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Last Updated: Tuesday, 19 August, 2003, 15:54 GMT 16:54 UK
Officers remember Genette mystery
By Robin Forestier-Walker

On 19 August 1978, 13 year old Genette Tate disappeared from a quiet little village in rural Devon and to this day the mystery has never been solved.

Genette Tate
Genette had been doing a paper round
Police involved in the original investigation have recalled events from the time, and the public's massive response.

But in 25 years no body was ever found and Genette's case is the longest missing person's inquiry in British history.

John Alderson, formerly Chief Constable of the Devon and Cornwall Constabulary, said the inquiry was one of the first to take advantage of significant media coverage.

"We stoked up the publicity to get some reactions because we had nothing, and it was a landmark case in the sense that it involved the media over a protracted period - I regarded them as part of the investigating body."

But despite the amount of press coverage and the search techniques that included heat seeking equipment, specially trained bloodhounds and even a clairvoyant, the investigation drew a virtual blank.

Police Constable Roy Adams was a trainee officer drafted in from Devonport to help with the search.

I wanted the public to share a moral, collective responsibility
Former Chief Constable John Alderson
He said the vast majority of officers in the Devon and Cornwall Constabulary were called in to help - no mean feat in a force area that stretches some 140 miles from end to end.

Mounted police from neighbouring Avon & Somerset Constabulary were also involved.

"One of the things I most remember is the community spirit that existed. On one particular day an estimated 6000 members of the public turned up to help."

Former Chief Constable John Anderson said he did not despair at his force's efforts to solve the teenager's disappearance.

"I took comfort from the fact that at the very beginning the public were involved. I wanted the public to share a moral, collective responsibility."

"It was a tragic event but it really did indicate how a community pulled together," he added.

DNA could solve 24-year mystery
15 Dec 02  |  England
Genette police in Ulster link
23 Feb 03  |  England


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