You never know what a person is going to be like until you meet them properly. Often times, we find ourselves repulsed by a person, or their attitude. These people we “dislike” often appear shifty, untrustworthy, maybe even a little frightful. But do we really know for sure until we meet them?
People had no idea that little Jaime had struck up a friendship with the 28-year-old bus driver who drove the route by his house. He was a regular public servant looking out for a kid on his own, but when Jamie went missing he went above and beyond to help his family find him.
What a Kid
Eight-year-old Jaime of Openshaw, Manchester, England, was described by many as an “energetic scrap of a lad.” He was inquisitive, outgoing, and downright precocious: all of which were great qualities for a little boy. And at only eight, he was already fiercely independent. He would even ride the bus himself.
The 219 Bus
The bus in question was the 219 bus that made its way from the city centre to Ashton-under-Lyne near Openshaw. The bus’s driver, Darren Vickers, noticing the boy’s age and his lack of a guardian, took it upon himself to look after Jaime when he was on the bus. As such, he spent the day on the bus in the company of the driver. Not a bad place to be all things considered…
It was during one of the bank holidays and Jaime once again had found his way onto the 219 bus. His parents saw him get on and he spent the ride with Mr. Vickers and even got a drink from him when he told the driver he was thirsty. Mr. Vickers saw him get off the bus but he never caught the return one. Jaime had vanished.
Helping Them Look
Mr. Vickers couldn’t help but blame himself. Jaime was a child and though no one had asked explicitly, he still felt that he had been responsible for him. When Jaime’s parent’s contacted the police and the entire neighborhood began an exhaustive search for the missing eight-year-old, Mr. Vickers was right there to lend a hand…
During the course of the exhaustive search, Vickers soon made friends with Jamie’s family. He even gave interviews to reporters and used a police scanner he had procured to help make sure Jaime’s family were the first on the scene. Jaime’s mother Karen was extremely grateful to the bus driver and for the unbelievable amount of care he was showing for a boy who was essentially a stranger.
The police however, were not entirely convinced of Mr. Vicker’s true intentions when it came to finding the boy. Not only had his overzealous tactics put detectives a bit behind, but his behavior was bordering on obsessive. As the months passed, he began to ignore his family and his job and eventually was fired for missing too many days…
At the same time as Vickers’ life was falling apart, his involvement in the disappearance of Jaime Lavis helped to ingratiate him into the Lavis family. Jaime’s mother was glad to have him around. He was helpful in every way and even campaigned almost constantly for more public and police support in the search.
At one point, after many months of searching, Vickers found himself leading two groups of young people to Reddish Vale, a place near Stockport in Greater Manchester. He directed the teens to a group of very dense woods, where he said he had received word from an undisclosed source that something may be in there, a clue to where Jaime was…
Five Months Later
It was October and it had been five months since little Jaime Lavis had disappeared. A group of officers, who had been led there by Vickers some weeks earlier, discovered a child’s green wax jacket and tracksuit bottoms. Inside those pants, they found a lower jawbone that looked as though it belonged to a child as well.
After scouring the area, the police found more bones. Most of them were from the torso of a child aged between seven and nine years old. The entire skull was never discovered, but the teeth in the lower jawbone were confirmed to be Jaime’s via dental records. DNA testing on the bones also revealed some very strong evidence that the teeth came from a child of Jaime’s parents…
The police were reasonably sure they had found Jaime Lavis’ remains, but some questions lingered. First, how had Darren Vickers known where the boy’s remains were? For that matter, who was this reliable source that had led him to that random spot deep in the woods? Lastly, the most suspicious question of all: why had Vickers attached himself so closely to the case?
The detectives had a theory, they believed that Vickers’ friendship with Jaime was more than just an adult taking responsibility for a lonely child. They think that Vickers’ intentions with Jaime were much more sinister and that he befriended him, let him sit in the cab of the bus, bought him drinks, all in an effort to groom or seduce the naive and curious boy…
They were also reasonably sure that Vickers was, as they had previously believed, the last person to see Jaime alive. But that he had taken him away in his car after his shift and not allowed him to just get off the bus at the end of the route. Vickers was arrested on May 24,1997 on suspicion of abduction.
Vickers had lost his job and any support from his family long before that day and as such, he could not afford bail, even if it hadn’t been remanded. While he was in jail awaiting his day in court, he told a fellow prisoner the truth about what he’d done and how Jaime had died. He even wrote a 15-page handwritten statement about it which he gave to police…
The confession read, among other things: “I’m not sure where it went wrong…Jamie was starting to mess with the ticket machine. I told him, ‘Don’t, you’ll jam it’. I raised my left hand and hit him on the side of the head. I looked round and braked hard. Jamie, when I hit him, fell back, hitting his head on the luggage rack….” The rest as they say, is history…
A Life Lost
Darren Vickers had accidentally killed Jaime Lavis on that wet day during spring break. When he discovered what he’d done, he drove off with the boy, dumped his body in the wood, and tried to forget. Unfortunately for him, the memory of his sin was too much to bear and the only way he could quiet it was to be to help with the search…
Vickers added that as soon as he left the bus depot that day he drove home, then took the body into an abandoned house next door to decide what to do with it. He drove his family to his parents’ home for the night so that he could figure out what to do. He decided to take the body to the Reddish Vale and bury it.
He Was Gone
“His eyes were closed,” Vickers went on. “I started to panic bad. Christ, I’ve killed him…I did not mean for anything like this to happen.” But was his original intention to seduce the boy as police had originally guessed? Had Vickers been a pedofile all along?
The police still maintained that if Vickers had gotten away with his plan, Jaime would have been just as bad off as he was, only he may have suffered more. Unfortunately, there’s no way to prove intent. All we have is the bus driver’s word that it was an accident. Only two people know all the details of what happened on that dreary evening, and they will never tell.
Life for a Life
Darren Vickers was eventually sentenced to life in prison for the murder and abduction of Jaime Lavis. When it was all said and done, Jamie’s grandmother, Barbara Lavis, spoke his final She said, “He was streetwise but he was a lovely little boy.” It’s a good way to remember him.