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Lesley noticed missing
Call from Neilson
Lesley's body found
Neilson's noon chart
Neilson captured


Clues in the Cosmos by Garry Heaton

The 'Black Panther' & the abduction of Lesley Whittle

Lesley Whittle, a 17-year old A-level student and heiress, was discovered missing by her mother at 7am on 14th January, 1975. After making enquiries with her son Ronald, Dorothy Whittle returned to the house to discover a ransom demand for £50,000 printed on a coil of dymo tape.

The 'Black Panther', Donald Neilson, planned the abduction years earlier after reading a newspaper report about the death of Lesley's hither, George Whittle, in 1970. It was reported that he had left £106,000 to his wife and £85,000 to Lesley, as a settlement in trust.

Lesley Whittle: chart for moment of discovery of Lesley missing

In the horoscope for the moment she was discovered missing, Lesley's inheritance is shown by the Sun, ruler of the 8th house of legacies, in the 1st house. Fortuna conjunct the Sun adds further testimony to her potential wealth, as does Jupiter in the 2nd house, in trine to the asc-ruler Saturn. Neilson's interest in Lesley's wealth can be seen by the 7th-ruler, Moon, positioned in the 2nd.

Lesley Whittle's endangered condition is shown by Saturn, in detriment and retrograde in the 7th house of open enemies (Neilson), and in mutual reception and quincunx aspect with the 7th house ruler. The quincunx is a very informative aspect in matters of health arid death and its significance here is emphasised by the Sun, Lesley's 8th-house ruler, situated in the 1st house. Her life is clearly in danger. Neilson initially arranged for the £50,000 ransom to be delivered by Lesley's brother, Ronald, who was to receive directions from a telephone box in Kidderminster. Unfortunately, indiscreet news reports and bad timing ruined the plan.

At 11:45pm on 16th January the Whittles received a taped telephone message from Lesley. In a tired and frightened voice she directed Ronald to a telephone box in Kidsgrove where the ransom was to be collected. Mercury and Venus had reached l2°50 and 13°25 Aquarius, and were forming a conjunction with the missing chart's Moon on the cusp of the 2nd house of money.

Lesley Whittle: chart for Nielson's call

The moment itself was captured by the ascendant (for the Whittles' home in Highley) at l3°42 Libra, forming a perfect trine with the Moon-Venus conjunction on the 2nd cusp of the 'missing' chart. This ascendant falls in the 9th house of the latter, showing the long-distance nature of the call. The Moon at 15°58 Pisces was also perfecting a conjunction with Jupiter, bringing Neilson in contact with Leslie's Money. Saturn's midheaven position at the time of the call caused unforeseen delays, however, and its separating retrograde aspect with Jupiter ensured that the bounty eluded him.

Ronald Whittle was directed, via a series of messages on dymo tape left in telephone booths, to the eventual scene of Lesley's death - Bathpool Park in Kidsgrove which is 45 miles north of Highley. Sadly he arrived late and failed to find the meeting point in the dark. Neilson's plans were also disrupted by the arrival of a couple in the car-park where he intended to direct Ronald by flashes of torchlight.

Down a manhole in Bathpool Park, 62 ft. underground, Lesley Whittle was kept clamped in a wire noose on an iron platform designed for workmen, next to the drainage system of a disused underground canal tunnel. Neilson had installed a mattress and two sleeping bags along with food and cooking equipment. He also had an escape route which emerged a mile from this underground cell.

Does the horoscope for her disappearance describe her location? The significators are: Saturn in Cancer, Taurus on the 4th cusp, Venus in Aquarius and the Moon's next applying aspect. Saturn is in mutual reception with the Moon and also in contra-parallel with Pluto, suggesting that she has been moved. Mercury, ruler of the 9th, is in the 1st and is applying to 4th-ruler Venus, which is closely trine Pluto in the 9th, evidence that she is a long way from home.

Cancer is northerly, cold and moist, and associated with rivers, canals, sinks, wells, ditches and waterways. So for so good. Taurus rules cultivated land, lawns, trees and plain, even ground - not a bad description of a park.

