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Last Updated: Sunday, 10 August, 2003, 12:30 GMT 13:30 UK
Arrest in 1996 missing boys inquiry
David Spencer (left) and Patrick Warren
David Spencer (left) and Patrick Warren were best friends
A man has been questioned by police about two Birmingham boys who went missing nearly seven years ago.

David Spencer, who was 13-years-old, and Patrick Warren, then 11, disappeared from their homes in the Chelmsley Wood, Solihull, on Boxing Day, 1996.

The best friends later became the focus of a national missing persons campaign when their faces were printed on milk cartons.

The mother of David Spencer, Christine O'Toole, said police have told her that a man was arrested after an anonymous letter, received by detectives 18-months-ago, was traced to Winson Green Prison in Birmingham.

The letter said the boys were buried in Woodgate Valley, Birmingham, but Mrs O'Toole, 40, said a police search of the area, which included housing and woodland, had recovered nothing.

Christmas presents

The pair went missing after saying they were going out to play and it was originally thought they had run away.

But family members were baffled as to why the boys should leave, discarding their Christmas presents.

Mrs O'Toole said: "I still remember my last Christmas Day with David. I bought him a pool table and Paddy brought his new bike round in the morning to show him.

I'm frightened to go out just in case he phones me or comes back and I'm not in to greet him
Christine O'Toole

"They spent all day playing on that bike and eating the Christmas leftovers. They were great friends."

Mrs O'Toole added that her life has been on hold since her son disappeared.

She said: "It's been terrible. I haven't been on holiday or anything.

"I'm frightened to go out, just in case he phones me or comes back and I'm not in to greet him.

"So I don't go out very often. I go out once a week to do shopping and to socialise and that's about it.

"If David is dead out there I want him home so I can bury him and get on with my life - at the moment I'm stuck in limbo."

A 37-year-old Birmingham man was arrested on Thursday after detectives received new information, a police spokesperson has confirmed.

The man, who has not been named, has been released on bail.

Anyone with information about the case is being asked to contact police in Solihull.

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