Where Are Child Murderers Robert Thompson And Jon Venables Today?

The body of two-year-old James Bulger was discovered near a set of railroad tracks in Liverpool, England on a cold February day in 1993. The toddler had gone missing two days before from the Strand shopping center, where Bulger was in the care of his mother. After momentarily becoming distracted, Bulger's mother noticed that he was nowhere to be seen. 

Closed-circuit camera footage revealed that a child fitting Bulger's description was led away from the shopping center by two young boys. Witnesses would later testify in court that they saw a crying Bulger being dragged along the two-and-a-half-mile route between the Strand and the railroad tracks where he would be eventually found.

Footage of the boy's two abductors was released to the public by police. A woman would recognize one of the suspects, 10-year-old Jon Venables. This valuable clue would lead to the arrest of Venables and his 10-year-old accomplice Robert Thompson (via Crime and Investigation). 

During their November 1993 trial, the world was equally shocked and outraged that two young boys could have the capacity to viciously murder a toddler. Venables and Thompson were tried in an adult courtroom by a jury. After a three-week trial, the jury took only five hours to render a guilty verdict for the boys. They were remanded to separate maximum security juvenile institutions under aliases, out of fear for their safety.

Both of them served their eight-year sentences and earned release from prison in 2001 after they each had turned 18. Living under new names, they would both follow different trajectories.

Thompson has fully integrated back into society

While serving his sentence, Thompson showed remarkable improvement. He excelled in his academics and began to develop an interest in textiles. Routine psychiatric examinations determined that he showed remorse for his crimes.

Thompson has been free since his release in 2001. Over 20 years later, he has remained off the radar of authorities and has continued to live under his assumed identity. The Netline reports that Thompson has fully integrated into society and has "built a healthy relationship" inside the community in which he lives.

Thompson has been revealed to be in a relationship with a man who is said to know his true identity. 

Authorities considered Thompson to be the ringleader in the murder that he and Venables committed. Retired detective Laurie Dalton recalled her feeling that Thompson was "pure evil" (via The Sun) and would try to manipulate the police during questioning. She was also bothered by the fact that Thompson would cry, but there wouldn't be any tears. This left her with the impression that he was faking remorse.

But with no further offenses, Thompson might be a great example of how a child who commits a horrific act of violence can be rehabilitated and live a productive life after being incarcerated. The same path would not apply to his partner in crime, however.

Venables is currently back in prison

Venables was released in 2001 and soon found himself running afoul of the law. In 2008, The Netline reports that Venables was arrested following a bar fight at a local pub. Instead of jail time, he was ordered to seek treatment for alcohol abuse. 

But this wouldn't be the only time Venables would have a brush with police. Not long after the bar fight, he was found to be in possession of cocaine.

Venables was still on strict probation following his 2001 release from prison. On one occasion, his probation officer made a home visit and saw that Venables was busy trying to destroy a hard drive from his computer. This led to a police investigation of the drive, which yielded dozens of images of abused children. Venables admitted that he posed online as a 35-year-old woman who was trying to sell images of her abused daughter (via The Daily Mail). After serving three years, he was released on parole.

In 2017, Venables was caught in possession of thousands of child pornography images and sentenced to a minimum of 40 months in prison. He was denied parole in 2000 and ordered to stay behind bars for at least an additional two years. 

As of this writing, Venables is still incarcerated. The Daily Mail tells us that he will be in front of another parole board in November 2023.