The evening of Wednesday 23 December 1992 was cold and very foggy and Johanna Young, aged 14, left her home at about 7.30pm.
There were several sightings of Johanna heading towards and walking around the Town Centre at Watton between 7.30pm and 8.45pm. After 8.45pm there were no further sightings of Johanna and she did not return home.
Johanna’s parents did not notice that she had not returned home until her alarm went off at 6am the following morning and she did not respond to it.
They assumed she had stayed at her boyfriend’s for the night because of the foggy conditions. It was not until Johanna failed to turn up for her paper round at 7am that the matter was reported to the police.
Due to the unexplained nature of her disappearance, the case received a great deal of local publicity in an effort to find her.
On the afternoon of Saturday 26 December 1992, a member of public was walking his dogs in Griston Road, Watton when he found Johanna’s training shoes in the undergrowth. He reported the find to Watton Police.
A search of the area was commenced and later that evening they found the body of Johanna in a water filled marlpit. The body was approximately 125-140 yards from where her training shoes had been found, Johanna’s body was face down in the water and her lower clothing had been removed, her jeans missing.
Scene of the murder
Her body was covered in scratches and a subsequent post-mortem examination revealed that death was caused by drowning and a fractured skull.
A major investigation took place during 1993 and, despite a number of arrests of local men, nobody has been charged in connection with Johanna’s death.
Police believe the killer of Johanna may be being shielded by a local person or family. Her body was dumped in a gravel pit in Watton likely to have been known only to locals. It was only accessible through dense brambles. ‘We believe the killer must have damaged their clothing in some way dragging Johanna through the undergrowth,’ police said. ‘We want to know if anyone has bought themselves a new coat or anorak – or suddenly been seen without a familiar one.
‘It is possible it was a smart coat or jacket of the type that would be worn when out for the evening. If it is no longer around, it is the kind of thing parents or relatives or friends would notice.’
Johanna, who went missing the day before Christmas Eve, was found in near-frozen water. Although she died from drowning, she had been beaten and her clothes partly removed. Police have not disclosed whether she was sexually assaulted or whether sufficient samples for a DNA fingerprint have been obtained.
Why has the case been looked at again?
The case is being reviewed to establish if new leads are available forensically.
Since 1993 there have been a number of appeals which have generated several new lines of enquiry. None were able to take this unsolved homicide forward to a successful conclusion.
A review of the original case exhibits is underway to establish if new forensic leads can be made to help solve this case.
We continue to appeal for new information from local people in Watton and the surrounding area regarding information which could help solve this case.
Eighteen years have elapsed since Johanna died and some people may have not been prepared to come forward on the original investigation because of allegiances that they then had.