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Soham murders 20th anniversary: What happened to killer Ian Huntley and families of girls he killed

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Today marks 20 years since schoolgirls Jessica Chapman and Holly Wells vanished from a family barbecue and later turned up dead.

The 10-year-old friends left the gathering to buy sweets in Soham, Cambridgeshire, on Sunday 4 August 2002 but never returned.

Their burnt bodies were found in a shallow grave near an RAF air base in Lakenheath, Suffolk, two weeks after they disappeared following a desperate search.

It later transpired Ian Huntley, a caretaker at Soham Village College, had invited the girls into his home as they walked by.

He was eventually found guilty of their murders, while his girlfriend Maxine Carr was convicted of perverting the course of justice by giving him a false alibi.

On the 20th anniversary of the schoolgirls’ murders, we have taken a look at what happened to those connected to the case and where they are now.

Ian Huntley

Ian Huntley gave such suspicious answers in a media interview that the reporter raised his concerns with police (PA) (PA Archive)
Ian Huntley gave such suspicious answers in a media interview that the reporter raised his concerns with police (PA) (PA Archive)

Huntley was a caretaker at Soham Village College, a secondary school in Soham, Cambridgeshire, at the time of the girls’ disappearance.

The killer, originally from Grimsby, was arrested after their bodies were found on 17 August 2002.

He was convicted the following year in 2003 and handed a double life sentence with a minimum of 40 years in jail.

Huntley has been serving his time at HMP Frankland in Durham since 2008 where he is locked up alongside killers Levi Bellfield and Wayne Couzens.

Before that, he was in HMP Wakefield in West Yorkshire where he was scalded with hot water by North Yorkshire serial killer Mark Hobson.

The child killer was targeted by another inmate again in 2010, when convicted armed robber Damien Fowkes slashed his throat.

Huntley won’t be eligible for parole until 2042.

Huntley gave such suspicious answers in an interview with reporter Brian Farmer that the journalist raised his concerns with police (Toby Melville/PA) (PA Archive)
Huntley gave such suspicious answers in an interview with reporter Brian Farmer that the journalist raised his concerns with police (Toby Melville/PA) (PA Archive)

Following his conviction, details were revealed of how Huntley had previously been investigated for sexual offences and burglary.

It also emerged he had a daughter, Samantha Bryan, born following his turbulent relationship with a teenage girl who was eight years younger than him.

The mother, Katie Bryan, moved in with Huntley when she was only 15 and he was 23.

Huntley had been married to Claire Evans in 1995 but they later divorced.

She started a relationship with his brother Wayne and the pair married in 2000 but they too divorced in 2005.

The pair divorced in 2005 and she later married again and had two children.

Maxine Carr

Huntley’s girlfriend Maxine Carr was jailed in 2003 (PA Archive)
Huntley’s girlfriend Maxine Carr was jailed in 2003 (PA Archive)

Huntley’s then-girlfriend Maxine Carr was sentenced to three and a half years in prison in 2003 after she was found guilty of conspiring to pervert the course of justice by giving him a false alibi.

Carr had recently left her job as a teaching assistant in Jessica’s and Holly’s class at St Andrew’s Primary School at the time.

The High Court made an injunction to protect her new identity in 2005, with Mr Justice Eady saying such an order was “necessary to protect life and limb and psychological health”.

She was released on probation and given a new secret identity on 14 May, 2004, after serving 21 months.

Kevin and Nicola Wells

Holly’s father Kevin Wells said the stress following their daughter’s murder almost led to the break-up of her parents (PA)
Holly’s father Kevin Wells said the stress following their daughter’s murder almost led to the break-up of her parents (PA)

The parents of Holly Wells have often spoken out about their loss and how they have tried to put the past behind them and move on with their lives for the sake of the schoolgirl’s older brother Oliver, who was 12 years old when she disappeared.

The Wells family still live in Soham. They briefly moved out of the family home but in 2015 it was reported the couple had moved back in.

It was also reported at the time that the couple had become grandparents as their son Oliver, who worked for the family cleaning business, and his girlfriend Lydia Chambers had an 18-month-old son and a second child on the way.

In an interview with the Radio Times in 2012, Holly’s brother said he thought about his sister frequently.

He told the publication: “I wish I could see her now, see what she’d have looked like.

“We do chat about her quite regularly, which I think is a very nice thing. It’s strange being three of us, when there used to be a fourth.”

In a 2015 anniversary article, the Daily Mail reported the Wells and Chapman families were understood to have remained close.

Mr Wells previously told an ITV documentary that the stress following their daughter’s murder almost led to the break-up of their marriage.

The father, who runs his own window cleaning business, has since become a founding patron of the charity Grief Encounter, which he said helped the family with their loss.

Sharon and Leslie Chapman

Sharon and Leslie Chapman have rarely spoken publicly about their daughter’s murder (PA)
Sharon and Leslie Chapman have rarely spoken publicly about their daughter’s murder (PA)

The parents of Jessica Chapman have rarely spoken publicly since their daughter’s death.

However they broke their silence in 2012 to hail the first anniversary of the Police National Database – introduced to close gaps in information-sharing between police forces.

Leslie Chapman had been due to start a new engineering job the day after his daughter disappeared but it didn’t begin for months.

Sharon Chapman worked at the same primary school Jessica and Holly went to, and the same school Carr worked at. She returned to the job in the years following her daughter’s murder.

Jessica also had two older sisters - Rebecca and Alison - but little is known about them as they were shielded from public view.

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