‘When Missing Turns to Murder’ is a British true crime series on Netflix that follows various real-life cases where a missing person is found out to be a victim of murder. Each episode of the show focuses on a specific person, and the story of Jamie Levis is told in the fifth episode of season 2. His disappearance was a cause of huge concern, and the person responsible for the same worked meticulously to cover up his tracks. If you are curious to learn more about the case, we have you covered.
How Did Jamie Levis Die?
The first sign of something being amiss came on May 5, 1997, when eight-year-old Jamie Levis was not at home. Assuming that he must have been visiting friends, the family was initially not alarmed and only asked around for his whereabouts. However, by the end of the day, the search had become frantic as no one was sure just where the young boy was. Jamie was soon reported missing, and different posters went up for people to report if they spotted him.
Not long after, one of the neighbors of the family, Darren Vickers, came up to the family and told them that he felt like he might have been the last person to have seen Jamie as he had the boy on his bus. The wording of his statement made the authorities suspicious, but Jamie’s family was happy to learn about any piece of news and welcomed Vickers with open arms. It was not long before the local bus driver moved into the family’s home and became the unofficial spokesperson of the whole search campaign by leading the search.
Over the next couple of years, numerous sightings of Jamie were reported to the authorities. Vickers also followed up and would often exclaim his excitement about probably finding the young boy. However, it was not until a couple of years later, after his disappearance, that conclusive evidence was found that proved that he had passed away. Through their own investigation and following up on their suspicions, the police discovered Jamie’s remains in Reddish Vale in England.
Who Killed Jamie Levis?
Despite his apparent earnestness in trying to find Jamie, the police were highly suspicious of Darren Vickers. The local bus driver had integrated himself into the family to the point that he was trusted more by Jamie’s parents, Karen Spooner and John Levis Sr. In fact, the police revealed that whenever a call was made to them regarding the case to check something out, Vickers would be present there before they could ask their questions, making them suspect he was listening to the calls.
Hence, the authorities started to investigate Vickers but could not directly ask him questions regarding Jamie’s disappearance, given the role he was portraying. Additionally, while he had stated that the young boy had been on his bus before his disappearance after buying a ticket, the CCTV footage revealed that the latter had been accompanied by Vickers when he got on the bus. Moreover, the bus riders that day claimed that Vickers had given Jamie free reign on the vehicle, with most assuming that he was his son. This painted a picture quite contrary to what Vickers had stated.
As such, the authorities decided to arrest him on the basis of previous motor fines. The task itself was not easy, but after it was done, the police could investigate the local bus driver without worrying that he might be a step ahead of them. Upon checking up on some of his witnesses, Vickers’s alibi fell through, and he became a prime suspect in the case. Moreover, it is believed that Vickers would take John Levis Jr, Jamie’s older brother, to various places to take advantage of the fact that the two brothers looked quite alike. It is believed that many of the calls made in regard to Jamie’s sightings might have been people seeing John instead.
Not long after, the police followed up on a report against Vickers where he had apparently tried to lure kids into a wooded area of Reddish Vale so that they could help him look for Jamie. Hence the police decided to investigate the site and found Jamie’s remains and his clothes. This revelation was brutal on the young boy’s family, especially John Levis Jr, whom Vickers had been paying much attention to following the passing of Jamie.
Where is Darren Vickers Now?
Initially, Vickers claimed that he was innocent and tried to blame others. He then proclaimed that Jamie had died accidentally while on his bus, and Vickers had been terrified of what might happen. However, the fact that Jamie’s clothes had a golf ball in them pointed out that the boy had probably been alive when he arrived in the area where his remains were found. Ultimately, he confessed to abducting Jamie, sexually abusing him, and then killing him before dismembering the body. Due to his actions, Jamie’ complete remains have not yet been discovered.
Vickers was given a minimum sentence of 25 years for his crimes in April 1999. In February 2023, a three-person panel reassessed the case to see that he would be allowed to leave prison after serving 25 years, but it was decided that he would not be released, nor would he be moved to an open jail. The decision was surely a relief for Karen, Jamie’s mother, who had been terrified of the possibility that the man who allegedly groomed and killed her son and caused massive trauma to her family would be free once more.