8 April 2002
***Local Girl Disappears, Feared Abducted***
Police are searching for clues related to the disappearance of Jenny Wilcroft, 16, of Lower Crompford, Herts. She went missing last Thursday on her way home from St. Terence's High School, and has not been seen since. Police are very concerned about the apparent lack of eye-witnesses, as the girl's route home from school was largely along busy main roads. Charles and Hermione Crompford, the girl's parents have appealed to anyone to come forward with any message they may have. The mother sent out a personal appeal on local radio, "Jen, if you can here this, please come home, or contact us somehow. We're so worried." Police will be staging a reconstruction of the schoolgirl's route home to be broadcast on this month's Crimewatch UK programme, in the hope that this will jog the memory of any witnesses.
These stories always get to me - they're always the same. Some poor girl has gone missing, hasn't been heard from for several days. Police appeals, sniffer dogs, teams walking through bushes and fields, divers dredging ponds. It's all so sad. The worst part is the tearful parents, with their personal appeals to their lost loved one. "If you're listening..." - it's the doomed hope that bring the tears welling up. Because these stories are always the same. They never come running home. They get found in a ditch or under a patio.
***Jenny Still Missing***
Hertfordshire police still have no solid leads in the search for missing schoolgirl Jenny Wilcroft, 16. Charles Wilcroft, the girl's father, has appeared on television to appeal for witnesses to come forward. He read part of a letter written by the missing girl's younger brother, Billy. "Please come home, Jen. I really really miss you. Mum is very sad and cries a lot. If you come back, I promise to be nice and make you tea, and tidy up your room." The father broke down in front of the cameras. Police now suspect that Jenny went voluntarily with someone she knew, and are examining messages the girl wrote in internet chat rooms. If you have any information relating to the disappearance of Jenny Wilcroft, please phone Duty Officer Paul Bailey at Dunston Police Station.
By the last round of witness appeals, after the Crimewatch leads have dried up, you begin to see the physical manifestations of a total loss of hope. It's mostly just a blank stare in the mother's eyes. Too tired to cry any more. Just lost. The total inability to resolve the huge trauma leaves the family in a state of purgatory. With no more hope, they just wait to find the body, to find out what happened. With no more hope, it's like they'll never be truly happy again.
Dear Mum, Dad, and Billy,
I don't know how to explain why I left - I know it must have been hell for you. If I'd been able to, I would have contacted you sooner. If I had been brave enough, I would have told you before I left, to give some sort of warning, to even slightly prepare you, but I couldn't. I guess that was part of the problem. I know this is not the best way to go about all this, so I will stop trying to explain it right now. Just please believe that it was something I simply had to do.
The reason why I'm writing now is to tell that I'm ok, and please don't worry about me too much. I'm safe and happy. I just felt distant at home, and I had to get away. I don't know if that explains it. But please be happy in the fact that I am very safe and well and the happiest I've ever been. I will always love you, xxx.
When Mum reads that, there is total relief. While there are suddenly many more questions, the main thing is that the big one has been answered - she's OK. The effect is remarkable, the family gets its life back together again. That's what the key difference is: the hope is back, so the life is back. We're in the business of returning life to those who have lost all hope.
The way it works is this: We hear about a case of "disappearance". We know how long it usually takes for the hope to start waning. This is when we approach the Dad. By this stage he will be at a loss as to how to keep the Mum's hope alive somehow, as that is the only way he can see of keeping her sane while the search is still on. He will receive a simple envelope containing a brief description of what we do, our prices, and how he contacts us. Admittedly, we are a young business, but so far every Dad we've contacted has hired us.
Dear Mum and Dad,
This is just a quick note to say that I am fine. I will probably not be able to contact you for a while, as I've found myself a conservation job (what I've always wanted to do) on a remote nature reserve, and there's no way for getting messages in or out. But please remember that I'm happy and I've been keeping myself well, so there's no need to worry. I'll be in touch as soon as I'm able. All my love, xxx
Our service can go on for years. As soon as we are contacted and receive the down-payment, the research begins. And soon we have enough to construct the first letter. Our psychology and handwriting experts have never let us down, and Mums have been consistently duped. Every so often we send another, building up a story that matches the profile of the Missing One (MO), but ensuring that the Mum can never try and contact them. The Dads are always on hand to discourage this, with our support, of course. Here at False Hopes Ltd, we are very very thorough.
We always stop when the body turns up.