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EDITIONS
Saturday, 21 September, 2002, 12:41 GMT 13:41 UK
Sadness permeates Milly's town
Floral tributes to Milly
Flowers have been placed nearby

Feelings of shock and sadness have enveloped the Surrey town of Walton-on-Thames as news unfolded that Amanda "Milly" Dowler's remains had been found.

People there, more than most areas across the country, have been clinging to the hope that the search for the 13-year-old would not end this way.

Milly Dowler
It is six months since Milly's disappearance
In the six months since the teenager disappeared the search for Milly has dominated headlines in this commuter belt town.

But the discovery of a body at Yateley Heath Forest about 25 miles from where Milly was last seen at Walton-on-Thames station has stunned many people.

Victoria MacKisack, who has settled in Walton from her native New Zealand, said: "It is just a tragedy, we are all bleeding for the family at home. "It makes you more paranoid that something like this could happen here - where you felt safe."

FBI help

Her daughter Clem Fraser, 31, said: "It's a relief, but an awful relief. You just wish they could have had a happier outcome."

Flowers are beginning to be laid in memory of Milly near the station.

One bouquet of chrysanthemums is signed from "the mothers of Walton-on-Thames".

It said: "There hasn't been a day gone by when we haven't wished you would come back safe and be back in your family's arms.


Although you expect it it's still a shock that this has happened, you just feel for the parents

Kristian Franklyn, local resident
"We are all very sad for your family and all of the people that knew you.

"We are so sorry we could not stop this happening."

Milly, one of two daughters of Bob and Sally Dowler, had been on her way home from school when she disappeared on 21 March this year.

Her disappearance prompted a nationwide hunt - with help even coming from the FBI.

Victoria Mackisack, resident of Walton-on-Thames
Milly's death has made us feel paranoid, say residents

At the Ashley Park Hotel across the road from Walton-on-Thames railway station, people said Milly's disappearance was a constant talking point.

Cautious parents

The search has penetrated life in Walton, said commuter Clare Dodimead: "Everywhere you go, you'll see a poster in a shop window, in a car, or in someone's house.

"It's never gone away."

Kristian Franklyn, an office worker, spoke of the sadness people now felt.

He said: "Although you expect it it's still a shock that this has happened, you just feel for the parents."

Mr Franklyn, who has a 12-year-old sister at Milly's school, said: "It's made everyone wary, you don't expect it to happen here."

Milly's last conversation with her parents was to telephone her father saying she was on her way home.

Shared grief

But she did not return and now the long months of agonising over her whereabouts have reached the conclusion no-one dared think about.

One mother of a 12-year-old girl said Milly's death would make her "rein in her daughter" even more than she had done already.

Kristian Franklyn
Kristian Franklyn: Milly's death is felt by everyone

She said: "I've stopped her freedom, but you can't help it.

"I make sure that when she goes out now there is a group of her friends with her."

She said many people shared in the grief for Milly's parents.

"I feel so sad for them. Although I never believed she had run away, it is so awful that it has ended like this."

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Clarence Mitchell
"The news that the Dowler family had been dreading"

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20 Sep 02 | England
20 Sep 02 | England
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