Fresh hope for Watton community as man is arrested over Johanna Young’s death

A framed picture of Johanna Young hangs in her parents home. Picture: Ian Burt A framed picture of Johanna Young hangs in her parents home. Picture: Ian Burt

Friday, April 25, 2014
12:34 PM

Detectives are today still questioning a man who has been arrested in connection with the death of Johanna Young whose body was found on Boxing Day, 1992.

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Johanna Young murder picturesJohanna Young murder pictures

The tragedy of Johanna Young is a story which has been etched deeply into the consciousness of the town of Watton.

Even those not old enough to remember that cold and foggy December night in 1992 have been told about the teenager whose lonely death was never explained.

But after painful years of unanswered questions hopes were finally raised yesterday that police could be one step closer to solving that mystery.

Yesterday’s arrest of a man in his 40s, from the Watton area, in connection with the death is potentially the first breakthrough in the case for two decades.

Last night, detectives were given extra time to question the man, who has not been named. He will remain in police custody while inquiries continue.

Johanna’s mother, Carol, said she did not want to discuss the arrest,but was “hopeful” it could finally lead to a resolution of the uncertainty which her family had endured for 21 years.

The news was also cautiously welcomed by a community who have shared in the grief of Johanna’s parents.

Jan Godfrey was the acting headteacher at Wayland High School when Johanna, a year 10 pupil, was killed.

She said everyone in the town still remembered where they were on the night of the “chilling” death.

“For any community to have such an unresolved event for such a long time, it’s awful,” she said. “And especially for her family to have lived with it and wondering about it.

“It had a huge impact on the school, everyone was so upset.”

Watton’s mayor Lorraine McCarthy’s business is on Griston Road, just yards away from where the teenager’s body was found.

She knew Johanna’s parents well and said the death of their daughter cast a “dark cloud” over the town.

“Nobody knew or had any idea about what had happened,” she said.

“We are only a small town, so everyone feels the impact of that night.’’

Breckland Council leader Michael Wassell, who lives in Charles Avenue, shares the distinct memory of the day Johanna’s body was discovered.

“I certainly remember those terrible events,” he said. “My daughter Karen and her boyfriend were interviewed by the police because they were in the area at the time. They didn’t see anything, but they put themselves forward to be interviewed as part of the inquiry.

“I didn’t know Johanna or her family, but it did have an effect on the town because it was an ongoing situation for so long.”

Speaking of the arrest, he added: “It won’t bring her back, but at the end of the day we all want justice for whoever did that terrible thing to Johanna.”

A retired policeman who worked on the initial stages of the investigation into Johanna Young’s death 21 years ago said he was “cautiously optimistic” that yesterday’s arrest could finally lead to the resolution of the case.

Sgt Mark Goodbody served for more than 30 years with Norfolk police, mostly in Breckland.

On his retirement in October, he said the most harrowing memory of his career was the inquiry into the death of the teenager who went missing on December 23, 1992. He was a detective constable then, and was involved in the inquiry for eight months. After leaving the constabulary he said his greatest regret was that the investigation had not brought a result.

After hearing of the arrest, he said: “I am certainly very interested and very curious to hear how this develops.

“I suppose I initially thought it was good news, but you always have to treat these things with caution. It would be silly to get your hopes up too much, because we are a long way away from any resolution. All we have got is an arrest, and as a retired officer, without knowing the strength of the evidence, it is hard to comment further.

“But I am very pleased that there has been some development and cautiously hopeful that it could lead to a resolution.”

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