Murder #30, Anthony Whitefield, Loughton
Anthony Whitefield, 47, was murdered and dismembered sometime between February 6th and 31st of March 2011. Mr. Whitefield’s severed arms were found in Roding Lake while the torso and legs were found in other locations. Whitefield’s head has not been found. Douglas Binet, 54, was arrested and found guilty of the murder. After being found guilty , Binet was asked by the court to reveal the location of Whitefield’s head and Binet refused.
I normally found out about murders through daily checking of the Metropolitan Police’s web site and the excellent Murder Map website run by Peter Stubley. I also regularly checked local newspaper websites and places like the Daily Mail, a newspaper I don’t like but have to grudgingly accept that unlike most national newspapers they cover crime well ( though I sometimes think their motives are suspect). I was unaware that a murder had occurred in Loughton at first because it was technically in the jurisdiction of Essex police and not the Met. Another reason I was unaware of it at first was because it was not classified as a murder. An arm had been found by an angler fishing in Roding Lake and then the lake had been drained by the police looking for more body parts. The other arm was eventually found. Douglas Binet, the man eventually convicted of the murder had buried other parts of the body in the rear of his house nearby. Anthony Whitefield’s head was never found.
I was drawn to the lake when I finally knew enough details of the case to make it part of my project. I took the long tube journey to Buckhurst Hill on the Central Line. I mistimed the journey and arrived much later than I had expected. I had a about half an hour of daylight left when I began. I remember it being miserably cold and overcast as I made my way around the lake crossing paths with dog walkers and people making their way home from work. The lake had been emptied during the search for body parts and when I had read this I imagined a tiny lake but Roding Lake was much bigger than I had expected. I had a hard time imagining it without water and kicked myself for having missed that. The lake had retuned to its serenity by the time of my visit. As the light disappeared my exposures became longer. I photographed from several vantage points until almost no light was left. I made my way back through the park wondering if the Whitefield’s head was buried nearby among the patches of trees that surrounded the lake.
The area was once covered in forest, part of what is now Epping Forest. The area with its tree cover and location close to London have made it notorious as a burial area for murder victims. Dick Turpin and his Highwaymen known as the Essex gang operated in the area. It was easy to see from the remnants of woods around the lake that this was a good place for hiding out and burying secrets when this area was still countryside, before the trains and the subsequent development. Murder victims had been found buried nearby as recently as 1966. I knew that Whitefield’s head lay nearby somewhere and that the area still held dark secrets.