Where is Robert Black now? The killer from Channel 5's The Child Snatcher: Manhunt

The serial murderer was caught by a retired postman

A collage of Robert Black and one of his victims, Genette Tate
(Image credit: PA / Alamy)

Channel 5 viewers want to know what happened to Robert Black, the serial killer who is the subject of a new documentary. 

The crimes of Robert Black, who was convicted of murdering and abducting four children in the 1980s, are set to feature in a new true crime documentary airing on Channel 5 called The Child Snatcher: Manhunt. The two-parter retells one of the UK's largest police investigations, as detectives from multiple forces attempted to connect the dots between a string of murders that happened all over the UK.

And it's not the only true crime documentary that has got viewers wanting to know the whereabouts of the culprits in recent days. ITV documentary The Search for Instagram's Worst Con Artist has many wanting to know where Belle Gibson is now, while Netflix's Murdaugh Murders had others asking where is Alex Murdaugh now? Meanwhile, popular BBC drama The Sixth Commandment is based on a true story, and has viewers wanting to know where Ben Field is now.

Where is Robert Black now?

Robert Black died of heart disease in Maghaberry high-security prison, Northern Ireland, in 2016, aged 68. He was cremated and his ashes were scattered at sea after prison authorities in Northern Ireland revealed no one wanted his remains.

Robert Black suffered a stroke in 1996, just two years into his sentence for the murders of Susan Maxwell, Caroline Hogg and Sarah Harper, and since then his health had been in decline. He was a heavy smoker with high cholesterol when he died.

A collage of Robert Black's victims

Robert Black's victims, from left, Susan Maxwell, Sarah Harper and Jennifer Cardy

(Image credit: Alamy)

What did Robert Black do?

Robert Black was convicted of the murders of four children from across the UK in the 1980s, and he was suspected of murdering many more children who had gone missing around the same time.

In 1994, Black was found guilty of murdering 11-year-old Susan Maxwell, from the Scottish Borders, five-year-old Caroline Hogg, from Edinburgh, and Sarah Harper, 10, from Morley, as well as a failed abduction in Nottingham in 1988.

In 1982, Susan Maxwell was abducted on her way back from a tennis match and her body was discovered two weeks later roughly 250 miles away from her home town. The following year, five-year-old Caroline Hogg was last seen riding a carousel in Portobello, near Edinburgh, and her remains were discovered not far from those of Susan Maxwell.

In 1986, the body of ten-year-old Sarah Harper was found in the River Trent, three weeks after she’d been snatched from the streets of Morley, Leeds.

Then, in 2011, Robert Black was also found guilty of the 1981 murder of nine-year-old Jennifer Cardy, from Ballinderry, Northern Ireland.

Black was a delivery driver, and after he was caught it was revealed he would travel the country in his van, which enabled him to abduct the children and then leave them miles from their homes, going undetected for many years.

He is thought to have been responsible for many other murders over the years, and police have previously said they were planning to charge Robert Black with the abduction and murder of Genette Tate in 1978 at the time of his death.

How was Robert Black caught?

Robert Black was caught after retired postman David Herkes saw him abduct his six-year-old neighbour. Herkes alerted the police, and Robert Black was caught with the young girl trapped in the back of his van.

Herkes had been mowing his lawn in the Scottish Highlands village of Stow when he noticed a scruffy man standing next to a parked van, and moments later his six-year-old neighbour was bundled into the vehicle, which then sped off. 

After Black was arrested, the young girl's father, who was a policeman, noticed the similarity between Robert Black and an artist's sketch of a suspect in the murder of Caroline Hogg, which at the time was a cold case.

This raised suspicions about Black's past, and detectives began to look into his background and his movements, leading them to realise he was connected to a number of other cases.

In other true crime news, we've looked at where Juana Barraza is now, and how the Steeltown Murders culprit was caught, as well as what happened to Deborah Wood, who disappeared in 1996.

Ellie Hutchings
Family News Editor

Ellie is GoodtoKnow’s Family News Editor and covers all the latest trends in the parenting world - from relationship advice and baby names to wellbeing and self-care ideas for busy mums. Ellie is also an NCTJ-qualified journalist and has a distinction in MA Magazine Journalism from Nottingham Trent University and a first-class degree in Journalism from Cardiff University. Previously, Ellie has worked with BBC Good Food, The Big Issue, and the Nottingham Post, as well as freelancing as an arts and entertainment writer alongside her studies. When she’s not got her nose in a book, you’ll probably find Ellie jogging around her local park, indulging in an insta-worthy restaurant, or watching Netflix’s newest true crime documentary.