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Thread: UK - Sheila Fox, 6, Bolton England, 18 Aug 1944

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Sep 2004

    UK - Sheila Fox, 6, Bolton England, 18 Aug 1944

    Sheila Fox
    Missing since August 18, 1944 from Bolton, Greater Manchester, United Kingdom.
    Classification: Endangered Missing

    Vital Statistics
    Age at Time of Disappearance: 6 years old
    Clothing: Blue flowered frock, green coat, stockings and shoes. She had pink ribbons in her hair.

    Circumstances of Disappearance
    Sheila Fox was last seen after leaving St James's Primary School in New Bury, Farnworth, Bolton on August 18, 1944.

    It was Friday afternoon and that brought the prospect of two days playing out with her New Bury mates, two days of hide-and-seek and skipping.

    As Sheila planned her weekend fun and games, so the country's leaders were putting the preparations together for the final push that would win the Second World War.
    But Sheila Fox would never celebrate the repatriation of France and demise of the German forces.

    And she would never taste the jelly and sandwiches served at street parties around the town, as residents later celebrated the end of the war.

    At some point as she made her way home to her family's house on Macdonald Avenue, New Bury, Sheila Fox disappeared, never to be seen again.
    Within hours of reports that she was missing an exhaustive search of the Farnworth area began.

    Young playmates of Sheila told how they had seen their friend riding on the crossbar of a mystery man's bicycle.

    Another school friend said she had seen Sheila walking with a man. Her young pal even asked Sheila where she was going. The six-year-old girl is said to have replied: "I am going with this man."

    That night police and neighbours combed the district, shouting her name in a desperate bid to find the little girl. Air raid shelters and farm buildings were scoured as the volunteers continued their hunt and hedgerows and fields were systematically searched as fears for Sheila's safety mounted. Over the weekend, the County Police were joined by air raid wardens and Army cadets as their search was stepped up. The hunt went on throughout the weekend, unbroken.

    After the Bolton Evening News carried reports of her disappearance, other readers came forward to claim they had seen a child on the cross bars of a bike being ridden by a man. It was the same information that had been passed on from Sheila's seven-year-old friend.

    By the end of August several cyclists, who had given rides to children on their bikes on the day of Sheila's disappearance had been ruled out of the inquiry after contacting police officers.

    But one cyclist had still not been tracked down.

    The man had been riding on Newbrook Road, Atherton, with a little girl on the cross bar who wore a green dress and had ribbons in her hair. Witnesses claimed the child was aged five or six and the cyclist had headed off towards Leigh, riding past Atherton Parish Church.

    In 2001, British detectives began digging up a garden of a house that stands on the route that six-year-old Sheila Fox would have taken as she walked home from school 57 years ago. They acted on a tip off that a man had been seen digging in a back garden in the Farnworth area after midnight around the time that the girl went missing. The digging was witnessed by a neighbour who was a schoolboy at the time, and now in his seventies, the knowledge preyed on his mind.

    Authorities have established that the man who dug the hole was Richard Ryan, a convicted rapist, who died 12 years ago.

    The dig is the latest twist in a mystery that left many people baffled during the war. Sheila, the youngest of five children, was reported to have last been seen on the handlebars of a bicycle ridden by a man. The dig proved unsuccessful.

    Sheila's parents said that she would have had to know the man very well because she was very shy. They always believed that Sheila had tried to head to London, as some of her wartime schoolmates were refugee children from the capital.

    The youngster’s sister Betty said that she could remember a couple commenting on Sheila about three months before she vanished. She said the couple sounded as if they were Londoners, or from the south. She said she had never seen them before or since, but they commented on what a lovely child Sheila was and said they would have liked to take her with them.

    Today, Greater Manchester Police said that, because no body was ever found, the case is still being treated as a missing person inquiry.

