On August 4, 2002, two 10 year old girls donned Manchester United shirts and walked off into oblivion. Ten years on, ITV speaks to their parents.
There are some deaths which grip an entire nation; the premature death of Whitney Houston last year and the assassination of President Kennedy gripped the entire world. Sadly, it is more often the murders than the natural or premature deaths that have that effect, none more so than of the very young.
For anyone of a certain age in Britain in the 1960s, the Moors Murders will never be forgotten; these involved the kidnapping, torture and murder of young boys and girls by psycho Ian Brady and his more than willing accomplice, Myra Hindley.
The Soham Murders were to the 2000s what the Moors Murders were to the 1960s, although the comparison can be slightly misleading, because the latter were perpetrated by one and only one, person, Ian Kevin Huntley, even though the hapless Maxine Carr appeared in the dock with him.
Soham - A Parents' Tale sees the documentary makers return to Soham ten years on to share the memories of Kevin and Nicola, the parents of Holly Wells, and of Holly's then twelve year old brother. Father and son relate how they went out to look for Holly when she failed to return home by her curfew. The parents of Jessica Chapman did not take part in this programme, possibly because even after ten years they find it too painful to speak publicly about their daughter.
an official police photograph
An official police photograph of Maxine Carr.
Soham is mentioned in the Domesday Book; apart from a rail disaster in June 1944, nothing much has happened there before or since. Indeed, as with many small towns, it is, or was, virtually crime-free.
Kevin Wells and his son Oliver and others relate how the initial search for the girls was thwarted by a thick fog, but of course, by that time they were almost certainly both already dead. Desperate people do desperate things, and they consulted the local psychic. This charlatan told Kevin the girls were dead - did it really take a psychic to work that out? The documentary makers even interviewed this guy, who puts in an appearance later in the programme, having wormed his way into the grieving family with his ludicrous spiel.
Six days after their disappearance, the police organised a reconstruction; ten days after that, the Manchester United soccer team - including David Beckham - appealed directly to them.
Then there was the arrest of both Huntley, and Carr, who had foolishly but understandably given her baby-faced lover an alibi; the massive outpouring of grief across the nation, and the service of remembrance at Ely Cathedral.
The conviction of Ian Huntley led to significant reforms in the way British police forces process information about alleged sex offenders because of the way Huntley - who had a track record - had managed to slip though the net. That is not much of a legacy for two young lives so cruelly snatched away, but that and the thought of the sometime suicidal Huntley sitting along in his cell is as good as it gets for some people.
For those who can receive it, Soham - A Parents' Tale can currently be found on iplayer.