Mother of murdered girl's plea to parents

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The Independent Online
THE MOTHER of Johanna Young, the 14-year-old girl murdered over the Christmas holiday, sobbed yesterday as she urged parents to keep track of their youngsters.

Mrs Carol Young told of the last time she saw her daughter before she disappeared and was found battered and drowned in a water-filled pit. 'For God's sake, make sure you know where they're going,' she said. 'Because I just wished the hell that I'd done that.'

Johanna went out last Wednesday evening from her home in Watton, near Dereham, Norfolk. 'She asked if she could go out and I said yes, but don't be late in,' Mrs Young said.

Her husband, Robert, added: 'She was happy. We hadn't had an argument in the family and we just thought she was going to see friends or her boyfriend. We were very worried when she didn't come in but we thought it was because of the weather being bad and that she was staying at friends'.'

Johanna's boyfriend, Ryan Firman, 17, had ended their relationship days earlier but she had not told her parents and they said she had not seemed upset. Yesterday he told ITN: 'I was hoping I would get back with her in January. We needed a break from each other because we were arguing too much.'

It was only when Johanna failed to turn up for a paper round the next morning - Christmas Eve - that the alarm was raised. The schoolgirl's half-naked body was found late on Boxing Day floating in the pit a mile from her home.

'Johanna was a sensible girl. We drummed into her this business of not going with strangers,' Mr Young said.

A post-mortem examination showed Johanna died from drowning and had severe head injuries. Police said a reported sighting of her at a kebab takeaway in Norwich on Christmas Eve proved to be someone else.

Detective Superintendent Michael Cole, leading the murder team, said police still believe the teenager was attacked by someone she knew. 'Somewhere there's a wife, a mother, a sister who has doubts about the man in her life - someone who came home late on Wednesday night and may have been heavily mud-stained,' he said.

A full search of the area where Johanna's body was found, Wayland Wood, south of Watton, was being mounted today and the first clues from forensic evidence are expected in the next few days.

Police still have not found Johanna's blue jeans, which were missing from her body.