    If you have any information concerning this case, please contact: Greater Manchester Police 0161 856 5965
    Crimestoppers 0800 555 111

    Source Information:
    BBC News
    This is Lancashire 6/5/01
    Manchester News 6/5/02
    Manchester News 8/18/04
    The Doe Network: Case File 732DFUK

    Last edited by SheWhoMustNotBeNamed; 04-29-2010 at 10:04 PM. Reason: updated doe network link

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  3. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2004

    60 Year Anniversary Article...

    Manchester News
    Wednesday, 18th August 2004
    Search continues 60 years on
    by Paul Britton

    WHEN six-year-old Sheila Fox failed to arrive home from school one afternoon in wartime Bolton, a huge search operation involving police, air raid wardens and scouts was mounted. But she was never found and her disappearance remains a mystery to this day.

    Today, exactly 60 years on, police confirmed that the long-running investigation is still active and appealed again for anyone with information to come forward. The case is one of Britain's longest unsolved disappearances.

    Known as "the girl in the green mac", Sheila disappeared as she walked home alone from St James's Primary School in New Bury, Farnworth, Bolton, on August 18, 1944. She was the youngest of five children and lived with her family in McDonald Avenue, Farnworth.


    There were several unconfirmed sightings of a girl matching Sheila's description wearing a blue dress and a green coat riding on the handlebars of a man's bike that afternoon.
    Detectives have returned to the case several times. Three years ago, police dramatically dug up the manicured back garden of a semi in nearby Barton Road after a 70-year-old man came forward to reveal that, as a schoolboy, he had seen a man digging the garden at the time.

    The dig, and the new information, was shrouded in mystery but the M.E.N established that the man seen digging was a convicted rapist who had since died. It proved unsuccessful.

    Today, Greater Manchester Police said that, because no body was ever found, the case is still being treated as a missing person inquiry.

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  5. #3
    Join Date
    Sep 2004

    BBC news Article about Sheila Fox

    Thursday, 7 June, 2001, 16:26 GMT 17:26 UK
    Dig for missing girl extended

    Police hunting for a girl who went missing 57 years ago have extended their search in a garden once owned by a convicted rapist. Six-year-old Sheila Fox vanished in August 1944 after leaving her school in Bolton, Greater Manchester. Richard Ryan, a 20-year-old man who was later convicted of rape, lived at the property in Barton Road, which was on the route between Sheila's school and home. No trace of her was found despite a massive search by special constables, air raid wardens and

    Digging began on Tuesday after a witness, who was a young child at the time, said he had seen a man digging in the back garden of a nearby house at midnight. The neighbour, now in his 70s, said it had preyed on his mind, but he had not wanted to start a "wild goose chase". With three days of searching behind them, police officers have now expanded the digging area within the garden. Sheila disappeared as she made the short journey from St James' Primary School to her home on Macdonald Avenue. She was last seen riding on the crossbar of a bike with a man who had befriended her.

    Mysterious disappearance

    Detective Chief Inspector Paul Buchanan, who is leading the inquiry, said the excavation would be a "slow and painstaking process" which would last several days. He said: "The disappearance of Sheila has remained a mystery for over 50 years and this is the first piece of information we have received in that time relating to her

    "It is very early days for this line of inquiry and at this stage I don't want to speculate whether or not we will be successful in our search for Sheila." Police said they hoped the operation might jog the memories of residents who might have information about the girl's disappearance. Officers stressed that the current owner of the house moved to the property long after 1944 and was not connected with the inquiry. Mr Ryan, a miner, died 12 years ago. He moved from the house in 1948, then in 1950, six years after Sheila's disappearance, he was convicted of rape. In 1965 he was charged with indecently assaulting a child.

    BBC News | UK | Dig for missing girl extended


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  7. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Aw I had never heard of Sheilas case. Lets hope that the couple just fell in love with her and took her to London rather than the unspeakable.

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  9. #5
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    Sep 2004

    67 Years Ago...

    Bumping case up. This year will mark the 67th anniversary of this little girl's disappearance.

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