Four months ago, sicko Mark Bridger was convicted of the abduction and murder of April Jones
. Today her funeral was held in her home town of Machynlleth where she lived her tragically short life. Mourners wore her favourite pink
as the horse drawn hearse transported what was left of her through the town centre.
April was one of countless numbers of girls and young women who have disappeared without trace over the years.
Although she was abducted in 1978, the face of Genette Tate, below, will be familiar both to those readers with long memories and those with an interest in these kind of mysteries. Genette vanished literally without trace; the only thing ever found was her bicycle, which together with some of the newspapers she had been delivering was scattered in the road.
Years later, Robert Black
became the prime suspect in her murder, purely on modus operandi
and the fact that he may have been in the area at the time. At 13, Genette was arguably too old for his peculiar tastes, but the police did send a file
to the CPS for consideration in 2005. That was as far as the matter got, so unless and until Black confesses and leads them to her body, it looks as though she will never be found.
A case that is still ongoing is that of Madelaine McCann. For a number of reasons, this case generated enormous publicity. Madelaine disappeared while on holiday with her parents in a Portuguese seaside resort. The McCanns had rather unusual babysitting arrangements, and this and other things led to lurid speculation that her mother had killed her, either deliberately or by accident. Because no trace of Madelaine was found and little information was released by the police, the gutter press began making things up, which led to a series of libel actions by a number of parties. Indeed, at this very moment Dr Kate McCann is fighting a libel action
against a disgraced detective who doesn't seem to understand the difference between evidence and speculation. Although the McCanns have obviously not given up hope, the prognosis is not good. The victims of Moors Murderers Brady
and Hindley, and of killer couple Fred and Rose West
are testimony to that. Occasionally though, miracles do happen.
The crimes of Belgian paedophile Marc Dutroux left four girls dead, but two were found alive. The worst outrage of this nature ever to happen in Belgium saw mass protests in the streets at an alleged cover up by people in high places. One of Dutroux's collaborators, his wife, was released last year
after serving 16 years of her 30 year sentence, and unsurprisingly, the public didn't like it.
Natasha Kampusch was ten years old when she disappeared, and was surely dead after a week, a month or a year. Eight years later, in August 2006, the Austrian schoolgirl reappeared, having been held for all that time by Wolfgang Přiklopil, who saved the cost of a trial by throwing himself in front of a train after she escaped.
The most bizarre and unbelievable case has to be that of Elizabeth Fritzl
who was held captive in a specially constructed dungeon by her own father for 24 years raping her repeatedly, impregnating her seven times, the six surviving children of whom had never seen daylight. If that had been submitted as a book manuscript or a synopsis for a horror film, would any publisher or producer have given it the time of day? The story is so bizarre and unbelievable that the American comedian Reginald D. Hunter
has joked about it in his stage act
Finally, there were the Cleveland Captives
, the latest in a series of shocking and unbelievable cases in which young women reappeared years after common sense, reason, logic and the historical record told all but those with a religious conviction that they were lost forever, probably buried in an unmarked grave on a windy moor or under the floorboards of some sicko's house.
Undoubtedly Kate McCann is hoping that one day her daughter will join the names of Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight on that list of miraculous reappearances.