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EDITIONS
Monday, 5 August, 2002, 15:18 GMT 16:18 UK
'Extreme concern' for missing girls
Holly Wells (left) and Jessica Chapman
Holly Wells (left) and Jessica Chapman
Two 10-year-old girls have gone missing from their homes in Cambridgeshire.

Best friends Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman, both from Soham, were last seen at about 1830 BST on Sunday.

The girls had been playing together at Holly's home in Red House Gardens, but when her parents went to check on them at 2030 BST they had vanished.

A police helicopter was carrying out an extensive search of the area on Monday along with personnel from the nearby United States airforce base at Mildenhall, Suffolk, and 100 local volunteers.

Click here to see the girls' movements

Inspector Simon Causer, from Cambridgeshire Police, said: "We are extremely concerned.

"It is very unusual for them to go off without telling their parents where they are going to be.


Obviously we are in the Fens and water is never very far away so that is something we are concerned about

Inspector Simon Causer

"There appears to be no reason why either girl would go off and both parents are extremely worried."

Both girls had spent the day playing together and had returned to Holly's home in the late afternoon.

Mr Causer said: "Since then we have found a member of the public who saw them walking along Sand Street at about 1830 BST.

'Water concern'

"Quite clearly they are 10-year-old girls who have been missing all night and we are genuinely concerned for their safety.

"Fortunately last night was warm so if they are out they may not have suffered too much.

"They are both small and slightly built and they are both wearing Manchester United football shirts."

Police say that Jessica had a mobile phone with her when she went missing and engineers have traced it to an area of Cambridgeshire surrounding Soham.

"Attempts have been made to ring the mobile but we believe that the battery is dead or the credits have run out," said a police spokesperson.

"Tests were carried out to try and locate it but it showed up only in a very large area of Cambridgeshire which was so inexact as to be of little use."

'Sensible girl'

Both girls are described as being white, about 4ft 6in tall and slim. Jessica is tanned and has shoulder-length brown hair while Holly is fair and has blonde hair.

Mr Causer said: "Obviously we are in the Fens and water is never very far away so that is something we are concerned about.

He said that at this stage, police were keeping an open mind but added that they were not linking the girls' disappearance with that of anyone else.

Holly's aunt, Lesley Allen described her niece as a "sensible girl".

"She would never go off without telling someone, she is always home and always lets her parents know if she is going somewhere.

"This is just completely out of character."

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 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Judith Moloney
"Police have bought in tracker dogs and a helicopter"
The BBC's Richard Lister in Soham
"The mysterious thing is there have been no reports of sightings of these two girls"


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01 Jul 02 | UK
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