On the 21st of July, 2020, Bernadette Walker (17) was reported missing from her home in Peterborough. Her parents made the report and claimed that Bernadette had not been seen for three days, since she 'ran out of their car'. Ms Walker said that her daughter texted her nearly two days later, at 1am on July 20, to say that she would be returning 'soon' to the family's five bedroom home.
Bernadette's case was quickly investigated as a murder, and her parents were considered the main suspects. Bernadette's aunt said that she and other relatives are in 'total disbelief', but are still hoping she could come back alive. Meanwhile Bernadette's maternal grandmother Pat Dickinson, 60, said she was still holding out hope the 'fun and bubbly' teen would be found alive.
Bernadette was described as a 'normal teenager' who was very good at drawing, and had even learnt to knit from her grandmother. She was also one of 9 siblings, with the youngest having just been born when she Bernadette went missing / was murdered.
The police quickly began investigating Bernadette's parents (Sarah Walker, 37, and Scott Walker, 50.) It is alleged that between the 18th of July and the 12th of September they perverted the course of justice by sending messages from Bernadette phone, giving the impression she was alive. It is also claimed that on the 21st of July, they provided false information to police relating to their daughter’s disappearance.
Her family had also claimed that she may have taken spare clothes with her, but then allegedly found the items under the schoolgirl's bed.
A trial has been fixed for the 21st of June at Cambridge Crown Court, with a time estimate of two to three weeks. Scott has entered a plea of not guilty to murder and 2 counts of perverting the course of justice, and Sarah is yet to enter a plea to perverting the course of justice.
On the 10th September 2021, Bernadette's step father Scott Walker was jailed for her murder. He was handed down a lift sentence, having to serve at least 32 years, while mother Sarah Walker was jailed for 6 years on counts of perverting the course of justice. However, Bernadette's body has still not been found.
The prosecution's case laid out how on the 16th July Bernadette told her mother that Scott had been sexually abusing her for a number of years - however she was not believed. The trial heard Bernadette had written in a diary: "Told my mum about my dad and the abuse.
"She called me a liar and threatened to kill me if I told the police... What kind of parent wouldn't believe their daughter?"
The court heard Sarah Walker sent messages from Bernadette's phone to give the impression she was still alive after she disappeared. She and Scott Walker "hacked" into Bernadette's social media accounts and posted messages purporting to be from her.
The judge said Sarah Walker "was the guiding mind behind the detail of [the] plan" to cover up Bernadette's death.
After telling her mother about the alleged abuse, Bernadette was sent to stay with Scott Walker's parents. When he collected Bernadette, his phone was switched off between 11:23 and 12:54 BST, the court heard. Prosecutors said it was during these 91 minutes that he killed his stepdaughter. When his phone reconnected to the network, the first call he made was to Sarah Walker, which lasted nine minutes. The pair "concocted" a story during this time to cover up her death, the prosecution said.