I have just finished Sandra Brown’s Where There is Evil, a book which chronicles one woman’s unselfish and downright courageous quest to find the remains of a child, Moira Anderson, who disappeared from a small town in Scotland.
The crime took place in February 1957 when the author was only eight years old. She was not related to Moira; in fact, Moira was 12 years old at the time of her disappearance. So what prompted Sandra to first reopen what was essentially a cold case during the ’90s, write a book it, and start a foundation to help victims of childhood sexual abuse?
It was a conversation with her estranged father at her grandmother’s funeral–a near confession–which sent Sandra to the authorities. Her father, Alex Gartshore, a convicted sex offender, had served an 18-month prison sentence for the rape of the family’s 13-year-old babysitter during the 1950s. Although Sandra didn’t know about this prison sentence until she was an adult, she witnessed her father abusing several of her friends, including a two-year-old baby girl.
What came to light during this re-investigation was that the original one was “botched,” perhaps because Sandra’s father was part of a larger pedophile ring that included several police officers and higher-ups in the community. Even more damning was a 15-page letter written by Gartshore’s acquaintance while on his death-bed many decades later. In this letter he states that Moira was drugged then assaulted by three men who then hid her body in the bucket seat in a bus that Gartshore drove. She apparently died from the cold.
Despite all the evidence that has come to light during the 90’s, Moira Anderson’s disappeance continues to be one of Scotland’s longest, most intriguing mysteries. What is most perplexing, however, is the authorities’ refusal to make this 15-page death-bed confession public, or to pursue criminal proceedings. It’s too late for the latter now, as Gartshore and his accomplice are now dead.
Since Where There is Evil was published, new evidence has surfaced which suggests that Moira’s body was secretly buried in a cemetry not far from where she disappeared. Her body is belived to be resting under the coffin of a man who died some three weeks after Moira disappeared.
Preliminary tests done to the grave shows that there’s indeed a body beneath the coffin, and last we heard is that the coffin could not be removed without a court order. To date we don’t know if the court order was issued, so we don’t know whose remains lie in the grave beneath the coffin.
It’s a remarkable story, and one that required a great deal of strength and courage on the author’s part to tell. Amazingly, however, is that after all these years, evidence is is still being supressed effectively preventing the case from moving forward, and for the remaining family of the dead girl to get some closure.