Sunday, 18 August, 2002, 21:33 GMT 22:33 UK
Timeline of events
Both girls are described as about 4ft 6in tall and slim
As police find the bodies of Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman, and arrest a man and a woman on suspicion of their murder, here is the timetable of the events that have unfolded since their disappearance:
Sunday 4 August
- The girls spend the day playing together at Holly's home in Red House Gardens, Soham, Cambridgeshire.
- 1704 BST - The last picture is taken of the girls, both wearing red Manchester
United T-shirts, dark trousers and Nike trainers, by Holly's mother Nicola in the living room of the Wells' home. A clock behind the girls shows the time, just before they leave a family barbecue.
The last picture taken of the girls
- 1817 BST - CCTV footage shows the girls crossing the car park of the Ross
Peers sports centre in Soham. They did not have their parents' permission to go there. Shortly afterwards two men and two women are pictured leaving the centre and getting into separate cars, a blue Renault Clio and a red car with a spoiler.
- 1830 BST - A member of the public who knows Holly and Jessica well sees them walking along Sand Street, Soham, the last definite sighting of the girls.
- 2030 BST - Holly's parents, Nicola and Kevin Wells, think the girls are
playing upstairs but go to check when guests at their barbecue remark on how quiet
they are. They discover the girls are missing and raise the alarm.
- 2240 to 2310 BST - A jogger hears what he describes as 'teenagers screaming' as he walks his dog in the Warren Hill area near Newmarket in Suffolk. This is not reported to police until two days later.
Monday 5 August
- Dawn - Search begins with police and local volunteers.
- 0645 BST - A woman living in Little Thetford, Cambridgeshire, apparently sees two girls walk past her house on the main A10 road which heads south from Soham towards Cambridge and London. Police later play down the possibility this could have been Holly and Jessica.
Holly Wells' parents hold hands at a press conference
- 0900 BST - Police issue a public appeal saying they are becoming increasingly
concerned for the girls.
- Officers reveal Jessica had a mobile phone on her when she was last seen but signal tests give an imprecise location - only that it was in the Soham area.
- The girls' parents, Sharon and Leslie Chapman and Mr and Mrs Wells, appear
at a press conference to appeal for help in finding them.
- About 500 people and officers from neighbouring Suffolk and Essex join Cambridgeshire Police in the search, which goes on through much of the night.
Footballer David Beckham issued an appeal
Tuesday 6 August
It later emerges that a jogger contacts police to tell them that on Sunday August 4 between 10.40pm and 11.10pm as he was walking his dog in the area of Warren Hill, near Newmarket, Suffolk, he reported what he described as teenagers screaming.
The jogger is spoken to on the same day by officers and a "report was created in relation to that to form part of the inquiry".
This is the same jogger who a week later is to alert police to the discovery of two disturbed mounds of earth in the same area.
- Daybreak - Officers begin scouring the verge of the A10.
- Diane Westley, grandmother of Holly Wells, appeals for the youngsters to return home.
- Manchester United and England star David Beckham appeals for the girls to return home.
Wednesday 7 August
- 0630 BST - Police seize a white van from the Wentworth area, 10 miles away from Soham.
- 1000 BST - Both sets of parents appear at an emotional press conference.
- Detective Superintendent David Hankins, the officer leading the inquiry, admits police are increasingly looking at the possibility of abduction.
450 residents attended a vigil for the girls
- 1930 BST - Friends and family hold a vigil at St Andrew's Church in Soham. Prayers are said by about 450 villagers for the girls' safe return.
- Express Newspapers offer a £1m reward for information directly leading to the arrest and conviction of anyone found responsible for the girls'
disappearance. The Sun and the News of the World offer a £150,000 reward.
Thursday 8 August
- Detectives release the CCTV pictures showing two girls that police are "confident" are Holly and Jessica.
- Mr Hankins appeals for the men and women seen at the sports centre to get in touch.
Friday 9 August
Saturday 10 August
- An examination of computers seized at the girls' homes has resulted in a "number of lines of inquiry", according to police.
