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But the passage of half a century since year-old April Fabb vanished has done nothing to ease the pain felt by the community where she lived - nor the terrible fascination with finding the answer which, 50 years on, may still lie in their midst. The sun was shining as April climbed on to her bicycle on 8 April It was the Easter holidays and the year-old planned to ride the two miles from her sleepy Norfolk hamlet to her sister's house, excited at delivering a birthday present of 10 cigarettes to her brother-in-law.
But April never arrived. Police launched the biggest search operation the county had ever seen.
Since her disappearance, officers have visited houses, conducted hundreds of interviews, taken nearly 2, statements, and spent countless hours on the case, yet have never come close to an answer. Retired detective Maurice Morson inherited the case in and has since written a book on the subject. Her sisters Pamela and Diane had already moved out.
A shy girl, she was an animal-lover who doted on the family's terrier, Trudy. Her interests were typical of a teenager of the time: she enjoyed stamp-collecting, needlework and watching Top of the Pops. On her bedroom walls were posters of her favourite band, Amen Corner. They were to remain there for years after her disappearance, untouched by her parents in the hope that she would one day come back.
Never let me go
The first that anything was wrong came as night fell on Tuesday, 8 April and the teenager had still not returned. At BST, after learning April had not been seen all day, her parents raised the alarm. By then, unknown to them, her bike had been found in a field near Reallly by a passing motorist and taken to a police station at Cromer. That discovery added to officers' early fears that April had not simply run away. He immediately grasped the implications and suspected that April must have been abducted.
It was a case that would haunt him until his death 48 years later. The search he led was the biggest in the history of the Norfolk force.
On the first day, it involved 40 officers and every police dog in the county, nearly doubling Metton's population. Descriptions of April, 5ft 4ins, with norflk brown hair and blue eyes, were circulated.
Her family clung to the hope her absence had an innocent explanation. It was "a day of clues", said Friday's Eastern Daily Press.
A bloody onrfolk embroidered with "A" was found. Reports came in of a speeding van spotted in Metton on Tuesday afternoon. Passengers remembered seeing a teenage girl boarding a train to Norwich.
The urgency increased: frogmen searched lakes, posters Just looking out April were put up at railway stations, and fot and hotels were checked for sightings. By Friday, three days after she had last been seen, her parents appealed to her directly through the press to return.
They refused to lock the door overnight, leaving a light on in the porch. As information mounted and witnesses came forward, police pieced together a timeline.
The missing minutes image captionApril's bike was found dumped in a field next to Back Lane in Metton As April left Metton to ride to her sister Pamela's house, she saw two friends playing with a donkey in a farmer's field. She stopped to pet it, then d her journey. The last sighting of the year-old was by the driver of a Land Rover passing in the opposite direction as she left the hamlet, at Nine minutes later, April's bike was seen in a field by three Ordnance Survey workers passing from a distance.
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It had been thrown over a six-foot bank on the country lane where April had been riding. What happened in those few minutes holds the key to the fate of the teenager. As time passed, the trail grew cold.
The bloody handkerchief had been used by a woman on her son's grazed knee. Drivers presented their alibis, and the runaway theory was discounted.
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Prayers were said for April's family on Sunday morning, and local Sahw looking for girlfriend chipped in for a reward fund. But good intentions could not mask a lack of progress. A month on from her disappearance, the headline in the local paper read: "Still no news tor missing schoolgirl".
And that is agonising for her family and the people who knew her. Mr Cole went on to enjoy a career in which he travelled the world, but the story crom with him. Her pathetic possessions: in her saddlebag she had 10 cigarettes for her brother-in-law, fivepence ha'penny and a handkerchief.
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They are the responsibility of retired Det Ch Insp Andy Guy, the cold case manager who has learned April's file "pretty much inside out" since He believes April was either abducted by a predator passing through Metton, or by a local person who, he admits, "we have never really had enough in our sights". He still hopes the information that could solve the case might lie in the local community. Is there someone who acts strangely around the anniversary, or in the area where April was snatched?