Exclusive: Witness saw a hooded teen ‘acting strangely’ on night of Johanna Young murder

Johanna Young coverage from the Eastern Daily Press in 1992. Photo: Steve Adams Johanna Young coverage from the Eastern Daily Press in 1992. Photo: Steve Adams

Wednesday, May 21, 2014
7:03 AM

A witness who has remained silent for 21 years could be the key to solving the mystery of a murdered Norfolk schoolgirl.

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Who wrote the anonymous letter?

Police want to trace the author of an anonymous letter posted to the EDP depicting a possible sighting of Johanna Young.

Sent from a Norwich post office dated December 30, 1992, “Griston Road, Watton” was written in scrawled handwriting, with the date of Johanna’s disappearance and the time of 9pm next to it.

There is a drawing of a motorbike and stick images with “youth” and “girl” written next to them.

Detectives say this may be nothing, but they are keen to trace the sender.

Identifying the “scruffy” teenager picked up on the night of Johanna Young’s death could be key in the hunt for her killer.

For more than two decades a Dereham businessman told only his wife about the hooded man he stopped and gave a lift to just half a mile from where the Watton schoolgirl was found dead.

But now detectives believe the driver’s memory of a man in his late teens acting suspiciously as he drove him along Norwich Road to nearby Scoulton could be a vital piece in the investigation.

Johanna, 14, was found in undergrowth near Griston Road, on Boxing Day 1992, after going missing three days earlier.

The mystery letter sent to the EDP. Do you know who wrote it?The mystery letter sent to the EDP. Do you know who wrote it?

Covered in scratches and partially clothed, the Wayland High School student was found face down in a water filled pit with a fractured skull.

Her killer was never caught, and on the 21st anniversary in December, Johanna’s parents Robert and Carol pleaded with people in the community to share what they know about their daughter’s death.

Norfolk police have always maintained that someone in the Watton area knows what happened to Johanna.

With 6,600 names in the database, serious resource has been put behind the investigation since it reopened five months ago. Last month, a man in his 40s from the Watton area and a man in his 30s from the Thetford area were arrested and bailed in connection with the schoolgirl’s death.

Police have said the man seen walking along Norwich Road towards Scoulton is not either of the two men arrested and bailed. The constabulary’s unsolved case review manager and retired detective, Tony Deacon, said the man picked up near to the old RAF base and dropped at the council houses in Scoulton is significant.

“We have never heard this information before,” he said.

“It had bothered the driver all these years that he had never told the police.

“It always bugged him. He had only spoken to his wife about it but he always had this burden in his head.”

The driver is now a key witness. He can’t remember the identity of the man he picked up and the date had to be pinpointed by police using weather records.

But he does recall that the man was acting strangely, was in his late teens, wearing a hooded top and was scruffy.

“We want to know who that young man was and why he was there. He may have nothing to do with it, but it’s important to get to the truth of it.”

Police are sure Johanna went in to the Griston Road area with someone she knew because she was scared of the dark.

Another witness contacted police in early January 1993 after seeing a young man and a girl standing at the entrance of Gilman’s Drift, known as Muddy Lane, leaning against a motorbike.

That evidence has now become important again as police believe the girl was Johanna and want to find out who the man was – and eliminate him from their inquiries.

Detectives have not given up and want to hear from anyone who thinks they might have some information.

“Who will be ringing now? Is there someone out there who is prepared to go further?” Mr Deacon said.

“Working on the current line of inquiry, there are a number of people we want to go back and speak to.

“We will continue to go back out into the community to speak to people who are linked to get a clearer picture of where they are involved.

“This investigation will continue until we get to the bottom of it.”

If you have any information call Norfolk police on 101.

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