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Tuesday 19th August 2003
Genette Tate Search 25 Years Old
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After 25 years of investigations, the cause of Genette's vanishing has still not been explained.
The divorced parents of a Devon schoolgirl who vanished from a country lane 25 years ago have made separate pilgrimages to the spot where she disappeared.
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FACTS

Genette was 13 when she was last seen.

All the original police team members investigating the mystery have now retired.

The Genette file has grown so large it is now kept in a 12 foot by 10 foot document cage.

In recent years the police investigation focused on child killer Robert Black.

Now, with the advances in DNA and other forensic techniques, a team of 20 officers is looking for the vital clue that could finally solve the mystery.
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Genette Tate was a 13-year-old newspaper delivery girl when she went missing in Within Lane, in sight of her home village of Aylesbeare, east Devon.

It is thought she vanished from the lane shortly after 1530 BST on Saturday, 19 August 1978.

Genette's Mum Sheila Cook
Genette's mother Sheila Cook has not visited the site for 24 years
At about that time on Wednesday 19th, 25 years later, Genette's mother Sheila Cook and her husband Bob, walked hand in hand to the spot in the lane where Genette's bike and newspapers were found by friends.

"We felt we had to be here after 25 years," said Mrs Cook, who lives near Bristol. "I know the police are working very hard to solve it, they are making huge efforts."

It was Mrs Cook's first visit to the lane since the first anniversary of Genette's disappearance. She said she had made the trip to Devon to support her former husband, Genette's father John Tate, 61, who had travelled from his home in Greece to mark the anniversary.

Enthusiastic
Earlier in the day, less than 100 yards from his then home village of Aylesbeare, Devon, Mr Tate said: "I am much more enthusiastic the police are going to find the answer to this."

Mr Tate, who uses a wheelchair and who now lives in Greece, said he had been given new hope after Genette's DNA was found last year on one of her jumpers kept by Sheila.

The Lane where Genette's bike was found
Within Lane where Genette's bike was found
He added: "I am very pleased with the way the police are dealing with it, and they have up to 20 officers working on the case.

"If they do find a body they will know within hours whether it is Genette," he added.

Mr Tate said being back at the site of his daughter's disappearance brought back "lots of memories and mixed emotions".

He said: "The big regret is not seeing her getting married. I would have loved to have seen her coming down the aisle in a white gown.

"I would have loved to have had grandchildren as well."

Both parents believe their daughter is no longer alive.

1978
Detective Superintendent Nigel Boulton, who was 16 when Genette Tate disappeared, said the investigation would continue "as long as there is something positive to inquire into".

Sheila Cook
Sheila Cook, Genette's mother, poses with her bike in 1988
Dark-haired Genette was 13 when she was last seen in Within Lane, near the village of Aylesbeare, East Devon, on 19th August 1978.

She was delivering newspapers when she was seen by friends in the lane, a few miles east of Exeter.

A few minutes later they came across her bicycle and newspapers lying in the road but there was no sign of Genette.

Thousands of people turned out to search the countryside for the schoolgirl but without success.

All the original police team members investigating the mystery have now retired, and at one time a single officer was in charge of the case files.

The search
Thousands of people turned out to search the countryside.
Over the years, the Genette file has grown so large it is now kept in a 12 foot by 10 foot document cage at Devon and Cornwall Police headquarters.

The mountain of paperwork includes more than 20,000 cards in a filing system.

But now, with the advances in DNA and other forensic techniques, a team of 20 officers is looking for the vital clue that could finally solve the mystery.

Detective Superintendent Boulton took over the inquiry about 15 months ago. He described as a "major breakthrough" the DNA profile of Genette obtained about a year ago from an item of clothing kept by her mother Sheila.

The genetic fingerprint now gives the Devon and Cornwall Police team the potential to see whether it can find a match on items belonging to suspects it investigates.

DNA
New investigations are being based on advances in DNA technology.
In recent years the police investigation has focused on child killer Robert Black, who in 1994 was sentenced to 10 life sentences for the abduction and murder of three young girls, and the attempted abduction of a 15-year-old girl.

Black was interviewed by Devon and Cornwall detectives in 1996 and 1998 but denied abducting Genette.

Detective Superintendent Boulton said no decision had been made about any further interview with Black. "There are other lines of inquiry I am pursuing as well as those of a forensic nature," he said.
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