Hidden In Plain Sight: Child Killer Darren Vickers

(Darren Vickers holding a picture of Jamie Lavis. Picture credit: Mirror)

 I had heard about this case a few years ago and stumbled across it on my list of cases to cover last week. I was surprised to see that nobody else had covered the case so far so I thought it was important to share this story in the hopes that other true crime bloggers, podcasters or youtubers would pick it up, I feel it's important that the victim in this case be remembered and for nobody to ever forget what an evil, sadistic man, Darren Vickers is. 

This is my 66th case and I want to warn you that it is going to be quite a harrowing read. I will be talking about the death of a child and the horrific manner in which the death occurred, To read about a murder is always hard but when the victim is a child it is even more difficult to take. 

Before I begin, I just want to remind you that I can be found elsewhere on social media here and if you enjoy my weekly true crime posts, please consider donating or subscribing to my ko-fi or Patreon for more exclusive personal posts, podcasts and more.

Let's begin...

Jamie Lavis had the face of an angel with a cheeky smile, he was so small, almost like a tiny little doll at just 4 feet tall. He was so small that despite being 8 years old, his mum Karen had to dress him in clothes made for 5 to 6 year olds. He was a bundle of fun and typical of a boy of his age, when he wasn't watching cartoons he was outside searching for a new adventure. 

(Jamie Lavis. Picture credit: bbc)

Jamie grew up on a notorious area known as Openshaw in Manchester, England. It was May 1997 and kids would often go out to play in the street but on this particular Bank Holiday Monday, Jamie was hanging around the street bored and looking for something else to do. Being the little adventurer as he was, he headed to the bus station, like a lot of boys his age, buses, trains, cars, they all fascinated him.

That very night on the 5th of May 1997, little Jamie Lavis didn't come home. When he didn't return at 5pm for his dinner, his parents became concerned but thought he would come through the door at any minute thinking he just got held up playing with friends. As the clock stuck 8 pm their fears began to grow stronger and his parents and family took to the streets to look for him. After a couple of hours and no sign of him, they called the police.

The next few days were anxiety ridden with his family wondering where he was, imagining the worst, the police coming to the house back and forth and his mother, Karen appealed for information via a TV appeal for any help on her son's whereabouts. 

Phone calls and tips of various alleged sightings of Jamie were passed onto the police but it all came to nothing, Jamie's family were beside themselves with worry. 

Nobody could understand how this little boy could go out to play like he always did and not return home.

The days that followed and the more time that Jamie was gone, the more and more people were imagining the worst.

But one day, Jamie's sister was approached by a man who claimed to have seen Jamie. This man was a 28 year old local bus driver who made a statement to the family and the police that he saw Jamie on his bus. He told them that the child had bought an 'All Day Rider' ticket and spent quite a while on the bus before being dropped off near his home.

This man who's name was Darren Vickers came across as such a nice man, he just wanted to help the family and felt that his information could somehow help the police with their investigation. Darren couldn't have been any nicer, he offered to help the family any way that he could and soon he was being invited over for dinner and ended up moving into the family home. 

(Darren Vickers, center, with Jamie's parents. Picture credit: Manchester Evening News)

Darren, apparently wanted to take the stress off of the family by doing all of the appeals for Jamie, he did tons of interviews on the family's behalf and had elected himself as their official spokesperson. The family seemed to think of him as an absolute Godsend and began to rely on him. Rumours also went around the local community that Karen and Darren were having an affair (which she has always denied), the police however were not convinced that Darren Vickers was the nice guy he was painting himself out to be.

There was discrepancies in his statement about seeing Jamie on the day that he went missing, he claimed that Jamie had come onto the bus with a ticket, however, CCTV footage from the bus station emerged showing Darren leaving his bus to approach the little figure who was Jamie. He was seen following Jamie around and playing with the little boy's hair before going onto the bus with him. Witnesses on the bus that day also came forward and described how Jamie was having the time of his life as Darren was letting him play with the ticket machine and sit in the drivers booth with him. 

