|Thursday, 20 November 2008 13:13|
Amanda Jane "Milly" Dowler
Born: 25 June 1988
Died: (found) 21 March 2002
Cause of death: Murder
Notable because: Massive publicity followed her disappearance. Seemingly the whole of Britain mourned her.
Milly was an English schoolgirl who was murdered on the way home from school in Walton-on-Thames, Surrey. Her disappearance in March 2002, followed by the discovery of her remains six months later, resulted in nationwide media attention, a police investigation (Operation Ruby) involving over 100 officers at its peak and numerous tributes. The police received over 6,000 telephone calls, questioned over 2,800 people and made 120 searches.
The current prime suspect in her killing is Levi Bellfield, who was convicted on 25 February 2008 of murdering two women and attempting to kill a third in sexually-motivated attacks.
At 3 p.m. on 21 March 2002, Dowler left Heathside School to go home on the train. Dowler got off at Walton-on-Thames railway station to visit a café with friends, one stop early from her usual stop of Hersham. After phoning her father at 3.47 p.m. to tell him she would be home in half an hour, Dowler set off for home on foot, and was last seen a quarter of an hour later walking along Station Approach.It is believed Dowler was killed and buried shortly afterwards. A nationwide search followed the disappearance, including 100 officers and helicopters searching the fields, streets and rivers around Hersham. Detectives who had worked on the abduction of Sarah Payne were called in to help. Police and Dowler's family made multiple appeals for information, including a reconstruction on Crimewatch, and a plea by pop star Will Young on the ITN news programme, as Dowler was a fan and had attended a concert of his the day before her disappearance. The Crimewatch appeal included a direct appeal to Dowler in the hope that she had run away from home of her own accord, though the day before her father had already expressed fears that his daughter had been abducted. Dowler's mother expressed hope that her daughter had indeed run away, but admitted that she could think of no reason why her daughter would want to do so.
A week after Dowler's disappearance, the police stated that she was probably not taken by force, reasoning that, while Dowler was unlikely, of her own free will, to have gone off with someone she did not know, no-one had come forward who had witnessed a struggle, despite a number of apparent sightings of Dowler prior to her disappearance.
On 23 April, the discovery of a body in the Thames prompted media speculation that the body was that of Dowler, however the body was identified the following day as 73-year-old Maisie Thomas, who had gone missing a year earlier, and whose death was not believed to be suspicious. In June of that year, despite further searches, the offer of a £100,000 reward by national tabloid The Sun and Dowler's parents continued to text her mobile in the hope of a reply, Dowler remained missing and by the summer of that year police told Dowler's parents that she was probably dead.
On 18 September 2002, Dowler's skeletal remains were discovered in Yateley Heath Forest near Fleet, Hampshire, and confirmed as Dowler's two days later. The discovery of the body led the police to reclassify the case from a missing person investigation to a murder investigation. None of the clothes Dowler was wearing, nor the purse, rucksack or mobile phone Dowler had with her at the time of her disappearance were found, and as of 2008 they are still missing.
As of 2008, nobody has been charged with Dowler's murder, but three people have appeared in court in relation to the case.
On 25 February 2008, the Metropolitan Police announced that Levi Bellfield was their prime suspect in the murder inquiry. On that day, he had been convicted on two murder charges as well as a charge of attempted murder. It was reported Bellfield is a "prime suspect" in the case and Surrey police were "very interested" in questioning him, not least due to his suspicious behaviour around the time of Milly's disappearance and the fact that he had lived in Walton-on-Thames, but have yet to charge Bellfield or indeed anyone else in connection with Milly's death.
On 7 March 2008, another man was arrested over the 'disposal' of a car linked to the murder but was released later that same day.sweetpea was named after her and made publicly available by Matthewman's Sweetpeas
|Last Updated on Tuesday, 02 December 2008 15:39|