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Monday, 8 July, 2002, 14:06 GMT 15:06 UK
Snatched on a shopping trip
CCTV image of Leanne and Sarah Whitehouse in Leeds
Leanne was last seen shopping in Leeds
Leanne Tiernan was a happy, fun-loving teenager, busy studying for her GCSEs and enjoying life when she vanished in November 2000.

The bubbly 16-year-old lived with her mother Sharon and sister Michelle, 19. The three were extremely close and thought of themselves as a "whole together".

Leanne's father Michael, who was divorced from her mother but remained close to the family, described her as "much loved".

Leanne was a normal adolescent girl, described by her mother as "no saint, but no worse than any other teenager", with a pierced eyebrow, a fondness for chocolate and a boyfriend she had been seeing for nearly four months.

Leanne Tiernan
Leanne was a happy, outgoing teenager
Leanne was very close to her best friend Sarah Whitehouse, the two sharing the same interests and even a similar look.

It turned out that Sarah was the last person to see her alive, after an early Christmas shopping trip together in the centre of Leeds.

The two parted company after getting a bus back to their homes in the Bramley area of the city. Leanne left Sarah at the bus stop and was last seen walking alone through unlit wasteland.

Public appeals

Her disappearance led to frantic public appeals as the weeks, then months, went by.

Almost as soon as she vanished, police feared she had been abducted. They thought she was too happy to have run away, and too streetwise to have gone off with a stranger.

Leanne (l) was close to her grandmother and sister (r)

West Yorkshire Police launched their largest ever missing persons inquiry, with 1,000 officers searching the area and conducting house-to-house enquiries.

But her body was not found until nine months later, when it was spotted by a man walking his dog at a beauty spot 16 miles away.

She had been strangled, with a dog collar and scarf still around her neck. Her body was wrapped in bin bags and a duvet cover.

Police said her body was clothed and there was no immediate sign of sexual interference.

They suggested she may have been killed on the day she vanished, with her body being stored for some time - possibly in a freezer - and later dumped.

The tragic discovery was made in the week Leanne's classmates at West Leeds High School were picking up their GCSE results.

Bubbly personality

Hundreds of mourners turned up to Leanne's funeral - held the day before what would have been her 17th birthday.

Sharon wanted it to be a celebration of her life, and friends and relatives wore bright colours to commemorate her bubbly personality.

As the months went by, police' studies of hairs found on the scarf led them to parcel delivery worker John Taylor.

They learned that Taylor enjoyed being cruel to animals, and had a taste for sado-masochism. He had been advertising in newspapers for a girlfriend.

Taylor was charged in October 2001, and admitted abducting Leanne in February 2002. He admitted her murder five months later.


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08 Jul 02 | England
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