HAVING returned from an errand to the shops, six-year-old Carol Ann Stephens “went out to play”.
There was nothing unusual about this, but her parents would never again see their daughter.
Who was Carol Ann Stephens?
Carol Ann Stephens was a cheerful, outgoing young woman who frequently struck up conversations with others.
She was still naive for a six-year-old and would talk to strangers because of this.
The Cardiff schoolgirl had many friends because she frequently played with them outside.
What happened to Carol Ann Stephens?
Carol went to the store on April 7, 1959, to buy her mother some cigarettes and candy.
It was customary at the time for parents to ask their children to purchase such items from stores; this was not unusual.
Often accompanied by a note from the parent, to confirm the purchase was for them and not the child, she returned home with all she had been tasked to buy.
She told her mother that she was going out to play after bringing these things back home.
Her mother told her that she was cooking dinner and not to be long, but recalled she felt she was very anxious to get back out.
Carol Ann Stephens’ friend, Kevin Northcott, told her mum that she had told him she was going for a ride in a car.
After the incident, other friends related how she had been revealing to them that she had a “new uncle” in the weeks before going missing.
It could be considered a big deal for a child to ride in a car because they were still relatively uncommon at the time.
Her companion claimed that he had observed Carol Ann approaching a green vehicle that was parked around the corner and tapping on the passenger side door.
Other witnesses had seen her exiting a green car in the days prior.
The young girl was friendly but her mother had told police that they had told her not to talk to strangers.
Police made an appeal after she didn’t come home and conducted a massive manhunt.
Then on April 2, 1959, the investigation came to an abrupt end.
In Carmarthenshire, close to the hamlet of Horeb, a small ravine was where Carol Ann Stephens’ body was discovered.
She was thought to have died more than a week prior to the body being found because of the overhanging leaves and branches.
Before her body was dumped about 60 miles from where she vanished, she had been sexually assaulted and strangled.
There were no leads at all despite police speaking with 10,000 people, searching 3,000 vehicles, and obtaining more than 1,100 statements.
Following the incident, a campaign was started to educate kids about “stranger danger” and to discourage them from riding in strangers’ cars.
Who was Carol Ann Stephens’ mother?
Carol Ann’s mother, Mavis Stephens, was estranged from her father.
She shared a home with the young girl’s stepfather and her ex-boyfriend at the time.
Police questioned Carol Ann Stephen’s father about the disappearance because he had been seeking custody of his daughter.
He informed the Met Police of the incident, and was able to show that he was in London at the time it occurred.
Numerous witnesses claimed that they had seen the young girl getting in and out of a green car before she was taken.
One evening, a neighbour even claimed to have seen a man peering through their garden wall at Carol Ann’s bedroom.
Despite having this knowledge, police were never able to track down the person who kidnapped and killed Carol Ann Stephens.
Her mother died in 2002, never learning the full story of what happened to her daughter on that tragic day.
On March 9, 2023 at 9 p.m. on ITV1, a new three-part documentary series called Cold Case Detectives will include a segment on the young girl’s murder and disappearance.
The show will be available to watch again on ITVX for those who missed it and would like to catch up.