Sixty years ago a young brother and sister left their Bristol home to visit ponies grazing in a nearby field. Tragically they never came home.
On Monday 1 July 1957, following 11 days of intensive police and public searches, the bodies of seven-year-old June and five-year-old Roy were found by an officer on the banks of the River Frome at Snuff Mills – around a third of a mile from their home in Stapleton.
Their deaths remain one of the oldest unsolved murder cases in the Avon and Somerset Force area.
DS Pete Frake, of the Major Crime Review Team, said: “Sixty years doesn’t diminish the tragedy
“The killing of two children is a horrific event and the memories will be long-lasting for anyone who was living in Bristol at the time."
“Over the years we’ve spoken to thousands of people and taken more than 2,000 statements but no conclusive evidence has been found proving who carried out this heinous act.
“We have lots of original documents from the initial police investigation, including scene photos, house-to-house inquiry logs, original index files, correspondence from the public and an original map showing the movements of the Sheasby children on the evening they went missing.
“But sadly the key piece of evidence missing is DNA."
“You never give up hope of a breakthrough but we have to be realistic. The chances of a murder case being solved after 60 years are minimal. Solving a case this old without any DNA evidence is very unlikely.”
Although a number of suspects were arrested and interviewed in connection with the murders, no-one has ever been charged.
Ernie Bussell, 77, (below left) was a teenage police cadet at the time the children went missing – later going onto serve as a police constable with Bristol Constabulary until 1971.
He remembers taking part in searches across Snuff Mills and Stapleton in the days after the children went missing.
“We spent quite a bit of time walking up and down the footpath in Snuff Mills and searching the bracken,” he said.
The community at the time was in shock. It was front page of the newspapers every day. People were very, very concerned.
“They thought someone was out there. There was great anxiety that it was going to happen again.
“I remember hearing they had been found, which in a way was a great relief. But of course it’s an absolute tragedy.”
If you have any information about the deaths of Roy and June Sheasby and have never given this to the police, you can call the Major Crime Review Team on 101 and tell the call handler the information relates to Operation Sheasby.