Brian McDermott: 1973 Belfast murder remains unsolved

10-year-old Brian McDermott disappeared from Ormeau Park in Belfast, Ireland in 1973. His mutilated and charred remains were found in a river in Belfast, Ireland in 1973. His murder remains unsolved.

About the Case

Brian McDermott
Brian McDermott. Photo credit: Worcester News

Brian McDermott, 10, was last seen at Ormeau Park in Belfast, Ireland on September 2, 1973. A week later, the River Lagan was lowered, and a sack containing mutilated and charred remains was found. The body was later identified as Brian McDermott through fingerprints salvaged from one of the boy’s fingers.

In 1976, Brian’s older brother, William, confessed to Brian’s murder after police learned of a disagreement between Brian and William prior to September 2nd. However, he later recanted, saying policed coerced a confession. Police questioned him again in 2004 but he denies killing his brother. In 2008, William allegedly told his ex-wife that he killed Brian. However, no charges were brought against him.

In 1982, Brian’s case was discussed at a meeting between Northern Ireland Secretary of State Jim Prior and the Lord Chancellor and attorney general as a possible link to the Kincora Boys’ Home child abuse scandal in 1980, and again through an inquiry a few years later. Nothing came from the inquiry.

Brian McDermott: Kincora Boys' Home
Kincora Boys’ Home, Belfast. Photo credit: BBC

Another inquiry into the abuse scandal took place in 2016. However, by 2017, allegations of a pedophile ring and possible police cover-up were dismissed.

Brian’s murder remains unsolved.

Sources: BBC, Irish News, Worcester News, Belfast Telegraph

True Crime Diva’s Thoughts

The first thing I thought of when I read about Brian’s case is that it could be linked to the Belfast disappearances of John Rodgers and Thomas Spence over a year later in the fall of 1974.

Brian was last seen near Ormeau Park, which is only about three miles from Falls Road, where John and Thomas’ bus stop was located.

I did not read one single article suggesting a connection between all three boys, which I think is absolutely astonishing. How could there not be? Three school-aged boys – 10, 11, and 13 – disappeared from roughly the same area at around the same time of year in broad daylight. Granted, Brian’s body was found and John’s and Thomas’ have not been; that doesn’t mean there isn’t a connection. It’s not too far out of the ballpark to suggest a link between the cases.

I also think it’s possible that all three boys were part of the Kincora Boys Home child abuse scandal. Perhaps, the boys were lured there for the purpose of child trafficking.

When I was researching this, I came across a blog post from a man who grew up in Belfast. He wrote about Brian on his blog. He went to school with Brian, and just one week before Brian disappeared, this man had a scary experience:

As I meandered home from a day at Nettlefield Primary School, kicking a stone the whole way back to our house. It was a thing I did practically every day. The challenge was to see if I could kick the object the whole way home without losing it under a car or down a manhole. As I was engrossed in my stone-kicking task a car stopped alongside me and the window was wound down. A man leaned across the seat and asked me; “D’ya know where Gotha Street is son?”

I replied, “it’s just up there” I pointed along London Road.

“Could you get in and show me where it is?” he asked. This request scared me.

“C’mon, get in and show me” he said as he opened the passenger door.

I really didn’t want to get into this stranger’s car, but I feared saying the word “no” to adults. This came from my father, who would completely go off in a rage if I ever said “no” to him or my mother. Unwillingly I climbed into the stranger’s car, ignoring the voice in my head screaming at me “DON’T GET IN THAT CAR!”

The stranger drove up London Road and as we approached Gotha Street I said “It’s just here on the right”. The man ignored me and drove in silence past Gotha Street. By now I was petrified. Why was he driving on? Why was he saying nothing? I formed and executed a very quick plan. When he reached the end of London Road, I opened the car door and dived out tumbling onto the safety of the street. The stranger in the car sped away.

I wonder if this is what happened to Brian, even John and Thomas.

I do not think the killer is Brian’s brother, William. Police, as we know, have many ways of getting a confession out of someone, regardless of their innocence or guilt. I also think his ex-wife likely lied about the confession. They divorced in 2003, so I have to wonder why she waited FIVE years to go to the police. She claimed she was afraid of him as the reason.

I’m convinced that Brian was kidnapped and murdered by a pedophile, possibly one from the boys home, or perhaps he was taken there. It took me forever to locate the address of the boys’ home, but I finally found it. It’s only THREE miles from Ormeau Park, and FIVE miles from where John and Thomas vanished. In addition, Gotha Street, where the stranger asked directions to from the boy mentioned above, is only a little over a mile from the Kincora Boys’ Home and near Ormeau Park.

Brian McDermott: Belfast locations
Falls Road: John & Thomas’s bus stop; Ormeau Park: where Brian McDermott was last seen; 236 Upper Newtownards Road: the old Kincora Boys’ Home
Brian McDermott: Kincora Boys' home today
Former Kincora Boys’ Home as it appears today
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Author: truecrimediva

True crime blogger