Letter clue in mystery of missing Christine

AN ANONYMOUS letter- writer may hold the key to the mystery which surrounds the fate of a nine-year-old girl who disappeared over 30 years ago.

Detectives investigating the disappearance of Scunthorpe girl Christine Markham have received a letter which "may be helpful" to their inquiries – 33 years after she went missing.

The letter was addressed to Det Sgt Craig Scott, who issued a fresh appeal for information last May and who is now asking its author to contact him.

He said: "I would like to thank the person for the letter they have sent to me, but it is really important that I speak to them personally.

"I wish to reassure them that all information they give me will be treated with sensitivity and they can contact me in confidence."

Police have declined to reveal the contents of the

letter, but it is thought its author claims insight into a case that has baffled detectives since 1973.

Christine's disappearance was one of a number previously linked to child-killer Robert Black, who is serving life for several child murders, including that of Morley schoolgirl Sarah Harper. Her body has never been found.

The letter was sent through the post, but its origin is not known as the postmark on the envelope has been smudged.

Christine's family have been informed of the development. A spokeswoman for Humberside Police said officers were being careful not to raise the family's hopes in case the lead petered out.

She said: "Until this person comes forward and tells us more, it's not clear how significant it is. We wouldn't wish Christine's family to think it's a significant breakthrough, but it's information sent to us by someone who claims to have knowledge of the case and on that basis we need to investigate further whether the author is an important witness."

Christine was reported missing from her home in Robinson Road, Scunthorpe, at 9.30pm on Monday, May 21, 1973.

She had left home at 8.30am that day to attend Henderson Avenue Junior School but failed to arrive.

Christine walked part of the way to school with two of her siblings, who then caught a bus to another school that they attended.

They say they looked through the bus window and saw Christine turn around and walk back in the direction they came from.

Christine had been known to take odd days off school and wander around the area.

A major investigation was launched and searches continued in Scunthorpe over several months. About 5,000 homes in the area were searched during the inquiry, while officers took about 2,000 statements.

Information from the original investigation has been digitised and placed on the new Home Office major inquiry system.