Who killed Emma Barton? Meet the prime suspects in the Emmerdale murder hunt

Emma Barton’s death is now being investigated as a suspected murder. So who did push the killer off the viaduct? Here are the prime suspects.

Murderous and unhinged Emma Barton finally got her comeuppance when she dramatically jumped to her death. Or did she? The police are now almost certain that she was pushed to her death, and so do forensics.

[Read more: A Christmas reunion for Robron?]

But who would want to kill Emma? If you’re familiar with her character at all you’ll know that there are a fair few suspects. Responsible for killing her husband and even her own son, Emma has made many enemies in the Yorkshire Dales village.

Here are the prime suspects.

Ross Barton: The aggrieved son

ross barton

Ross now knows that his mum Emma is responsible for both the death of his dad James and his brother Finn. Could he have taken out his anger and grief by pushing his own mother to her death? Last night’s episode certainly strongly hints in this direction. We saw him burning various items belonging to his late mother, including her handbag, immediately after the police told him they were now treating her death as a murder.

Actor Mike Parr explains that his character Ross is "more than capable of murder. not only because he had so much loathing for his mother but also because he has had a dodgy past".

"Don’t forget he also arranged a pact with Andy Sugden when they planned to swap roles and kill each other’s brothers. Ross shot Robert as part of that agreement so he kept his side of the bargain but it turned out Andy didn’t go ahead with his side of it," he explains.

[Quiz: How well do you know Emmerdale's Dingle family?]

Was he destroying evidence that would point the finger at him, or covering up for someone else? Or was this act simply part of his grieving process?

Pete Barton: The grieving son

pete barton

After a heated yet cryptic row between brothers Ross and Pete, it was implied that Pete knows something he’s not letting on. He’s also been more than a little cagey since the police let him know it was now a murder investigation. While he’s off the hook for being Moira’s baby’s dad, there’s still plenty for him to be angry about regarding his recently departed mother. Could he have sought revenge on his mum in retaliation for her killing both his dad and brother?

Actor Anthony Quinlan says that while Pete may be grieving, he certainly has his motives for having wanted his mum dead.

"Pete to date has been the happy-go-lucky brother but things have gone wrong," Anthony says.

"His relationships in the village have broken down after his affair with Priya and he’s been dealing with a lot of stress. Finn was his adored younger brother so he would never forgive Emma for killing him and his dad. Plus, she had taken his baby so yes he’s got more than enough motives. Also, don’t forget that Pete did leave Ross for dead. So he does have it in him.”

Adam Barton: The half-brother

adam barton

The 'other' brother, Adam, is of course the lovechild of Moira Dingle and the late James Barton. Cast your mind back to when Moira gave birth outside the blazing barn. It was her son Adam who discovered her and her new-born, both fighting for their lives. He then chased Emma, who was brandishing a loaded shotgun, into the woods. Emma almost killed his mum, and we all know she killed his dad, so Adam has plenty to be angry about according to actor Adam Thomas.

"Adam is so protective of his mother he will have taken that really badly. Plus, he feels aggrieved that because Emma killed his dad he never got the time to get to know him. Adam was taking it slowly regarding building bridges with his dad but Emma denied him that.” 

Cain Dingle: The defensive bad boy

cain dingle

If resident Emmerdale bad boy Cain has one soft spot, it’s for Moira Dingle. The on-and-off couple haven’t had it easy, but it’s pretty obvious he’s always been in love with her, even if his actions haven’t always reflected this. He’s now found out he’s a new dad to Moira’s son, and Emma almost left both mother and daughter to burn to their deaths.

"Cain wants to protect Moira. Emma putting Moira in danger could probably be enough motive for Cain to finish her off," says actor Jeff Hordley.

When Emma stole the baby, he would’ve seen red and thought: there’s a problem here and I need to go and sort this. Although Cain didn’t realise he was the dad, a small part of him probably knew he was. Cain just wanted to protect Moira and find the baby."

He might have told his mum Faith he has an alibi – but if there’s one thing we’ve learned about Cain Dingle over the years – it's that he’s shifty.

Moira Dingle: Emma's nemesis

moira dingle

Emma killed the father of her son, almost killed her and her baby and then topped it off by stealing her baby from the hospital. Moira has many, many reasons to have wanted Emma gone for good. True, she’s supposedly been in the hospital the whole time, but who’s to say she wasn’t able to sneak out at some point?

Actress Natalie J. Robb certainly agrees that her character Moira could easily have committed the crime.

“Moira definitely had motive. She was put in extreme danger in the barn by Emma and then Emma took her baby.  Moira would have seen red at this. We even saw her grab her gun," she hints.

Faith Dingle: The protective grandmother

faith dingle

She may not be a prime suspect in the eyes of the local Dales police, but we don't think her motives should be overlooked. Faith definitely hasn’t always been the best mum, but Faith has been trying to make amends with son Cain recently, and she was the last one to spend time with Moira before Moira and Emma’s dramatic brawl in the flaming barn.

Now with a new grandson, Faith could easily have wanted to make sure Emma would never come in the way of her former daughter-in-law or grandson ever again. True, she questioned Cain on his whereabouts when Emma died, but maybe she was covering her own tracks.

Gabby Thomas: Emma's tormentor

gabby thomas

Gabby has a solid beef with Emma. She discovered that Emma killed James and that she had tormented her poor late father Ashley Thomas – who we all know was battling dementia at the time. She always saw first-hand Emma manipulating and essentially bullying her stepmum Laurel Thomas, who she gets on well with. Gabby tormented Emma with tapes of Ashley before Emma went on her violent rampage, which included physically threatening young Gabby. Wanting to protect her family and seek revenge for her late dad, we can see why Gabby could be driven to push Emma to her death.

Actress Rosie Bentham agrees that we shouldn't be fooled by Gabby's young age, as she's been through enough with Emma to have taken fatal action.

"Gabby knew things were getting out of control with Emma and she rang her mum to get help. Could Gabby have gone one step too far? She’s acting very guilty and perhaps has something to confess."

Laurel Thomas: The liar?

laurel thomas

Laurel hasn't been a potential suspect until now. We all assumed that she was away visiting her sister when Emma fell to her death. But this week we will learn that she was lying about her whereabouts. So just where was Laurel? She certainly has plenty of reasons to have wanted Emma gone for good, says actress Charlotte Bellamy.

"Every fibre of Laurel hates what Emma did to Ashley. And then, of course, there’s what Emma did to Arthur. Finding out she mentally tortured a 10-year-old boy who was totally vulnerable was Laurel’s worst nightmare," Charlotte explains.

Who do you think pushed Emma? Share your thoughts below

Emmerdale continues weeknights on ITV at 7pm.

Snatch – coming to BT TV

Please note: Comments must be on topic and relevant to the article or subject. Comments aren't added to the site automatically between 2am and 6am. Please read our House Rules and Community Guidelines