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1970: 'Babes in the wood' bodies found

The bodies of two children have been found in a shallow grave in a wood at Waltham Abbey in Essex.

Detectives who have been investigating the disappearance 10 weeks ago of Susan Blatchford, aged 11, and Gary Hanlon, aged 12, have been called to the scene.

It seems almost certain the bodies are those of Susan and Gary, both from Enfield in north London, who were last seen on 31 March playing together near their homes.

The bodies of the girl and boy were found by a man taking his dog for a walk this evening on the edge of Epping Forest, about six miles from where the missing children lived. A plimsoll and other clothing were found by police dogs.

Trail went cold

A Home Office pathologist and forensic science experts are making an on-the-spot investigation under arc lights.

But police are waiting until first light tomorrow before carrying out a full examination of the scene.

The children's bodies were found huddled together under bracken and twigs.

The day Susan and Gary disappeared Susan had called at Gary's home at about 1630 hours and asked him to go for a walk.

They were last seen about an hour later walking across a field together, but after that the trail went cold.

The night the children went missing the temperature fell below freezing point and the next day it snowed.

Gary's parents Frank Hanlon, a painter and decorator, and his wife, Beryl, sat up all night waiting for their son's return.

In a nearby street, the parents of Susan, Lionel Blatchford, a laboratory assistant and his wife Muriel were also waiting in vain.

A massive police hunt was launched for the children under the leadership of Detective Chief Superintendent Leonard Nipper Read, the man who brought the Krays to justice.

Some 600 officers searched the area. They interviewed 15,000 people and searched 4,356 homes.

There was speculation the children had run away together. There was no initial indication that they had been abducted or come to any harm.

Police believe they died from exposure.

In Context
The bodies were confirmed as Gary Hanlon and Susan Blatchford.

The inquest in September ended with an open verdict because scientific tests at the time could not tell if the pair had died from exposure or foul play.

Although some of Susan's clothes were missing, the coroner said it was possible a wild animal could have removed them.

But the parents were unconvinced.

The case was eventually reopened in 1996 after paedophile Ronald Jebson, serving a jail sentence for the murder of eight-year-old Rosemary Papper, told a prison officer he knew who had murdered the children.

He tried to implicate Rosemary's parents but detectives disproved his story and became convinced Jebson himself was the killer.

In 1999 Susan Blatchford's body was exhumed for further tests to be carried out. Gary's body had been cremated.

In May 2000 Jebson was jailed for life after finally confessing to the so-called "Babes in the wood" murders.

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