Soham set to remember Holly and Jessica as anniversary of murders approaches

 

The parents of murdered Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman and their home town of Soham are preparing to remember the moment they discovered the schoolgirls were dead.


Friday marks the 10th anniversary of the discovery of the 10-year-olds' burnt bodies near an air base at Mildenhall in Suffolk.

The grisly discovery ended a two-week hunt to find the girls after they disappeared from a family barbecue in Soham, Cambridgeshire.

Ian Huntley, a caretaker at Soham Village College, is serving two life terms for their murder.

His girlfriend, Maxine Carr, a teaching assistant at their school, served 21 months for perverting the course of justice and is now living under a new identity.

Speaking as the anniversary approaches, a criminologist warned that the pain of the killings is likely to “last a lifetime”.

Colleen Moore, principal lecturer in criminology at Anglia Ruskin University, said: “Because of the extreme nature of the crime and because of our fascination with Huntley, it is unlikely that his crime will be forgotten in our lifetime.

“For the wider community there will be a residual sense of grief.

“Even those who did not know the girls or their families will have identified with what they were going through and will have some sense of fear that it could happen again.”

While townsfolk are determined to remember Holly and Jessica, acts of remembrance in Soham are expected to be low-profile.

On August 17 2002, residents flocked to St Andrew's church to await confirmation that the search was over.

The Rev Tim Alban Jones oversaw a special service that night but said there would be no similar service this year.

He added: “It was decided that the church would not be doing anything to mark the 10th anniversary.

“It is very much a time for the families.”

Sharon and Les Chapman, parents of Jessica Chapman, have rarely spoken publicly in recent years.

But they recently broke their silence to hail the first anniversary of the Police National Database - introduced to close gaps in information-sharing between police forces.

The database was the key recommendation from the Bichard Inquiry into failings by police during the Soham murder inquiry after Huntley had faced a series of allegations for rape and under-age sex.

The number of searches carried out by police forces using the database is expected to hit one million in time for the anniversary.

In a statement, Mr and Mrs Chapman said: “We hope [the database's] use will mean other families don't suffer the same loss and heartbreak as we did.”

Holly's brother, Oliver Wells, also recently spoke publicly for the first time about the killings.

Now aged 22, he told the Radio Times that he thought about his sister frequently.

“I wish I could see her now, see what she'd have looked like,” he said.

“We do chat about her quite regularly, which I think is a very nice thing. It's strange being three of us, when there used to be a fourth.”

Her father, Kevin Wells, told an ITV documentary that the stress felt by him and his wife Nicola following their loss almost led to the break-up of their marriage.

But he added: “She was lost in a kind of wilderness whereas I was more hard-line about my emotions.

“For the first five months after Holly died we broke down together, but after that we processed our grief at different speeds.

“It was one, almost two years before we found each other again, but grief gives you a different sense of the passage of time and it slipped by unnoticed.”

He added that the passage of time had not healed the pain but vowed to “make it out the other side”.

Mr Wells ran this year's London Marathon in memory of the girls.

He raised nearly £8,000 for the Grief Encounter Project which helped support his family and of which he is now the patron.

He completed the 26-mile course in five hours, four minutes and 58 seconds.

On his JustGiving website, he wrote that the charity had been vital in helping with “the uninvited grieving process can have on your life and your future”.

PA

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Life and Style
love + sex A new study has revealed the average size - but does that leave men outside the 'normal' range being thought of as 'abnormal'?
Arts and Entertainment
TV
Voices
The Palace of Westminster is falling down, according to John Bercow
voices..says Matthew Norman
Sport
Steve Bruce and Gus Poyet clash
football
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
News
Graham Norton said Irish broadcaster RTE’s decision to settle was ‘moronic’
TV
Arts and Entertainment
Jake and Dinos Chapman were motivated by revenge to make 'Bring me the Head of Franco Toselli! '
arts + ents Shapero Modern Gallery to show explicit Chapman Brothers film
Arts and Entertainment
Kurt Cobain performing for 'MTV Unplugged' in New York, shortly before his death
music Brett Morgen's 'Cobain: Montage of Heck' debunks many of the myths
Life and Style
life
Sport
Brendan Rodgers
football The Liverpool manager will be the first option after Pep Guardiola
News
Amazon misled consumers about subscription fees, the ASA has ruled
news
Arts and Entertainment
Myanna Buring, Julian Rhind-Tutt and Russell Tovey in 'Banished'
TV Jimmy McGovern tackles 18th-century crime and punishment
Arts and Entertainment
Paul Whitehouse as Herbert
arts + ents
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

Poldark star Heida Reed

'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn