On Boxing Day evening in 1996, best friends Patrick Warren (11) and David Spencer (12) left their Chelmsley Wood (Birmingham) homes to play outside. Patrick left on his brand-new bicycle, which had been a Christmas present, while David was on foot.
The boys had been spotted by a police officer earlier that afternoon playing with another group of children in Meriden Park, where they had been warned by the officer not to play on the frozen pond. After returning home, they told their parents of their plans to visit one of Patrick's brothers that evening.
Derek Warren, another of Patrick's brothers, went looking for the boys the next day when he found out that they had not arrived. The last known sighting of the boys was just after midnight by a petrol station attendant who gave them a packet of biscuits. Patrick's brand-new red Apollo bicycle was found abandoned behind the petrol station near the bins, although the police did not realise that it was his until several weeks later. The petrol station attendant said he saw the boys walking toward the local shopping centre.
They have never been seen since.
*For an in-depth look at this case check out this BBC Article.
Initially, the police treated the disappearance as teenage boys 'running away'. It's been alleged that the boy's working-class background played a part in the lack of police response.
In 2006, the police announced they were "closer than ever" to solving the mystery of what happened to the boys, but despite renewed hope, no one has ever been charged.
After the case was reviewed in 2006, convicted murderer and pedophile Brian Field was named as a suspect; however, police were not able to secure a confession or obtain tangible evidence to connect him to the boys' disappearance.
In 2016, a fresh appeal for information was launched. DCI Caroline Marsh of West Midlands Police stated her belief that both boys had died, and said that the force would never close the case until they learned what had happened to them.
Theories / Possible Leads
Unfortunately, it's widely accepted that the boys were likely victims of foul play.
The last person known to have seen the boys alive (the petrol attendant) reported that he saw the boys walking towards the shopping centre. However, Patrick's bike was found behind the bins at the petrol station. Being a new bike, I doubt that Patrick would have left it there voluntarily - which leaves two options.
The boys were abducted from the petrol station (and the bike was hidden behind a bin.)
The boys were abducted away from the petrol station and the perpetrator drove the bike back.
I would be very interested to hear more from the attendant - and to find out when exactly the bike was first found e.g. a day after the disappearance / on the same day? etc.
Another thing to mention is that the boys were known to be rebellious and it's not out of the question that they could have been lured with the promise of alcohol etc.