How Soham killer Ian Huntley was snared by police after he changed his car tyres and quizzed cops about DNA

How Soham killer Ian Huntley was snared by police after he changed his car tyres and quizzed cops about DNA

IAN Huntley made five key mistakes which led to his arrest for the murders of Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman, a new documentary reveals.

The 45-year-old school caretaker killed the ten-year-old girls at his house in Soham, Cambridgeshire, in August 2002.

Ian Huntley gave cops five key signs he was responsible for the sickening murders of Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman, according to a new TV documentary
AFP – Getty
Holly Wells was just ten years old when she was murdered by Huntley at his house in Soham
Jessica Chapman had gone with Holly to a shop to buy sweets on the day the pair vanished – their bodies were found less than a fortnight later
Manni Masons Pictures

Now a new Channel 5 documentary says there were five particular signs that he was involved in the crime that gave led to police catching him.

They included asking a cop how long DNA lasted for and getting new tyres for his Ford Fiesta after dumping the girls’ bodies in woodland.

The documentary also shows police admitting that it was a mistake to issue the famous photo of Wells and Chapman wearing Manchester United shirts.

They say the image triggered worldwide public interest which placed an enormous amount of pressure on the investigation.


Holly and Jessica were at a family barbecue when they walked to a nearby shop for sweets.

Their bodies were found nearly two weeks later in a ditch.

Huntley refused to plead guilty to the crime, but he was eventually sentenced to 40 years in prison.

His girlfriend, Maxine Carr, a teaching assistant at the girls’ school, was imprisoned for three-and-a-half-years for perverting the course of justice.

Detective Chief Superintendent Chris Stevenson, who worked as the lead investigator on the case after the girls vanished, was interviewed for the new documentary called Five Mistakes that Caught a Killer.

He said on the show: “It is easy to look back in hindsight and see that by using the media to publicise the disappearance of these two girls and spread it almost worldwide was a mistake.

“One of the first things I did when I took over was to refocus the investigation into the immediate locality.

“It is a standard phrase to clear the ground under your feet and I didn’t feel that that had been done.”


The first mistake Huntley made, according to the programme, was that he started to enjoy talking to the media.

His publicity backfired in his hometown of Grimsby in Lincolnshire, where locals recognised him as someone who had been linked with sex attack on women.

Carr also spoke about the girls in the past tense while speaking with the BBC, causing the interview to be restarted.

Huntley’s second error involved Jessica’s mobile phone, which was off the day she vanished.

Signal from the phone showed it was at Huntley’s house at the time.

The third mistake was Carr telling cops she’d been with Huntley the whole day when the girls went missing, but phone records showed she was 100 miles away in Grimsby.

His fourth mistake was Huntley asking Special Constable Sharon Gilbert how long DNA lasts for — she said: “I just thought it was strange, very strange.”

Police think he then went to the woods where he buried their bodies, cut off their football shirts and tried to burn them to get rid of evidence.

He put the shirts in a bin at the girls’ school thinking that because cops had already searched the school they wouldn’t do so again.

But they did, and police found the Manchester United tops “in such a condition that there really was no hope of finding the girls alive”, Ms Gilbert said.

Huntley’s final error was putting new tyres on his old car after dumping the bodies.

Police were suspicious and found chalk under his Ford Fiesta which matched the chalk on the lane leading to the burial site in the woods.

Huntley: Five Mistakes that Caught a Killer is on Channel 5 at 10pm tomorrow.

Maxine Carr, who was Huntley’s girlfriend at the time of the murders, raised investigators’ suspicions when she said she was with him on the day the girls’ vanished, but phone records said she was 100 miles away

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