Two brothers have vowed to carry on the fight to bring their sister’s killer to justice following the death of their father, who spent 35 years investigating the case.

Bury St Edmunds hotelier John Ward dedicated his life to seeking justice for his daughter, Julie Ward, whose remains were found in Kenya in 1988.

Working on the case to the very end, both Mr Ward and his wife, Jan, passed away aged 89, on Friday, June 7 and Thursday, May 25 respectively.

Their sons Robert and Tim Ward say they are “primed and ready to take over,” vowing to carry on the investigation into their sister’s death in honour of their late parents.

Speaking of his father’s dedication to seeking justice for Miss Ward, who was 28 when she died, Robert Ward said he was following leads “until the end”.

“His eyes started giving up, as did his hearing, but he never stopped,” he added.

“We’ve been helping him for the last six years and loved working with him.

“He was a truly extraordinary man, a relentless individual and both he and my mother will be greatly missed.”

East Anglian Daily Times: John Ward spent 35 years investigating his own daughter's murder.John Ward spent 35 years investigating his own daughter's murder. (Image: Newsquest)

Now, the brothers are taking over their sister’s case and have the publication of their late father’s second book, a documentary and a drama in the pipeline.

Robert Ward added: “I always said to dad, if we can’t win the legal challenges, let’s at least expose them and tell everyone the truth.”

READ MORE: Twenty-five years on from murder of Julie Ward in Kenya, grieving dad asks: “I know who killed her – so why won’t they convict my daughter’s murderer?”

The new projects will focus on the story of their sister’s murder, which begins in September 1988 with Julie travelling through Africa photographing wildlife.

Due to return to England in a week's time, Miss Ward had been travelling the continent for six months and was now heading for the Masai Mara reserve in Kenya.

On September 6, she left to collect camping equipment from the nearby Sand River camp – this would be the last time she was seen alive.

After being reported missing, her father flew to Kenya in search of his daughter. 

East Anglian Daily Times: Julie Ward was a wildlife photographer from Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk.Julie Ward was a wildlife photographer from Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk. (Image: Newsquest)

Hiring a plane to search the reserve from the skies, the pilot spotted Miss Ward's Suzuki Jeep next to a river and, while investigating the area on foot, Mr Ward discovered the remains of her dismembered body in the ashes of a fire on September 13.

With the local police refusing to conduct a murder inquiry, at first blaming a lion attack or lightning strike, Mr Ward began his own investigation.

It was only in October the following year, after an inquest in Nairobi, that Kenyan authorities accepted the woman had been murdered.

In January 1990, then Foreign Secretary Douglas Hurd asked Scotland Yard to assist Kenyan police with the investigation. 

East Anglian Daily Times: John Ward attended the inquest at Suffolk Coroner's Court in May 2004.John Ward attended the inquest at Suffolk Coroner's Court in May 2004. (Image: Newsquest)

All the while, Mr Ward continued to hold power to account by exploring his own theories, publishing a true crime book on the topic titled 'The Animals Are Innocent: The Search for Julie's Killers' in 1991.

In June 1992, two junior Masai Mara rangers were tried and acquitted of Miss Ward's murder, with another trial taking place seven years later.

A new Kenyan police team re-examined the case in 1997 and reserve gamekeeper Simon Ole Makallah was tried and acquitted of Miss Ward's murder in late 1999.

READ MORE: Inquest hears East Anglian adventurer Julie Ward was murdered

Two years later, Lincolnshire Police examined the case, following up on Mr Ward’s complaints about the handling of the investigation.

In a major step forward for the family, an inquest held at Suffolk Coroners' Court in May 2004 ruled that Miss Ward had been unlawfully killed.

The case took a turn in April 2019 when the prime suspect in Mr Ward's investigation died - Jonathan Moi, son of former Kenyan president Daniel arap Moi.

East Anglian Daily Times: John Ward continued investigating his daughter's murder into his 80s.John Ward continued investigating his daughter's murder into his 80s. (Image: Newsquest)

However, after passing aged 89, neither Mr Ward nor his wife lived to see their daughter's killer brought to justice.

Robert Ward added: “The world saw him as a private investigator, but to us he was a loving father. 

East Anglian Daily Times: Suffolk father John Ward in his home office.Suffolk father John Ward in his home office. (Image: Newsquest)

“We’re sad to see both of our parents go and they will be greatly missed by their daughter-in-laws Sarah and Deb and four grandchildren Ben, Sam, Amy and Ollie.”

A joint service will be held for Mr and Mrs Ward at 12pm on Friday, June 30 in the St Edmunds Chapel at West Suffolk Crematorium.