February 12, 1993
2-year-old James Bulger is killed by 2 boys
WARNING: the events depicted in this article are graphic in nature.
Two 10-year-olds, who had skipped school, decided to hurt a younger child. Their original intent was to find someone to push into oncoming traffic, but they ended up straying from that idea. Instead, they picked James Bulger at random when the 2-year-old’s mother was distracted temporarily. They led him by the hand out of the shopping center in which they found him (top photo).
As they took James farther and farther away, they began their torture. They picked him up and dropped him on his head on the road, giving him facial fractures and a bump on the head before continuing on their journey. Bystanders noted the trio, though many assumed James was a fussy younger brother. Those who stopped the children to ask about James’ distress were told either that he was their younger brother who had fallen, or that he was a lost boy they were taking to the police station.
Their walk ended at a railway station where the older boys amped up their beatings and torture. Modeling clay was thrown in James’ eye; he was kicked and stomped repeatedly; batteries were shoved in his mouth (police suspect the batteries were also placed in James’ anus, though the attackers denied this during trial); and a 22 lb metal bar called a fishplate was dropped on his head repeatedly. Police also suspected sexual abuse as James’ shoes, socks, pants, and underwear had been removed and his foreskin forcibly retracted.
James’ skull suffered a total of 10 fractures, and a total of 42 injuries over his entire body, so many that the pathologist in charge of his autopsy could not identify the fatal blow. The boys then left the child’s broken body on the train tracks, weighing his head down with rocks, hoping when it was struck by a train authorities would believe the child wandered off on his own and was killed by accident. A train ran over his body sometime after the boys left, bisecting it. Two days later, James’ body was discovered.
With evidence of the two leading James away captured on CCTV, as well as multiple eyewitnesses who had seen the two walking with a crying James, the killers were quickly arrested, tried, and ultimately convicted on November 24, 1993.
As the boys were minors at the time of their arrest and conviction, their records have been sealed. And once they were released, they were given new identities. A foreign magazine had claimed to have access to their new identities, but were stopped by an injunction from releasing that information to the public.
James’ parents, broken and distraught from their only child’s brutal murder, divorced. Both have since remarried and have had children with their respective new spouses.