Woman discovers her son was among 270 Lockerbie bombing victims almost 25 years later

Carol King-Eckersley tells of her 'double tragedy' after deciding to track down her only child, put up for adoption 45 years ago

Click to follow
The Independent Online

A woman whose son was killed in the Lockerbie bombing has only just found out about his death, almost 25 years later.

Carol King-Eckersley, 65, gave up her only child for adoption in 1967 but said she had always dreamed of one day being reunited with him.

With only the name Kenneth Bissett and a date of birth to go on, Ms King-Eckersley decided earlier this year to try and track him down after a grief counsellor suggested she do so in the wake of her husband’s death.

Looking online, she found someone matching his profile in a remembrance page for Syracuse University, New York.

It listed the 35 students who were among the 270 people killed in the 1988 bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Dumfries and Galloway.

Telling her story as part of a BBC documentary marking the 25th anniversary of the disaster, Ms King-Eckersley, from Oregon in the US, said it “became a kind of double tragedy. I found him and I lost him on the same day.”

Kenneth had been among a group of students from Syracuse who spent a term studying in London, and were on the Boeing 747 heading home four days before Christmas.

He knew he was adopted but had never met his birth mother, a then-unmarried 19-year-old who gave him up for adoption to preserve the reputation of her high school principal father.

She said: “I gave up Ken for adoption at birth and even though I was told his name I never looked for him because I had given my word.

“There was always the hope and dream that some day there would come a knock on the door and I would open it and there would be this tall, handsome gentleman saying ‘Hi, I guess you're my mum’.”

A photograph of Ms King-Eckersley's son


Kenneth's adoptive parents have both now died, but they left a detailed tribute and account of his childhood in Syracuse’s archives, where his mother saw a baby picture for the first time.

She said: “I had never seen him, except wrapped up in a yellow blanket on the day we left hospital.”

“In a way, I'm going backwards...because the getting to know him makes it sharper, makes the regret deeper. He was an incredible artist. I saw comic strips that he drew when he was 11 years old.”

She described the feeling of never having felt like a proper parent as a result of giving up her son. She said: “I have carried that stigma around. It's just a real regret that I'll never, in this life, see him.”

1988: The wreckage of the New-York-bound Pan Am Boeing 747


Though campaigners continue to lobby for a new inquiry into who committed the Lockerbie bombing, Libyan Abdelbaset al-Megrahi was convicted of the terrorist act in January 2001 and given a life sentence. He died from cancer in Tripoli last year after a Scottish jail released him on compassionate grounds.

BBC One Scotland’s Living with Lockerbie will be screened on Monday at 10.35pm.