The grisly murders of three children in the mid 1960s shocked the world. Brutally assaulted and strangled, the bodies were found in the isolated woods a few miles from their homes. What could be more monstrous than merciless attacks on innocent youngsters?
A few years earlier in 1964, another girl had survived her assault and attempted murder in Cannock Chase. Fortunately, a cyclist found her after she was left for dead.
Cannock Chase is a small area of 66 kilometers (26 square miles) in rural central England. It is home to a large variety of rare birds, animals, and unusual plants. The Cannock Chase Forest is one of the most well known locations of a fictitious creature, the Gruffalo, from a children’s story book. The Gruffalo is described as half grizzly bear and half buffalo.
Imaginary beasts may roam England’s woods. But, a real monster, the child-killer, frightens people the most.
Claims of paranormal sightings thrive in Cannock Chase. They include black-eyed ghost children, UFOs, werewolves, and even Big Foot. Investigators claim that this area is one of the most haunted places in the United Kingdom, and, perhaps the world.
Margaret Reynolds, 6, vanished on her way to school in 1965. Several thousand volunteers searched for her but found nothing. A few months after Margaret went missing, Diana Tift, 5, disappeared while taking a short walk to her grandmother’s house.
Margaret and Diana were found together in death in a ditch at Mansty Gully in the Chase in January 1966.
The body of the third murdered girl, Christine Darby, was discovered three days after she got into an unknown man’s car on August 19, 1967. A soldier came across the ghastly scene during the town’s organized search. Christine’s corpse was hidden under scrub brush and branches in Cannock Chase.
Witnesses report that the young girls were each lured into a car by a man saying their mothers sent him. The onlookers at the time said they didn’t realize the man was a stranger. They described the vehicle as grey, four-door Austin, an English car.
The manhunt for the killer or killers was one of the largest in British history. Each of the 25,000 similar vehicles was studied. Over 150 detectives visited 39,000 homes and interviewed 70,000 people.
The break in the case came as another child managed to escape from being dragged into a car. A woman saw the child running away and remembered the car’s license plate. Police tracked the car to Raymond Morris.
He was arrested and convicted of the murder of one of the girls, seven-year-old Christine Ann Darby. He served 45 years of his life sentence. The teenager who survived her assault screamed in the courtroom, “He’s the one!”
He died in 2014 at age 84. Not many mourned his death.
Morris was also the chief suspect in the killings of Diana and Margaret. Not enough evidence connected him to the terrible crimes. He was never charged with those murders.
Some locals believe that the black eyed child is Christine’s ghost.
The apparition first appeared right after the murders. But it wasn’t until 30 years later that the supposed ghost of the murdered child came back to haunt Cannock Chase
In 2013, a woman reported:
“Around 2 months ago my daughter and I were walking through Birches Valley (an area well known for it’s ghostly sightings) when we heard the screams of a young child. I couldn’t tell if it was a boy or a girl, but they definitely seemed in distress and sounded very close to us, so we instantly started running towards the noise.
“We couldn’t find the child anywhere and so stopped to catch our breath, that’s when I turned around and saw a girl standing behind me, no more than 10 years old, with her hands over her eyes, like she was waiting for a birthday cake.
“I asked if she was okay, and if she had been the one screaming. She put her arms down by her side and opened her eyes. I saw they were completely black, no iris, no white, nothing.”
Ghost experts say black-eyed children are the most dangerous demons. Are they pure evil? Will they harm living beings?
Cannock Chase looks sinister and mysterious. Trees stand so close together that sunlight has a tough time getting through. What better place to terrify visitors than a gloomy forest where night seems to go on forever?
If you’re scared of the dark, please tread very very carefully. A demon may be watching.