Filmed youths suspected of boy's murder

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The Independent Online
BOUQUETS of flowers last night marked the spot on the railway embankment near where James Bulger was battered to death before being dumped on the tracks and struck by a train.

As a huge hunt continued for the killers of the two-year-old, abducted within seconds of wandering away from his motherin a Bootle shopping precinct, detectives warned parents to be on guard.

'For goodness sake keep tight hold of your children,' said Detective Superintendent Albert Kirby, leading the investigation. 'Poor James only went missing from his mother for a matter of seconds and he had gone, disappeared . . . Until we know what's happened and who is responsible we cannot guarantee their safety.'

Detectives are working on the theory that the killers are the youths seen on Friday leading the boy away from the Merseyside precinct, where they were captured on a security camera.

One was about 12 years old, chubby faced, with short dark hair and was wearing dark clothing and no coat; the other, aged about 13, who was seen leading James by the hand, was taller and slimmer and had a fawn or beige anorak and dark trousers.

The youths were seen with James later that afternoon at an underground reservoir and, a few minutes afterwards, on the railway embankment where his body was discovered 48 hours later - three miles from the shopping precinct.

The blue hood to the boy's anorak was found in a tree, about 500 yards towards the reservoir from where the body was discovered. Police said the hood should provide important clues.

Det Supt Kirby said the murder was 'horrific' but declined to give details of James's injuries. He was keeping an open mind on whether a weapon was used but said there was no evidence of a sexual attack, although that did not rule out a sexual motive for the abduction.

It is believed James died from head injuries before being hit by a train.

Police said James's parents Denise, 25, and Ralph, 26, were 'devastated'. Yesterday afternoon, two cousins of James placed flowers on the embankment.

Rewards totalling at least pounds 30,000 were offered yesterday for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the killers.

Parents on guard, page 2

Leading article, page 14

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