Venus in Aquarius adds a communal, collective element with the suggestion of open spaces. A park is cultivated land developed into a social amenity. Venus conjunct Mercury and trine Pluto describes very well the sewer and underground canal system, as well as the adjoining disused railway tunnel.

The Moon's applying contra-parallel with Pluto adds emphasis to the underground element and the secret hideaway, whilst the sextile of Venus and Neptune repeats the Cancerian water theme and shows the confusing labyrinth of underground tunnels.

After several frustrating media pleas, the police were given the decisive clue by the headmaster of Maryhill Primary School in Kidsgrove. Two of his pupils had discovered several weeks earlier a piece of dymo tape stuck to a torch. Printed on it was the message 'drop suitcase into hole'. On 17th March police began searching Bathpool Park and when an officer entered the sewer at 415pm he found Lesley's body hanging in the underground cell.

Lesley Whittle: body discovered

The horoscope for the moment of the discovery has late Leo rising, indicating that the hiding place was found when it was all too late. The Sun, 8th house ruler in the missing chart, here rules the ascendant and aspects the 'missing' 1st-ruler, Saturn, by trine. The Moon, transiting the 'missing' 1st house, also separates from the opposition of Saturn, while Venus, ruler of the 'end of the matter' 4th in the missing chart, aspects Saturn by square at the time that her body was found.

Retrograde Saturn in Cancer, in difficult aspect and mutual reception with the Moon, is the significator for Neilson in the discovery chart. Outside his criminal activities he was a carpenter (house-builder?) but had insufficient money to make his business work. He was married and had one daughter (family responsibilities) though no-one in his Asian neighbourhood knew much about him as he was openly racist and confined his family to the house in clannish protection from what he perceived as a threatening environment.

The discovery chart describes many other features of Neilson's life and character. Before entering the army he was a successful ballroom dancer as suggested by Saturn, his ruler, in his 5th house and the Sun, ruler of his 7th (partners), in Pisces in his 1st. His brief career in the army turned his life around. He saw plenty of action abroad - shown by his MC-ruler, Mars, square retrograde Uranus, in his 9th. This aspect also describes his defiance of authority which damaged his chances of promotion. His experience of active service fuelled a passion for the military way of life which dominated his character when he returned home. He remained a fitness fanatic and was obsessed with the survival tactics he had learned in the army. The Sun in his 1st house squaring Neptune in his 10th describes how heroic fantasies had taken over to compensate for his failed career.

Donald Neilson noon chart

Neilson was born on 1st August, 1936 with a Capricorn Moon and the Sun in Leo closely squaring Uranus. This nicely accords with the symbolism of the discovery chart, which has the Sun in his 1st house and his ruler Saturn in Cancer, in mutual reception with the Moon in Capricorn.

At around 11pm on 11th December, 1975, after a long and exhausting police search, the 'Black Panther' was caught during a routine police enquiry by two officers near the Four-Ways public house in Mansfield Woodhouse (53N11/1W12). Neilson pulled a double-barrel shotgun but let his concentration slip briefly, allowing one of the officers to seize the gun. Mars (guns) was at 24°24 Gemini at the time, transitting Neilson's 12th house of self-undoing in the Missing chart and in an exact opposition with Mars, ruler of his 4th house (end of the matter). The Moon's final aspect in this chart is also a sextile of Mars. Saturn, Neilson in the discovery chart, had moved to 2°18 Leo, squaring Uranus, whilst Pluto had retrograded to 11°23 Libra, squaring Saturn. This technique of confirming significators in an event chart by transits at the time of future developments is one I recommend to all predictive astrologers. What has already happened should point to what is about to happen.

Donald Neilson arrested
Chart for Neilson's arrest

© Garry Heaton. Uploaded September 2006.
Previously published in Traditional Astrologer magazine: 6, Autumn 1994.

Mundane Astrology

Charts in this article use Prophyry cusps, Garry's preferred house system.