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Mother of missing girl April Fabb dies without ever knowing what happened to her

PUBLISHED: 12:00 25 April 2013

Olive Fabb with one of April's dolls, pictured in 2002.

Olive Fabb with one of April's dolls, pictured in 2002.

The mother of April Fabb, whose unexplained disappearance 44 years ago is one of Norfolk’s biggest unsolved mysteries, has died aged 93.

Just like her husband Albert, who passed away in 1998, Olive died without ever knowing what happened to her 13-year-old daughter.

The happy youngster vanished into thin air while cycling near her family home close to Cromer in April 1969. Her bike was found in a field, but no trace of April. A major police investigation and decades of cold case work has failed to find who was responsible.

But throughout the living nightmare of losing a daughter Mrs Fabb was a rock for surviving sisters Pam, now 71, and Diane, 64. Their mother tried to live as normal a life as possible, and dealt with constant Press attention with dignity and strength.

Diane said: “Mum and dad’s world stopped that beautiful spring day in April 1969.

April’s story

April Fabb was last seen cycling from her home in Metton to her sister’s house in nearby Roughton two miles away.

Her mission was to deliver a packet of cigarettes to her brother-in-law as a belated birthday present.

The shy, animal-loving schoolgirl was spotted by a tractor driver as she rode along the lane in the sunshine at 2.06pm on Tuesday April 8 1969, having left home just before 1.40pm.

At 2.12pm her blue and white BSA bicycle was found in a field. There no tracks, suggesting it had been thrown there.

April had disappeared into thin air in those six short minutes.

It was only when she failed to return home at dusk the family become worried.

They phoned local hospitals fearing an accident. Then the police, sparking a huge search involving dogs and helicopters and local volunteers, and the biggest ever investigation seen in Norfolk resulting in inquires as far afield as Australia.

Convicted child killers have been quizzed, but no links found.

Renewed appeals on the anniversaries of her disappearance prompted new leads, but they came to nothing.

April’s mystery remains an open cold case.

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 still 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.

“But for our sake they tried to live a normal life.

“Mum was the stronger one - an amazing woman. I would have lost my mind, but she never lost her Christian faith which helped her through.”

April’s toy doll, brush and comb set were always with Mrs Fabb as a reminder of her missing daughter.

Maurice Morson, the former head of Norfolk CID who wrote a book about April’s story, called The Lost Years, said: “Olive was a remarkable woman. She had 44 years of agony, and the sadness is she died not knowing. But she bore it with great courage, dignity and stoicism, and clung on to feint hope.”

Ex Det Chief Supt Morson said of all the cold cases he inherited April’s was the one that “grabs you” - because it was a “complete mystery how a girl can disappear in a few minutes on a open county road.”

Mr and Mrs Fabb were “two of the nicest people I met in all my police service” he added.

He pointed out the poignancy that April’s birthday, disappearance and Olive’s passing, were all in April.

April would have been 58 on April 22. She disappeared on April 8. Olive died peacefully at the Pine Heath Nursing Home in High Kelling on April 19.

Olive’s early life was spent in service to the Reads flour mill family on Newmarket Road, Norwich. She met Albert when her parents Arthur and Pat Mallett ran the Three Pigs pub at Edgefield.

They set up home at Metton in 1952. While he was a building labourer for H Bullen an Sons, Olive was the homemaker, and helped out at the local vicarage and church.

They later moved to Brownshill at Cromer, and she later went on to Meadow Close. She died peacefully at the Pine Heath Nursing Home in High Kelling on April 19.

A funeral service will be held on May 10 at Metton church, which is the resting place for Albert’s ashes and the location of a memorial stone to April, paid for by the proceeds of The Lost Years book.

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