For almost two weeks, Maxine Carr denied the awful truth that stared her in the face.
Her boyfriend Ian Huntley had committed murder in the home they shared. Not once, but twice.
Police arrested Carr at the same time as Huntley
If she had exposed his lies after Holly and Jessica went missing, the police would have quickly established that he was the killer.
But, believing him to be innocent, she tried to protect him, and Soham's agony was prolonged for 13 days.
Maxine Carr had worked as a teaching assistant in the girls' school, and knew them both well.
The 10-year-olds had even joked about one day being bridesmaids at her wedding.
When they went missing, Maxine was a hundred miles away from Soham at her mother's home in Grimsby.
Ian Huntley rang her and said he was worried because the girls had called at the house just before they disappeared. He was concerned he would be "fitted up" by police, he told Maxine.
She believed him and so she lied to police, telling them she was upstairs in the bath when the girls came to the door.
She repeated her lies about Huntley's movements when questioned by the media.
Carr had been employed at St Andrew's Primary School as a temporary assistant. When she applied for a permanent job, she was turned down.
There was a feeling she had become too close to the pupils, and was unable to create an "appropriate distance".
When it was announced that she would be leaving the school, Holly was dismayed. She gave Maxine a farewell card and some chocolates.
Jessica and Holly were upset when Carr left their school
"She was very upset when I didn't get the job," said Carr.
"She kept looking at me with tears in her eyes, and at the end of the day I just burst into tears."
At the Old Bailey, Carr said that she believed Huntley's story about the girls leaving the house, still alive and well. She said she had loved Ian Huntley, and had hoped they would marry.
The jury accepted her version of events and found her not guilty of assisting an offender but guilty of the lesser charge of conspiracy to pervert the course of justice.
Maxine and Ian's relationship began not long after Huntley faced a charge of rape in 1998. The case was "discontinued" and he was released from custody.
Those who knew Huntley and Carr regarded them as a typical young couple. He seemed "a bit strange" to some, but she came across as an unremarkable young woman.
"They kept the place looked after," says Paul Dickson, their landlord in Scunthorpe.
"She was a reasonably quiet person, and kept herself to herself. I can't say I saw her smile too much."
A neighbour, Marie Wilson, often saw the couple in her hairdressing salon.
"She seemed genuine, a nice enough person," she recalls.
"She chatted about work and things. She was really close to him. They went off together on holidays and weekend trips. They were a normal couple."
'Shy and withdrawn'
Maxine Carr suffered from an eating disorder, and appears to have been obsessive in the way she constantly cleaned the house at Soham.
In court, she said she had suffered an "abusive" relationship.
She and Huntley often used to visit a pub called the Black Horse, a few miles away from Soham at Littleport.
The landlord at the time, Brian Kelly, remembers that they first came in on New Year's Eve, eight months before the two girls went missing.
"They liked to play pool," he recalls.
"They were a normal couple, friendly, you can't say they were different. They came in, enjoyed themselves, and socialised. They were quite easy going.
"He was pretty outgoing, and very confident. She was probably a little bit shyer, more withdrawn. I would say he was more dominant."
After her arrest, Maxine Carr was forced to acknowledge the terrible reality of what happened in the home she shared with Ian Huntley.