Detectives appear to be back at square one in their murder investigation into who killed Huddersfield youngster Joe McCafferty.
In May last year the Examiner reported that a man aged 65 and a woman aged 60 had been arrested after the seven-year-old died in an arson attack on his aunt, Debra Pierre’s, home in Haywood Avenue, Marsh, on May 3, 1997 – two days after new Labour swept to victory in a landmark General Election.
Both have now been released from their police bail without charge.
Yet detectives still feel someone in that area knows who is responsible for the murder.
At the time of the arrests in May Joe’s mum Tracey told how the pain of losing her son had not got any easier over the past 18 years.
She said then: “They say that time is a healer, it’s not. Time hasn’t healed. If anything, it’s got worse over the years.”
At the time of the attack, Joe’s aunt, two cousins and older brother were also in the house when, in the early hours, fuel were poured through the letterbox and set alight. Joe, who was asleep at the time, was badly injured and later died at hospital. Others were badly injured, including his brother Nicky, now 19.
Tracey, was away visiting her mother in Norfolk when the fire broke out and was due back later that day. Also in the house were Debra’s daughter, Chantelle – who was 12 – and Chantelle’s step-sister, Shereen.
Chantelle was the first to be woken by the sound of the blaze, at about 5am.
She roused Debra and Shereen and all three escaped from an upstairs window as flames roared through the house.
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The flames and smoke were so intense it was impossible to reach Joe or Nicky. They were brought out by firefighters.
Nicky suffered serious burns to his body and arms, but Joe had died from his injuries by the time he arrived at nearby Huddersfield Royal Infirmary in a police car.
Debra suffered cuts to her wrist when she smashed a window to get the children out. She was also burned on her back.
Chantelle suffered burns to her back and foot along with cuts while Shereen was cut as she escaped through the smashed window.
The family could not face returning to live at the house and moved elsewhere.
The murderer had poured fuel through the letterbox and set it alight. A petrol container was found at the scene.
The main clue to the killer was the burned remains of the green plastic Unipart container used for motor oil. It was dark green, used for 20/50 motor oil and was last made in 1994. Most were sold at Esso filling stations.
Senior Investigating Officer Det Chief Insp Elizabeth Belton said: “Both the team investigating this murder and Joe’s mother Tracey firmly believe that information is held locally within the Marsh area of Huddersfield that could be key to this investigation.”
Although the crime shocked the Huddersfield community to its core and despite numerous appeals for information over the years, no-one has ever been convicted of this offence.
Inquiries are ongoing.
* And a separate murder investigation in Kirklees is also struggling for leads.
Detectives say they are still searching for the person who killed Bruce Roger Gapper even though no body has been found.
The 40-year-old was reported missing from home in Groves Hall Road, Dewsbury Moor, on Tuesday, March 16, 1999.
His car was discovered near Castle Hill in Huddersfield.
Initially his disappearance was treated as a missing persons inquiry but in March 2015 police confirmed that they were now treating it as a murder enquiry.