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Detectives vow to track down killer of Joe McCafferty as 20th anniversary of murder looms

The seven-year-old died in arson attack on a house in Marsh

Joe McCafferty

A senior detective investigating the murder of Huddersfield youngster Joe McCafferty has said police will never give up the hunt for his killer.

Next week sees the 20th anniversary of the seven-year-old’s death in an arson attack at a house in Marsh and the team investigating the unsolved case remain determined to catch the killer.

Det Supt Nick Wallen, from West Yorkshire Police’s Homicide and Major Enquiry Team (HMET), told BBC Radio Leeds this morning (Friday) that leads are constantly being examined with developing forensic technology to crack the case.

He said: “I’m always positive. Offences, murders, crimes get solved many, many years after they take place and I’ll say again that West Yorkshire Police would never, ever, close a case of this magnitude.

“We react to information, we react to intelligence and all cases will be reviewed every two to three years with new advances in technology.

“This case remains one of our most prominent unsolved crimes and we will do everything we possibly can to make sure that ultimately the perpetrator for what is just the most horrific murder is brought to justice.”

Joe was killed after petrol was poured through the letterbox of a house where he was staying on Haywood Avenue on May 3, 1997.

His cousin Chantelle Cunningham, who was 12 at the time, managed to escape but has said in a recent interview that she still lives with the trauma of what happened that night.

Joe McCafferty

Det Supt Wallen added in the interview that many arrests had taken place over the years since the murder, but that a motive still remained unclear.

He said: “Was this just a random attack? Because we do know that there are people who get their kicks out of setting fire.

“As awful as it sounds, was there somebody who had a grudge against children, against Joe? A number of people have been arrested but we haven’t charged anybody.”

The detective added that one of the main pieces of evidence – a green container for motor oil found at the scene – had been recently re-examined.

“A piece of evidence within that container was subject to a detailed forensic re-examination in the past months, but I’m sorry to say that hasn’t yielded what we hoped it would.”

Anyone who has any information about Joe’s murder is urged to come forward to West Yorkshire Police, or to call Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555 111.

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