THE MYSTERY over the 1976 deaths of Griff and Patti Thomas has deepened with yet another twist in the intriguing tale.

The Herald has received intriguing new information which counters the long-held belief that John Cooper was involved in the siblings’ death.

Rumour, gossip and convenience placed Cooper in the Llangolman area around December of 1976 doing work for a fencing contractor.

We spoke with a source who has an intimate knowledge of the area and community. Vitally, they also know about the fencing contractors and workers active in the Llangolman area at the time. They dismissed the suggestion John Cooper was in the area as ‘nonsense’.

They said contractors from outside the area would’ve ‘stuck out like a sore thumb’. The presence of an outsider, they continued, would’ve been remembered by the remote, close-knit, Welsh-speaking community. In 1976, they added, anyone coming to the area from further south than Haverfordwest would’ve been seen as ‘down-below-ers’.

Our source told us that supply runs by ‘outsiders’ to local merchants for things like nails or timber for fencing posts did not occur. It would’ve been improbable, they added, that ‘boys from Milford’ would come to the area with every item to complete a job.

As for the possibility that Cooper might’ve been ‘hobbling’, our source told us that Cooper’s accent alone would’ve been considered ‘exotic’. So incongruous that if Cooper went to a pub for a pint and a game of darts or visited the local shop, he would’ve been remembered at the time of the original inquiry.

Large jobs would’ve meant working alongside local workers. We were told none of them recalled working with John Cooper. Even when directly and repeatedly asked over the years since Cooper’s conviction for the Scoveston Manor and Coast Path killings, no local workers placed him in the area.

Poor weather during November and December meant that large jobs would not have been planned for those months. In context, this was just after the long and hot summer of 1976. 

Any emergency fencing work would’ve been done by locals as, in those days, ‘boys from Milford’ would’ve taken too long to get there.

Another source claimed that John Cooper’s connection stems from a local, unrelated family with the same surname and vivid imaginations.

Whatever you choose to believe, no eyewitness testimony placing John Cooper in the Llangolman area in the weeks or months leading up to the deaths has been seen by anyone with even a passing interest in the bizarre deaths of the Thomas siblings. 

We will, of course, keep an open mind and if anyone has information that definitively proves Cooper was there and when, we’d be very eager to see it.

Whilst we might be able to cross off Cooper’s name for the deaths of Griff and Patti Thomas. Indeed, those we spoke to this week were clear that we could. However, that leaves a terrifying alternative. Someone local, someone who knew Griff and Patti, was capable of a double murder who was never caught or even questioned by the Police.

The Herald has heard enough information that, we believe, whittles down the list of possible suspects to just two individuals. Both lived in the area at the time and knew the victims well enough, it seems, to know of Griff’s daily walk to Charing Cross Stores some 20 minutes away.

Our sources sketch out an alternative scenario. Someone known by both Thomas siblings entered Ffynnon Samson, knowing Patti would be on her own. They planned to steal the money they believed was kept in the house bureau by the ‘tight’ brother and sister.

When Griff returned, nothing would’ve seemed amiss until he entered the parlour. There he found his younger sister critically injured. A confrontation followed, during which the thief struck Griff fracturing his skull and Griff’s blood ended up on the doorframe.

With Griff incapacitated, the settle was pulled down on top of him, and a fire started to cover the killer’s tracks. The murderer then fled the property through the back door. They took enough money to ‘sort Christmas out’ but not so much to raise others’ suspicions with them. 

They left the Thomas siblings to die. Patti died first from her injuries, her body showed signs of smoke inhalation from the burning settle, but not enough to end her life.

Griff died second, the post-mortem discovered that he died primarily from burns and the contemporaneous description of the crime scene supports that scenario. 

It is at least as likely as the one advanced at the subsequent inquest.

For the account given to the inquest to work, belief needs to be suspended. A profoundly religious elderly man, known to be a timid personality, and who had arthritis of the spine, slew his sister by picking up heavy furniture and striking her with it. Repeatedly. 

Somehow, he fractured his own skull in the process. He then covered up a bloody thumbprint from an unknown third party by replacing the cover on a sewing machine, staggered to the kitchen and set fire to himself whether by accident or design.

Or a third party committed the offence and got away with it in a scenario similar to the one presented to us.

If that wasn’t enough, there are other details which raise questions.

Specifically Griff’s coat, which was found hung up with the cheese he’d brought from the shop still in his pocket, had Griff come home to an argument, he’d surely still be wearing his coat and had the killer not arrived until later, Griff and Patti would’ve eaten the cheese discovered in Griff’s coat pocket as they had planned to have it with dinner.

The Sewing Machine. Who put the cover back on it? Whose finger-print was found, alongside Griff’s blood, under the replaced cover?

Why, according to locals, were the footprints in the snow around the farmhouse not properly investigated until after police had thoroughly inspected the property and the footprints had started melting?

We hesitate to describe the Police investigation as ‘botched’. No matter how unlikely the inquest verdict, we cannot say it’s ‘unsafe’. We can say the case looks as though a theory was formed and the evidence made to fit its frame.

An unlikely link to John Cooper has prevented a full view of the facts. Dyfed-Powys Police’s refusal to re-investigate ‘based on speculation’ prevents any final resolution being reached anytime soon.

However, once lockdown is over, we’ll be back on the case going through the records to see how close we can get to the answers.