‘We will be knocking on doors to establish what people know about this case’ – Police urge Watton people to make contact about Johanna Young murder

Johanna Young who was murdered in 1992. Johanna Young who was murdered in 1992.

Saturday, December 28, 2013
4:45 PM

Police investigating the death of a Watton teenager 21 years ago have vowed to get to the bottom of the mystery after taking an “unprecedented” number of telephone calls with information.

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What happened when?

Johanna left her home in Merton Road, Watton at 7.30pm on a cold and foggy December 23, 1992.

Between 7.30pm and 8.45pm there were sighting of Johanna including outside Mr Chips fish and chip shop in Watton High Street at 8.15pm.

On Christmas Eve Johanna’s 6am alarm went off –she is not there to switch it off and does not turn up for her paper round at 7am. Her parents report her missing to the police and a search is launched.

A dog walker on Griston Road, Watton, found Johanna’s trainers in the undergrowth on Boxing Day.

At 8.20pm officers found Johanna’s body in a water-filled pit near the edge of Wayland Wood and a police murder inquiry was launched.

In 1993 a number of people were questioned in relation to Johanna’s death, including her ex-boyfriend Ryan Firman, but no one is charged.

The EDP later received an anonymous postcard which shows a rough sketch of a motorcycle with stick drawings of a man and girl standing alongside. It carries the words ‘Griston Road, Watton’, the date December 23 and the time 9pm - about 45 minutes after the teenager was seen outside Mr Chips.

In May 1998 a new DNA database gave police chiefs fresh hope it would help them with their investigation.

In December 2010 a new cold cases section is launched on Norfolk police’s website, including the case of Johanna Young.

Johanna Young, 14, was found half-naked in a water-filled pit near the edge of Wayland Wood on Boxing Day, 1992.

Her murderer was never caught – but after a heartfelt plea earlier this month from Johanna’s parents Carol and Robert Young, detectives from Norfolk police say they now have “several new leads” in their inquiry.

Officers have said all along that someone in the Watton area must know something about the teenager’s death and, while new information is still being reported, they are urging local people to make contact.

Johanna left her home in Merton Road in the town on December 23 at 7.30pm but did not return home that night.

Her parents had assumed she was with friends or her boyfriend, but later became worried when she failed to turn up for her paper round on Christmas Eve.

The police’s unsolved cases team took 11 calls in the first 48-hours of the investigation re-opening on Monday last week – some of which contained new information.

Tony Deacon, a case manager for the inquiry, said the total number of 15 responses was “unprecedented in recent times for cold cases”.

Describing it as a “tremendous response”, Mr Deacon said the number of calls stood well above what would normally be expected for re-appeals for information so long after a death.

But he said: “We will not leave this case on the shelf – we have to get to the bottom of it. We will be knocking on doors to establish what people know about this case.

“I, and Johanna’s parents Robert and Carol, have been greatly encouraged by the information the team have received on this investigation. “We are very grateful for the calls already made to us which have given us several new leads but we would encourage anyone who has not contacted us to consider ringing even if they thought at the time the information was irrelevant.

“We are carefully sifting through information and making sense of it, seeing where we can take anything forward for justice for Johanna.”

Officers have been looking at the information received from the calls and by email to work out what had been looked at in the 1990s by police and what could be re-investigated. All of the telephone calls taken so far are from people originally from the Watton and Dereham areas.

Many had not spoken to the police before and were revealing new information.

Other people’s information may already have been

known but police may look at it again.

Police have urged anyone with information to come forward and said all telephone calls would be dealt with sensitively.

The unsolved case team can be contacted on 01953 424520 or email unsolvedcasereviews@norfolk.pnn.police.uk

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