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Holly and Jessica: Child victims

Child abductions are rare but they play on every parent's greatest fear
Child abductions are rare but they play on every parent's greatest fear  

By CNN's Diana Muriel

SOHAM, England (CNN) -- The quiet town of Soham in eastern England is grieving for the missing schoolgirls Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman.

Flowers and cards were mounting outside the local church on Monday after Cambridgeshire police said they were almost certain the two bodies discovered on Saturday were those of the missing two 10-year-olds.

The cards speak of the grief and loss felt by people who never knew Holly and Jessica.

The town came together in one of the biggest manhunts ever mounted in Britain. Through the media, each development and disappointment in the search for Holly and Jessica was played out on national and international television. Crews from Denmark, France, Germany and Belgium all covered the story.

Now the families of the two girls have asked the media to withdraw. Deputy Chief Constable Keith Hoddy said: "You have all played a very important part in the hunt for Jessica and Holly, and for that I thank you.

Picture gallery: The hunt for Holly and Jessica 
Soham: Community in shock 
Timeline: Hope, grief and despair 

"But perhaps now I may invite you to consider that it may now be an appropriate time for all media representatives to withdrawal from this community to allow it to come to terms with its terrible loss."

Police are carrying out an examination at Addenbrooke's Hospital in Cambridge of the two small bodies found in woodland on Saturday about 10 miles from where the girls disappeared -- police are all but certain these are the bodies of the girls.

As the families mourn, those caught up in this tragedy are also suffering.

Cambridgeshire County Council has set up a helpline for the people of Soham. The service is manned by five educational psychologists and trained counsellors.

Cambridge decided to set up this service after seeking advice from Surrey County Council after its experience in this field following two recent similar cases -- that of Sarah Payne and Amanda "Milly" Dowler.

The two bodies were found at the end of this track running alongside the Lakenheath Air Base
The two bodies were found at the end of this track running alongside the Lakenheath Air Base  

Eight-year-old Sarah, from Surrey, disappeared during a visit to her grandparents in Sussex in 2000. She had been out playing with her brothers and sister when she was abducted while chasing the family dog through a hedge in a cornfield.

Her body was found 16 days later. Serial sex offender Roy Whiting was later convicted of her abduction and killing.

Amanda, 13, went missing while walking home from Walton-on Thames railway station, southwest of London, in March this year. Nothing has been heard of the youngster since.

An estimated 100,000 people are reported missing in Britain every year, although cases of child abduction are rare. But when they do happen they dominate the public's attention, playing on every parent's fear.

The benchmark by which other cases of evil and depravity are measured in Britain remains that of the Moors murderers Myra Hindley and her lover Ian Brady.

They were convicted and jailed for life for their roles in the abduction and murder of Lesley Ann Downing, 10, and Edward Evans, 17. Brady was also sentenced for the killing of John Kilbride, 12. The pair were later to confess to the killings of Pauline Reade, 16, and Keith Bennett, 12.

Cambridgeshire Police arrested a 28-year-old man and a 25-year-old woman on Saturday in connection with their investigation into the abduction and murder of Holly and Jessica.

The names of the couple arrested have not been released but they have been identified in British media reports as Ian Huntley, a caretaker at the girls' school and his girlfriend Maxine Carr, a former teaching assistant there. Neither suspect has been charged with any offence.


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