The ''All Day Rider'' ticket that Darren had claimed that Jamie had bought was not issued to children and Jamie did not have a ticket that day. Further investigation into Darren's background also led police to his work references which were all fake contacts apart from one referee who turned out to be a convicted paedophile. 

Darren, the nice guy, suddenly became the prime suspect and Jamie's family were outraged. They believed that the police were clutching at straws and couldn't come up with anything so they were just focusing on Darren for the sake of it. When Darren was at the police station, the family were outside waiting for him, supporting him. When no further evidence turned up and the police let him go, the family held a party at their house for him.

To the police and no doubt some of the local members of the community who suspected that Darren Vickers was not all that he seemed, this was shocking and unbelievable.

Darren Vickers must have thought he was very clever having the family at his beck and call and I don't want to come across as feeling any negativity towards the family, at the end of the day they were worried sick about Jamie, their minds were all over the place and this man was a master manipulator. The net was closing in on Darren, his constant courting of the local media and TV appearances backfired on him. Two teenagers who had spotted him on TV reported to the police that he had tried to abduct them one night.

This report led to the police taking Darren back to the station where they pressed him for hours about Jamie. The police asked the two teenagers where Darren was the night he tried to abduct them and the police were directed to a wooded area. Investigators and a forensic team were then sent to this location to do a thorough search. 

During the search of the woods the police found some pieces of clothing that matched the clothes that Jamie was wearing on the day that he went missing. When they took the wet materials back to the forensic lab for further testing, a piece of human jaw bone was found entangled in the clothing. 

Unfortunately the jaw bone and the pieces of clothing had indeed been identified as belonging to Jamie Lavis. It became clear that Jamie had been abducted, murdered and dismembered. The majority of Jamie's remains were never found. 

When Darren was charged and taken to court, he denied guilt and began making a number of allegations against Jamie's family including that he and Karen had been having an affair and that she was pregnant with his child. He also tried to pin the blame on Jamie's father. Karen later said that she had a DNA test done on her child just to prove that Darren was lying and to silence the local gossips who believed that she had been having an affair with him.

Darren Vickers was sentenced to life for the murder of Jamie Lavis in April of 1999. Darren confessed that he abducted, sexually abused, murdered and dismembered the little boy.

It was shocking and sickening that this vile creature was able to pull the wool over the eyes of the family for 5 months during the search for Jamie. I can't imagine what that must feel like for the family. They had their son's murderer living in their house, sitting at their dinner table. The horrible details of what this sick individual did to Jamie is too much to bear. 

In 2014, Darren Vickers was the victim of a random hammer attack at Frankland Prison in Durham. He suffered skull fractures and spent some time in hospital but made a full recovery....unfortunately.

As I mentioned earlier, this case was a very heavy going one to cover but I wanted to share Jamie's story. It's so heartbreaking and this story is so unbelievable. I will be sharing more of my thoughts on this case on my podcast on Patreon 

As well as being my 66th true crime case that I have covered, this will also be my last post on this blog for 2020, I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for all of the support over the past 12 months and I look forward to bringing you more content in 2021. All the best for New Year and have an amazing Christmas.

RIP Jamie. 

Further Reading & Sources:

Darren Vickers Article | The Northern Echo Newspaper

The Lavis Case Article | Manchester Evening News

Article On The Case | The Guardian Newspaper

Darren Vickers Trial | The Independent Newspaper

Darren Vickers Article | Daily Mail Newspaper

Killers: Documentary

Thank you for taking the time to read my latest post. See you in the next one x


  1. To have had such a monster at their table, to share their food, and to be taken in by the family as he was... unbelievable... a true sociopath and an absolutely disgusting creature... amazing work and an incredible story!

    1. Thanks for checking out the post and for all of your amazing support this year x

  2. i dont know if anyone knows but he used too be in charge of a youth club in shaw heath.. i used too go every week! im only sayin coz its recentley flagged up again but i used too be in his mums house all the time olaying with his brothers n sisters, just took me back reading it all again now as an adukt with ,y own children

    1. Wow! thank you for commenting and checking out the post