More than 80 bodies, almost all men, have been pulled from the canals and rivers of Manchester in the last six years, leading some to believe that a serial killer may be stalking the city.
A number of grieving families, academics and authors now believe a serial killer, nicknamed ‘The Pusher’, could be creeping along the city’s waterways but police insist there is no evidence to back this up, the Mirror reports.
Tonight, a Channel 4 TV documentary will reopen the debate with devastated relatives saying they don’t feel they are being listened to and want the deaths off their loved-ones re-examined by police.
The rumours of a serial killer began when the cases were first publicly released following a freedom of information request which found there had been 61 bodies discovered in the cities canals between February 2008 and January 2015.
Professor Craig Jackson, head of psychology at Birmingham City University, examined the figures and stated the deaths had ‘all the hallmarks of foul play’ and that the number of bodies being found was ‘alarming’.
It is unlikely that such a high number of cases are the result of just accidents or suicides as canals are not popular suicide spots, especially for men.
However, the professor later withdrew his comments in a statement released by Greater Manchester Police after being called for a meeting with Detective Chief Superintendent Russ Jackson.
So far 80 bodies have been found in the city’s waterways, perhaps most notably Chris Brahney, 22, from Timperley, Greater Manchester, who was found dead in the Manchester Ship Canal ten days after going missing from a Stone Roses concert in Heaton Park in June 2012.
He had become separated from his friends following the gig, sparking a massive manhunt across the region.
At an inquest into Chris’s death, deputy coroner Joanne Kearsley recorded an open verdict and admitted she simply couldn’t say how he had ended up in the water.
Also, David Plunkett, 21, was found in the Manchester Ship Canal after disappearing from the Music Event in Trafford Park in 2004. Police were alerted in the early hours the following morning after his parents reported a chilling phone conversation, during which his horrified mother heard him howling and screaming.
David Plunkett’s parents dismiss police claims that their son’s death was an accident.
His father Michael said:
Something had terrified him. He was on the phone but our son could not speak to us. And that’s not because he was drunk.
Greater Manchester Police have repeatedly denied the existence of a ‘Manchester pusher’ and say there’s no evidence to support the claims.
However, senior officer Detective Chief Inspector Pete Marsh has been instructed to re-investigate all the deaths, looking for possible links between them or evidence of foul play.
DCI Marsh said a number of deaths were due to alcohol while others were cases of suicide.
Some are older men, some have committed suicide and left their belongings on the side. Down near Canal Street it is mainly young men and a lot of them are drunk late into the evening. Those individuals may be putting themselves more at risk. There is nothing that links any of these deaths.
The relatives of people who have died have feelings of loss, anger and they want answers and some of those we can’t give them.
Some people have said we are in denial – no we’re not in denial, we’ve no evidence to suggest that those people have died in suspicious circumstances.
The documentary Manchester’s Serial Killer? airs on Channel 4 tonight at 11pm.
More of a concept than a journalist, Tom Percival was forged in the bowels of Salford University from which he emerged grasping a Masters in journalism.
Since then his rise has been described by himself as ‘meteoric’ rising to the esteemed rank of Social Editor at UNILAD as well as working at the BBC, Manchester Evening News, and ITV.
He credits his success to three core techniques, name repetition, personality mirroring, and never breaking off a handshake.