The 40-year-mystery of a missing farmer’s wife was finally solved this year after four decades of lies.

Husband David Venables will spend the rest of his life behind bars after a chance find by workmen at his old home.

But who was Brenda Venables and how was the mystery solved?

Brenda, then 23, met David Venables at a young farmers' event in 1955. Brenda came from the tiny Worcestershire village of Rushock in the Wyre Forest District, not too far from Kempsey, where David lived.

They married on June 1, 1960, spending their honeymoon in Jersey before moving to newly constructed Quaking House Farm in February 1961. The property had stunning views of the Malvern Hills in a rural area south of Kempsey.

East Lothian Courier: (West Mercia Police/family handout)(West Mercia Police/family handout) (Image: (West Mercia Police/family handout))

Devoted wife Brenda helped deliver flowers from the farm's nursery, but most of her time was spent taking care of David. She was well-liked and praised by all the farm workers, and she was regarded as “very prim and proper”.

Reserved Brenda chose not to express the loneliness she was feeling in her loveless marriage. Mrs Venables' medical history showed she was suffering from depression due to her husband's multiple affairs and not being able to conceive children. She reportedly informed her psychiatrist that she and her husband had not had sex since 1969 and they were not sharing a bed.

Two months before her disappearance, Brenda considered her situation so hopeless that she began to have “suicidal tendencies” and contacted the Samaritans. But a few weeks later, she informed her doctors she was feeling better. David resented her attendance at the medical clinic and prevented her from going to hospital.

By the start of May 1982, Brenda had been ill with flu and fell down the stairs hurting her leg, which was then bandaged from the ankle to the knee. She had bad ankles, could not walk far, and suffered from arthritis.

Brenda was reported missing by her husband David on May 4, 1982.

When Brenda's husband, David, reported her missing in 1982, a large-scale search of their farm and the local area found no information. But the missing person inquiry remained open amid rumours that she took her own life.

Brenda’s parents, Harold and Winifred, and her two sisters, Jane and Rita, were devastated by her disappearance. Brenda was her parents’ main carer, so the impact on them was both emotional and practical. Brenda’s name was added to the gravestones of her parents at St Michael’s church in Rushock. It recorded her year of death as 1982.

East Lothian Courier: (West Mercia Police/family handout)(West Mercia Police/family handout) (Image: (West Mercia Police/family handout))

Tragically, it would take almost four decades before her family would know the truth.

In July 2019, workers at Quaking House Farm in Kempsey, Worcester, found fragments of bones and hair while clearing out a blocked septic tank. Forensic examination discovered the bones belonged to Brenda. All that was left of her was her skull and a few pieces of hair.

The discovery irrefutably linked her husband to the murder.

After David’s trial, where he was found guilty, Brenda’s family said “If Brenda had never met her murderer, we can imagine her cheerful and kind nature would have led her to much joy and happiness as an adult.

“She would have continued her many friendships, from Young Farmers and beyond. Her parents would have been spared the unending wait for her return and been comforted by her continued care of them.

“We can imagine how much the lives of her two sisters would have been enhanced by Brenda’s presence and her quiet enjoyment of their company.

“We continue to miss Brenda and we will never forget her. Her characteristics live on in our family. After 40 long years, we pray that you can at last rest in peace, Brenda.”

This article is part of True Crime Newsquest.  A new series featuring insight from local journalists who covered the stories first-hand. Subscribe to the True Crime Newsquest YouTube channel to stay up to date with the new documentaries presented by Jody Doherty-Cove and Mark Williams-Thomas.