Lee O’Toole was just nine years old when his brother David Spencer went out to play with his friend Patrick Warren on Boxing Day 1996 and never returned.
Now as the 20th anniversary of the boys’ disappearance nears, Lee is hoping someone will come forward with fresh information about what happened to his brother and friend that Christmas.
Lee, now aged 29, and a father himself, still suffers nightmares about the day his brother David, then aged 13, disappeared from his home in Chelmsley Wood, with 11-year-old Patrick Warren.
The boys had told their families that they were staying at each other’s houses and went out on 26 December 1996 taking Patrick’s prized Christmas present, a red Apollo mountain bike.
When they didn’t return, police were informed and an investigation started, but despite extensive enquiries, numerous appeals and searches over the next two decades, David Spencer and Patrick Warren have never been found.
(David Spencer, left & Patrick Warren, right)
Lee, who had a very close relationship with David, was and remains devastated about what happened and says he spent evening after evening searching the local streets for his brother and Patrick in the weeks that followed their disappearance.
Today he says he still cannot rest until he finds out what happened to them.
He said: “I’ve come to terms with the fact David is dead but I wake every night wondering what happened to him and how he died. I just want to find him so he can be laid to rest and we can have somewhere to go and visit him.
“This time of year is very hard, December 14 was David’s birthday, he would have been 33 and then Christmas just brings back memories of him vanishing.
“I remember David as a cheeky little rogue, he wasn’t an angel but he always looked after me, we were really close and went everywhere together.
“He had started boxing and was really talented, he used to spend his time training and practising.
“After all these years I just want to know where David is. If something terrible has happened, if I know about it at least I can grieve, I’m in limbo at the moment not knowing what happened. I would like to give him a proper funeral and have a special place that I can visit. That is important to me and his brother, to know that we could go and see him.
“Even if it is bad news, I would rather know. Any piece of information, however little, could make the difference to the police so that they can find my brother.
“Anybody who knows anything about the boys and where they are, can they please come forward. Someone out there is bound to know something – bad or good – they just need to let police know.”
Lee has given permission for the first moving footage taken of David at a boxing match to be shown in the hope it might jog someone’s memory about what happened to the youngster.
On Boxing Day afternoon 1996, the boys were seen by a police officer together with a group of their friends playing on Meriden Lake, which was, at the time frozen. The boys were told to go home and warned of the dangers of playing on the lake.
They then went home and told David’s family that they were staying at Patrick’s brother’s house.
The last sighting of them was at the Shell petrol station in Chelmsley Wood just after midnight, where they were given a packet of biscuits by the assistant.
The boys were reported missing in the early hours of the next day – 27 December 1996.
Later, Patrick’s Christmas present, a red Apollo bicycle, was discovered at the back of the petrol station. It was hidden in an area used for storing commercial bins.
Since the day they were reported missing, West Midlands Police has regularly asked for the boys, or anyone with any information about their whereabouts, or anyone who knows what has happened to them to come forward.
Sadly, they have never been found. The boys have been missing for almost 20 years without making any contact with their families and without any evidence to show that they are still alive.
(David, left, with brothers John, middle & Lee, right)
Detective Chief Inspector Caroline Marsh, the senior investigating officer, said:
“We remain committed to bringing closure for the families of David and Patrick whose lives have been irrevocably changed by their lengthy disappearance.
“The investigation into the disappearance of Patrick Warren and David Spencer continues. The case has been reviewed several times and detectives remain ready to re-investigate should new information come to light.
“Those boys went out to play on Boxing Day 1996 and have not returned home since. Our quest to find out what has happened to them continues and officers continue to work on all the previous lines of enquiry plus any new ones.
“Our thoughts are with the families as the 20th anniversary approaches, and we continue to support them through our family liaison officers.
“Until we find out what happened to David and Patrick, this investigation will never close.
“Anyone, with any piece of information, however small they might consider it to be, should contact the police. That piece of information could ultimately lead to us finding out what has happened to Patrick and David and bring some peace to their families.”
Source:: West Midlands Police News