On February 12, 1993, Jon Venables and Robert Thompson ended the life of 2-year-old James Patrick Bulger. The two culprits were only 10 years old when they committed the infamous act, so even though they were locked away, their identities were hidden due to their minor status. Venables and Thompson aren't the first kids to commit horrifying acts, but they were England's youngest in 250 years. The British courts decided their actions were worthy of an adult trial.
What James went through shook the British public to its absolute core. As a result, Venables and Thompson became the targets of some malicious sentiments and required new identities for their protection. The boys were released in 2001, and Thompson has reportedly not committed any further offenses.
Venables, however, has been in and out of incarceration since his initial release, and authorities reportedly seized a cache of graphic child imagery from his computer. James's family has been outraged that the repeat offender is still able to hide behind anonymity and is striving to have the order lifted so that the public can identify Venables. In 2018, Venables infuriated the public even more with his insistence that the taxpayers of England pay for plastic surgery to allow him to hide his true identity upon his next release.
In 2018, actress Tina Malone, who played Mimi Maguire on the hit UK series Shameless, allegedly tweeted a picture of Jon Venables as an adult. Following the social media spotlight, Venables became concerned for his safety. Malone - a friend of Denise (Bulger) Fergus, the victim's mother - publicly called Venables out as a re-offender and maintained that he should be "wiped from the earth."
Venables believes if people were to discover his identity, he would be targeted for the actions he committed as a 10-year-old. He reportedly is demanding the government give him money for plastic surgery, as he believes it is necessary for his survival. Venables was again given a new identity, and he had to transfer to a different facility after the exposure on social media. Prison sources refer to the infamous inmate as "a dead man walking."
Malone is now facing legal action after breaching the life-long anonymity law put in place back in 1993 to protect Venables and Thompson. Malone also maintains that she "didn't have a clue" that revealing his identity would have legal repercussions.
James Bulger's mother brought him along to go shopping at the Strand Shopping Center in Bootle, Merseyside, on February 12, 1993. She momentarily stepped into a butcher shop, but it wasn't long before she realized James was no longer beside her.
The 2-year-old boy had been led away by Venables and Thompson, who had been waiting to see a child they could easily take. They had tried to take another male toddler earlier in the day, but the boy's mother stopped them in time.
They walked with James for around 2.5 miles, eventually ending their journey at an empty train station. During their walk, it is believed about 38 people came into contact with the three boys. Only a few actually tried to intervene, but Venables and Thompson simply told them James was their little brother, or that he was lost and they were trying to help by taking him to a police station.
The Home Office pathologist assigned to James's case, Dr. Alan Williams, determined the 2-year-old was brutally beaten. Williams identified 42 distinct injuries on his body. Williams found 22 bruises, various splits and cuts on his face and head, and 20 more wounds all over James's body. Part of James's skull was shattered, and he had suffered extensive brain injuries.
The toddler had been hit with bricks, kicked, and his head had been struck with a 22-pound iron bar. None of the injuries could be pinpointed as the fatal blow. There was also inconclusive evidence of sexual misconduct. James survived for a short period of time after the attack took place, but Williams believes that period was likely mere minutes.
Venables and Thompson then took James to a nearby railroad. They laid the body across the tracks. It is believed James had already passed when he was placed there. Authorities later suggested Venables and Thompson had either attempted to stage the scene to look like an accident or had assumed the train would destroy any evidence leading back to them.
Denise (Bulger) Fergus had immediately notified the authorities of her son's disappearance, and over 100 officers executed an in-depth search of Bootle and the area surrounding the shopping center. However, it wasn't until two days later, on February 14, that James's remains were accidentally discovered by four young teens. One of the boys who found James described the scene as "terrible."