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THEY'RE BURIED IN WOODGATE VALLEY; Arrest after anonymous letter traced to prison.


POLICE searching for missing schoolboys Patrick Warren and David Spencer have arrested a Birmingham man after tracing an anonymous letter to a prison wing.

The 37-year-old was quizzed by officers on Thursday after they received a letter telling them the boys are buried in Woodgate Valley, Birmingham.

It is understood police with specialist equipment have already carried out a search of the area, which includes housing close to wooded parkland.

The suspect has not been named but he is believed to have recently completed a jail sentence.

The Sunday Mercury can reveal police received the anonymous letter 18 months ago and eventually traced it to a wing in Winson Green Prison. David's mum Christine O'Toole, 40, from Chelmsley Wood, said last night: 'When the police said they had arrested a man, I broke down and cried.

'I don't know how I'll cope if David is dead. He was a bubbly outgoing boy who was always cracking jokes.

'I just want to know what's happened to him. I would like to put him to rest because at the moment I'm in limbo.'

The arrest is the first in a case which has baffled police.

The boys vanished on Boxing Day 1996 after telling their families they planned to spend the night with Paddy's brother, Andy, who lives in Chelmsley Wood.

Despite huge publicity appeals there had never been a confirmed sighting of the two children who would now be young adults.

David and Paddy, as he was known, were dubbed 'the Milk Carton Kids' after their faces became the first to appear on milk cartons in a nationwide appeal by the National Missing Persons Helpline.

For their families, the disappearance has taken a terrible toll.

David's mother has had a nervous breakdown while Paddy's mum, Bridget Warren, 54, suffers from depression to such an extent that she can no longer talk about the case.

Christine recalled how news of the arrest was broken to her last week. She said: 'A police officer visited my home and said he was investigating a letter about the boys.

'It said David and Paddy were buried somewhere in Woodgate Valley.

He told me police had been to the site with a specialist who can tell if the earth had been disturbed. They now plan to return and look again.

'The officer said the letter had gone for handwriting analysis and the postmark had been traced to Winson Green Prison. All we can do now is wait.

'I still remember my last Christmas Day with David. I bought him a pool table and Paddy brought his new bike round in the morning to show him. They spent all day playing on that bike and eating the Christmas leftovers. They were great friends.'

Last night Paddy's sister Tina Warren, 24, from Chelmsley Wood, said: 'This is our worst nightmare come true.

'My mum's really shaken up. Everyone has tried to cling to a glimmer of hope, that's what has kept us going.

'I hope he is still alive but I just want to know. It's not knowing that's the worst thing.'

Paddy's older brother John learnt of the arrest when he arrived for work at Chelmsley Wood Police Station -where he is a cleaner.

He said: 'I heard a police officer talking to the receptionist about the arrest. He didn't know who I was.

'Why didn't they tell the family first before discussing it where any member of the public can hear?'

The suspect was bailed on Friday and now police are understood to be using a handwriting expert to prove who wrote the letter.

A West Midlands Police spokesman said: 'Police investigating the disappearance of missing Birmingham boys David Spencer and Patrick Warren have arrested a 37-year-old man in connection with the investigation.

'He has been bailed while further police enquiries take place.'


MILK CARTON KIDS ... the boys' faces used in a nationwide appeal; LAST PICTURE ... David Spencer (left) and Paddy Warren vanished on Boxing Day seven years ago; BROKE DOWN AND CRIED ... David's mother Christine O'Toole; OUR WORST NIGHTMARE ... Patrick's sister Tina Warren
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Publication:Sunday Mercury (Birmingham, England)
Date:Aug 10, 2003
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