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Tunbridge Wells garden dig family speak of shock at search for human remains

14:27 18 April 2012

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Jojo Stanley and her children have moved back into the property after the police search failed to uncover remains

A family whose garden was dug up in a search for human remains following a tip-off about the death of a young girl 50 years ago said it has sparked a quest to find out what happened.

Jojo Stanley and her children – who have no connection to the case – were moved out of their home and to a hotel last Sunday as police prepared to begin what could have been a potentially gruesome dig.

Officers from the Kent and Essex Serious Crime Directorate descended on the rear garden of the property in Rankine Road on the Sherwood estate in Tunbridge Wells but, despite a day and a half of digging, they found nothing.

The search was prompted by information given to police relating to a possible crime committed in the late 1950s in which a young woman died.

The property once belonged to a Second World War RAF navigator and speculation surrounding the case suggests one of his nine children came forward claiming a woman called Laura had been buried there.

Other family members said their father was being unfairly implicated in the possible crime.

Ms Stanley, who has a 16-year-old daughter and an autistic son, aged six, said police called an urgent meeting with her five weeks ago and explained they would be searching for human remains.

“I can’t even explain the emotions we went through,” said the 43-year-old.

“It brought up so many questions about what could have happened. I didn’t expect to be hit so hard; I had a horrible feeling for the month leading up to the search. I didn’t want to step foot on that part of the garden.”

Ms Stanley said police had taken aerial shots and carried out extensive work before approaching her.

“The lengths the police went to make me think there has to be some credence behind it all,” she said.

“More than just one person came forward with information. They wouldn’t have wasted money and resources on this unless something had happened.”

Police focused their attentions on an old fish pond in the garden.

“They were very specific about where they were digging, but memories can be distorted so you never know whether that was the right place,” said Ms Stanley.

“I don’t think this is finished business.”

She added: “It will take a while for us to move on from this. I don’t know whether we would’ve moved back had human remains been found.

“I feel a quest to find out what happened to this girl. I don’t take these allegations lightly.”

Ms Stanley, who works in a local school, said there had been a lot of interest from the community about what was happening.

Neighbour Pam Lloyd, 29, said the investigation had come as a shock.

“When I first found out there was a search in the garden I was scared,” she said.

“It was a huge relief when we found out there was nothing found. To be honest though I’m still a bit wary about the whole thing.”

The Kent and Essex Serious Crime Directorate said it has completed the search of the garden but has so far given no further information about the investigation.

Detective Inspector Lee Whitehead, said: “The search of the garden in Rankine Road has been completed and no human remains have been found.

“I would very much like to thank the local residents from Rankine Road and the surrounding area, for their co-operation and patience while we carried out this essential investigative work.”

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