Readers like you keep news free for everyone.

More than 5,000 readers have already pitched in to keep free access to The Journal.

For the price of one cup of coffee each week you can help keep paywalls away.

Support us today
Not now
Dublin: 21°C Thursday 18 August 2022

Police appeal for answers - 40 years after the mysterious death of a boy found under a bridge

On a Sunday in 1976, Peter Watts left his home in Wales to do homework with a friend. He was found dead in London hours later.

CO988-15PeterWatts Peter Watts Source: Metropolitan Police

POLICE IN LONDON have launched an appeal for help in solving the death of Welsh teenager Peter Watts, 40 years after he was found under a bridge in mysterious circumstances.

Watts, 15, was last seen at his home in Colwyn Bay at 4pm on the afternoon of Sunday 18 January 1976.

After eating lunch, his family were preparing to go for a drive when Peter told them he wanted to do his homework instead.

He then left them a note to say he had gone to help a friend with their schoolwork, and would be back soon.

However, he is said to have bought a £10 train ticket at Holyhead, and told staff at the station his destination was Chester, in Cheshire, on the English side of the border.

He got on the 5.15, but failed to get off at Chester, instead travelling all the way to London.

Just hours later, at 1.30 am, a passing taxi driver found Peter dead under the Euston Road underpass in London, 250 miles from home.

He had a fractured skull and injuries which a later post-mortem would conclude were consistent with a fall.

However, there was nothing on his body to suggest he had been pushed from the bridge, or been involved in any sort of struggle.

There were no scuff marks or road dirt on Peter’s clothes or body, which might indicate he had been hit by a car, the Daily Post reports.

Furthermore, a medical examiner found that his body was “impeccably clean, as if it had been scrubbed.

CO988-15PeterWatts2 Peter Watts Source: Metropolitan Police

To add to the mystery even further, the watch and glasses Peter had been wearing that day were never found, and although the guard at Holyhead train station said he remembered Watts, he said he couldn’t be certain it was him.

Regular train commuters were repeatedly questioned by investigators, and not one person remembered seeing the 15-year-old that Sunday.

The possibility of suicide was considered, but Watts was described as being happy, and there was no evidence in his behaviour to support that theory.

Making a difference

A mix of advertising and supporting contributions helps keep paywalls away from valuable information like this article.

Over 5,000 readers like you have already stepped up and support us with a monthly payment or a once-off donation.

For the price of one cup of coffee each week you can make sure we can keep reliable, meaningful news open to everyone regardless of their ability to pay.

In the end, the jury at his death inquest decided on a verdict of murder by a person or persons unknown.

Now, four decades on, the Metropolitan Police have released a public appeal for help.

Detective Inspector Susan Stansfield said in a statement this week:

Despite numerous appeals, mystery still surrounds the death of Peter Watts. He came from a loving and close-knit family but tragically his parents both died without the answers they were seeking.
After 40 years, his only surviving relative – his older brother Mark, aged 57 – said this may be his last opportunity to find out what happened to his older sibling.

Both Peter’s parents died without knowing the truth about their son’s death.

After launching the appeal on Tuesday, police confirmed they had been contacted by a potential witness, whom they would be questioning.

It remains to be seen, however, if this latest twist in a 40-year mystery brings Mark Watts any closer to the truth about how his little brother Peter met his end.

Read: Two men charged over brutal murder of teen babysitter, after 31-year investigation>

Read: A former RTÉ newsreader, her ‘enchanting’ friend, and the world’s most notorious murder suspect>

About the author:

Dan MacGuill

Read next: