- The Washington Times - Sunday, August 18, 2002

LONDON Authorities in England arrested a man and woman yesterday on suspicion of killing 10-year-olds Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman, just hours before a resident found two bodies about 10 miles from the girls' hometown.
The developments have dashed the hopes of a nation that believed the girls still could be alive, despite their high-profile disappearance 13 days ago.
A 28-year-old man, identified by BBC News as school caretaker Ian Huntley, and his 25-year-old girlfriend, identified as Maxine Carr, a teaching assistant, have been held on suspicion of murdering the girls.
"As I speak, neither Jessica nor Holly have been found," Detective Chief Inspector Andy Hebb said yesterday morning, speaking to reporters in Soham, the girls' small community 70 miles north of London.
However, two bodies were found later in the day by a resident outside nearby Mildenhall. Police are working to identify the bodies.
Investigators recovered "items of major interest" from Soham Village College, where Mr. Huntley lived and worked. The items will be examined by a forensics team, a process that the inspector said "will likely take a considerable period of time."
He declined to give further details because the two suspects have not been charged and were being questioned yesterday. Earlier in the investigation, it was determined that the girls spoke to Mr. Huntley at his house about an hour before their disappearance.
It is the first time police have raised the possibility that the girls are dead.
"I have been clinging for the last two weeks to the hope that Jessica and Holly would be found alive, clinging to the hope that they would be starting school in September in their final year at St. Andrew's," the girls' tearful head teacher, Geoff Fisher, told the BBC.
Britain has been captivated and horrified by the story of Holly and Jessica since the pair vanished while walking around their village about 7:30 p.m. Aug. 4. A $1.5 million reward was put together, and members of the Manchester United soccer team made an appeal for help. (Both the girls were wearing team jerseys emblazoned with star David Beckham's name when they disappeared.)
More than 400 police officers took part in the investigation, making it one of the biggest manhunts in British history. Candlelit vigils were held in the town, and detectives received about 14,000 tips from the public.
Hours before the arrests, the girls' parents made their own appeal Friday, one of the many made over British airwaves in recent days.
After news broke of the arrests, international messages of condolence filled the Soham village Web site.
"Words cannot express the feelings that the entire country must be feeling at this moment in time. My heartfelt sympathy goes out to the parents of dear Jessica and Holly," wrote one person.

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