- It emerges the school attended by the girls had, weeks earlier, warned parents of strangers in the area.
- Police release new pictures of Jessica and say they believe the girls are still alive, based on advice from experts such as offender profilers and criminal psychologists.
- A fresh sighting of the girls by someone who knew them places them in the town centre at 1920 BST on the day of their disappearance.
- Police stage reconstruction in Soham of the girls' last known moves.
A replica of necklace worn by Jessica Chapman
- Two men are arrested for allegedly refusing to cooperate with the inquiry, but police stressed that they do not consider it a "significant development".
- Detectives reiterate their belief that the girls are still alive and said the reconstruction could bring the vital clue they need to find them.
Sunday 11 August
- 1700 BST to 1900 BST - Police question motorists passing through the girls' home town. Officers stop 700 cars in an area where the pair were last seen.
- The girls' families attend a local church service, during which prayers were said for Jessica and Holly.
Monday 12 August
- Officials from the Ministry of Defence are drafted in to the investigation to help sift the information.
- The girls' parents make a heart-rending plea for their return. Jessica's mother Sharon Chapman says "it is never too late" to return the girls.
Ian Webster may have seen the girls in a car
- Police reveal a possible sighting of the girls after they disappeared. They say a taxi driver saw another motorist struggling with two children as he swerved across the A142 south of Soham, about the time the girls
- Detectives defend a four-day delay between the taxi driver reporting what he saw, and him being formally interviewed.
Tuesday 13 August
- The taxi driver responds to criticism about the delay in his information being made public by police. He says he reported it to police as soon as he thought what he had seen may be significant.
- Suffolk Police contact Cambridgeshire Police officers at approximately 1130 BST after a man who had been jogging in the Warren Hill area near Newmarket reports finding two areas of earth that appear to be recently disturbed. This is the same man who had reported screams a week earlier.
- An officer from Cambridgeshire visits the man and he takes him to the area, which is described as a wooded part of Warren Hill.
- Early evening - police begin examining the two areas of recently disturbed earth. At 2200 BST they say preliminary searches have proved inconclusive.
Wednesday 14 August
- 0630 BST Police confirm the mounds of earth are not linked to Holly and Jessica's disappearance.
- Officers "downgrade" inquiries into the sighting of a green car seen driving erratically on the evening the girls disappeared 11 days ago.
- The detective leading the investigation issues a personal video message asking the girls' presumed abductor to call him directly, setting a deadline of midnight on Thursday 15 August.
Thursday 15 August
- Scotland Yard detectives are called in to review the way Cambridgeshire police have conducted their search for the missing girls, earlier than would normally be expected.
Friday 16 August
- Police question a man and a woman over the disappearance of the missing girls as the couple's home in Soham as well as Soham Village College are searched. They are released after seven hours of questioning.
- Earlier the girls' parents used a news conference to make a direct appeal to any abductor to return their daughters back home safely.
Saturday 17 August
- Police resume their search of the Soham home of the man and woman, Soham Village College, and St Andrews Primary School, which the missing
- A 28-year-old man is arrested on suspicion of abduction and murder, and a 25-year-old woman is arrested on suspicion of murder, after police recover items of "major importance" from Soham Village College.
- Police confirm that two bodies have been found near an air base at Mildenhall in Suffolk.
Sunday 18 August
- The community of Soham pack St Andrew's Church for a special service as they wait for confirmation that the search for the missing girls is over.
- Police are granted an extra 36 hours to question Ian Huntley, 28, and Maxine Carr, 25, in connection with the abduction and murder of the missing 10-year-olds.
- The bodies were moved to nearby Addenbrookes Hospital for further examination.
- Acting Deputy Chief Constable Keith Hoddy, leading the investigations, says police are as certain as they can be that the bodies are those of Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman.
- Police investigations continue at schools in Soham, a car wash at the Q8 petrol station and at the home of Mr Huntley's father, in Littleport, about 10 miles from Soham.
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