that contained the dead body of Sandra Rivett, the nanny. She had been bludgeoned to death. A piece of lead pipe that was bloodstained, bent and wrapped in tape, was found in a hallway. It is obviously assumed to have been the murder weapon.

The children had been left in the house while their mother ran for help. At around 10:30, Lord Lucan called his mother and requested that she go to the house to retrieve the children, which she did. The police later went to his apartment and found that all of his important documents, checks, keys and his car were still there. However, the man himself was nowhere to be found.

Lord Lucan arrived on the doorstep of his friends Ian and Susan Maxwell-Scott’s home at 11:30 p.m. Ian was out, but Susan allowed her friend to come in. She later said that he appeared disheveled and that his clothes looked as if they had been stained, but a hasty attempt to clean them had been made. Lord Lucan made a call to his mother to make sure she had the children and then penned two letters to his friend, Bill Shand Kydd while he was in the Maxwell-Scott home. He then left and was never seen or heard from again.

Lord Lucan told Sharon and also Bill (via letters) that he had been walking by the house and had seen Lady Lucan struggling with an invader through the basement window. He then let himself into the house and fought her attacker. He said that he slipped in blood on the floor during the struggle and then he had tried to help his wife, who then fled the house. At some point, he became aware that the nanny was dead and he feared that he had implicated himself in the crime, so he left.

Lady Lucan claimed that she had struggled with her husband, when she discovered him in the home, after she had gone in search of the nanny. The struggle had ceased and the pair had gone upstairs when she decided to run away. It was then that she went to the bar, leaving her children behind in the home.

Because Lord Lucan has never been found, it is nearly impossible to say for sure whether he committed the crimes or not. However, he was found guilty at a formal inquest and is wanted for suspicion of murder. His disappearance is not much of a mystery. We do know that he left of his own volition and we also know the reason for his leaving, nonetheless, the mystery of where he went and how he has avoided getting caught remains. Whether or not he is a murderer, is believed to be a mystery by some. To others, that mystery has already been solved sufficiently.


Stratman, Linda, Lord Lucan Mystery, retrieved 12/8/09, lordvulcan.com/vulcan_story.htm

Dancaster, Lucy & Holland, Andrew, Greatest Mysteries of the Unexplained, pages 8-9, Acturus Publishing Limited, 2006

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