The case of April Fabb, who vanished without trace in 1969, has been described as Norfolk’s Mary Celeste by former detective Maurice Morson who inherited the investigation in the 1980s when it was 14 years old.

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Mr Morson, pictured, a former head of Norfolk CID, retired from the force in 1987, but was so moved by the case that he set about writing a book – The Lost Years – The Story of April Fabb – which was first published in 1995 and sold out in a matter of weeks.

The purpose of the book was to aid the police investigation and provide a permanent memorial to April at the main door of St Andrew’s Church at Metton, a church she regularly visited opposite her then family home.

A new and updated edition was published in 2007 with the proceeds going towards a trophy at her school, although further requests to reprint have been resisted until now.

With the support of the Fabb family and Norfolk’s chief constable Phil Gormley, who has provided a new foreword, the book has been reprinted with a 2012 preface with the proceeds going towards the restoration of the church at Metton.

Mr Morson, 76, who lives at Costessey, said he hopes the revised edition will not only raise funds for the church in Metton but also keep it firmly at the forefront of the public’s minds.

He said: “I was asked over the years if I would reprint it but never intended to for personal profit – I had to have a cause.

“The family started this as they are involved in the church restoration so I did it. I’ve reprinted a few hundred copies.”

He added: “It’s the Mary Celeste of Norfolk – an enduring mystery. It’s a case which has never been put to bed.

“It’s an inquiry which has never gone to sleep – there’s always something which comes to the fore and on occasions such as this there will be someone getting in touch with the police.

Mr Morson said the fact the book about April was being reprinted in a month when another April, five-year-old April Jones, has gone missing from her home in Machynlleth, mid Wales, earlier this month, was a “tragic coincidence”.

He said: “The Wales case is another tragic thing.

“It’s desperately tragic and its very heartening to see the public response. There is a tragic coincidence of the names.”

The agony being felt by the family of April Jones is only too familiar to that which has been felt by the Fabb family for more than 40 years now.

Mr Morson said: “She would be 57 now if she had lived but it’s the unknown I think which has touched people, the sheer mystery. The agony of the unknown can be worse than the known.

“Her sisters are still alive, her mother is still alive and in her 90s but her father has since died. He died in 1998. The fact that her sisters are now both grandmothers – it reflects the passage of time. It’s going to constantly hurt them even after 43 years.”

The April Fabb case is one of a number of investigations which has been looked at by Norfolk Constabulary’s cold case team, which was set up in August 2008 to investigate murders, missing people and serious sexual offences which have not yet been resolved.

Anyone with information should email coldcaseteam@norfolk.pnn.police.uk or call the team on 101.

The 2012 publication of The Lost Years – The Story of April Fabb is now available, priced at £10, with £1.50 post and packing, and can be ordered through 01603 744226, email Maurice@redbridgebooks.co.uk or through book shops via ISBN 978-0-9520192-7-5. The 13-year-old, who was born in Metton, Norfolk, left her home to visit her sister in Roughton at about 1.40pm on Tuesday, April 8 1969.

Just after 2pm, an employee at Harrison’s Farm saw April riding her cycle along Roughton Road, Metton in the direction of Roughton. This was the last known sighting of April whose bike was spotted lying in a field on the Metton to Roughton Road just a few hundred yards from where she was last seen. A two to three mile area was searched and enquiries made with her family and friends. The enquiry was extremely thorough with 1971 statements taken and 419 House to House questionnaires completed.

Although numerous lines of enquiry were pursued April has never been seen since and a number of potential suspects have been eliminated as the result of the investigation.

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Chief Constable’s foreword

It’s now more than 43 years since April Fabb disappeared from her family home in North Norfolk, much has changed since then and the county and country are a very different place from the one she would have recognised as a 13 year old girl.

The massive impact that such a tragic event had on the rural community of Metton and the suffering and anguish April’s family have to endure cannot be underestimated. For over four decades the family have remained stoical, courageous and ever hopeful. Their dignity and unfailing support of the police enquiries should be admired.

The April Fabb investigation is probably one of the most well known unsolved cases in the county in modern times. To this day, so long after her tragic disappearance, I am heartened by the fact that we continue to receive useful information from members of the public and April’s name still resonates in the media.

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