"The soul that has conceived one wickedness can nurse no good thereafter."
It was the 21st of March 2002. Just after 3pm, 13 year old Milly Dowler left school for the day in Weybridge in Surrey, Great Britain.
Milly had planned to stay late that day in school to do some art work with a friend. Her mother, Sally, who worked at the school would then drive her home. Milly lived with her parents and 16 year old sister Gemma.
Milly and Gemma
Milly's plans changed that day though. Milly and her friend did their work during their lunch break instead and that meant they could leave school at their usual time.
When school finished,Milly walked to the Weybridge railway station with a friend. The two girls got off the train at Walton-On-Thames station. Milly normally got off the train at the next stop but on that particular day, she wanted to get some food with her friend. There was a little coffee shop in the station and it wouldn't take Milly too long to walk home from there.
Just before 4pm, Milly called her Dad,Bob, to let him know she would be home in half an hour. Bob didn't know it then but that would be the last time he would ever speak to his daughter again.
When Milly failed to return home, her parents were worried. It wasn't like Milly and she had already called to say she would be home. They reported her missing to the police. At that stage, it was around 7pm that evening. There was an immediate sense that something was wrong. Police retraced her steps. They knew Milly had been in the coffee shop that day and they also knew she left just after 4pm.
CCTV Footage of Milly leaving school
At that time, just after 4pm, Milly headed down Station Avenue alone as her friend's home was in a different direction. One of Gemma's friends saw Milly on Station Avenue. But that was as much as police knew. There was a CCTV camera at the end of Station Avenue and there was no sign of Milly in the footage. That made no sense. As she was walking down that way, she should have been seen on the CCTV footage as she walked past.
At the time, it was suggested and even hoped by some, that Milly perhaps had simply run away from home. It seemed a bit of a stretch as she had just left her friend, her friend believed she was heading straight home and she even called her Dad to tell him she was on the way.
But the reality was that her disappearance just didn't make sense. It was the middle of the day, people saw Milly leave the coffee shop and walk down the road so it should have been a straight forward case. But it wasn't. Police had no idea what happened to Milly as she walked down that road.
A huge search took place. Police knocked on every door in the area and spoke with people who were in the area at the time. They noticed a car that had stopped on the CCTV footage and appealed for information but the driver quickly came forward. It was a mother and son and they had no knowledge of what happened to Milly. Months of searching led to nothing until the Dowler family received the most devastating news some six months later.
On the 18th of September 2002, any hope of finding Milly alive was shattered. Mushroom pickers discovered remains in Yateley Heath Woods near Yateley in Hampshire. The remains were so badly decomposed that dental records were required to identify that they were the remains of Milly Dowler. Due to the decomposition, the cause of death could not be determined. There were no clues as to what happened to Milly either. Her clothes and her belongings were missing.
Yateley Heath Woods
The police looked again at the last place Milly was seen alive. Station Avenue. They knew she left the coffee shop and walked past a bus stop but by all accounts did not make it as far as the CCTV camera at the end of the street so they needed to establish if she had perhaps taken a lift with someone she knew or if she had been abducted. They simply did not have the answer to that question.
By chance,in 2004, an officer from Surrey transferred to a new station. He was investigating women who had been murdered and assaulted in the area and noticed that the circumstances of some of the cases were similar to Milly's case. One man who was being questioned in relation to them was a man called Levi Bellfield. He looked at his file to see where Levi lived when Milly went missing and to his astonishment, he lived just over 50 yards from where Milly was last seen.
Levi Bellfield lived with his girlfriend Emma Mills at the time. She confirmed to police that on the day Milly went missing, she did not know where Levi was. He came home that night between 10-11pm. She thought he was wearing different clothes than he had on earlier in the day and he left the flat again just before 4am.
Emma further confirmed that at the time, Levi drove a red Daewoo Dexia. Police looked back through the CCTV Footage and there it was. A red Daewoo Dexia drove past at 4.32pm. That car was reported missing eight days later and was never found.
CCTV Footage of the red Daewoo Dexia
Just one day before Milly went missing, someone else reported that red car as acting suspiciously but the two were never connected at the time. Rachel Cowles, who was 11 years old at the time, was walking home when the red car stopped beside her. The driver said he was her new neighbour and he would give her a lift home. Rachel knew her neighbours so she refused. This happened just three miles from where Milly was last seen.
But that was just one of the many offences police needed to ask Levi about. A pattern had emerged of Levi through the police investigation and that was that Levi hated women. Police believe he was responsible for a large number of unsolved attacks on women. Levi would drive around bus stops and try to talk to young women and girls who were on their own. When he didn't get what he wanted from them, his stalking and harassment escalated.
In February 2003, 19 year old Marsha McDonnell was found bleeding to death just yards from her home. A hammer had been used in the attack and she had severe head injuries. Marsha died in hospital two days later. Her murder was shocking. Marsha had been at the cinema that night with friends and got the bus home. She got off the bus stop close to her home and was almost home when she was attacked. CCTV footage revealed a car was driving beside the bus and it stayed close to the bus. That car was registered to Levi Bellfield. Levi would drive past buses and bus stops looking for women who were alone and if they rejected him, he would attack them.
A few months later, he ran over Kate Sheedy. She survived the attack.
In August 2004, Amelie Delagrange, a 22 year old student from France, was beaten on Twickenham Green and later died in hospital from severe head injuries. The similarities to Amelie's case and the case of Marsha led police to believe that the same person was involved in the two murders. Levi drove a van at the time and it was seen in the Twickenham area on CCTV.
Levi was charged with the murder of Marsha McDonnell and Amélie Delagrange and the attempted murder of Kate Sheedy. He was convicted of their murders in 2008 and sentenced to life.
In 2010, he was charged with the murder of Milly Dowler, some eight years after she went missing.
It was believed that Levi was on Station Avenue that day. He was hiding behind some bushes and when he saw Milly walking alone, he grabbed her. She didn't stand a chance. At 6ft 1" and 20 stone, he could easily overpower her. He took her to his flat which was just yards away and assaulted her before then driving her to his mother's house. The CCTV Footage that showed Levi's car was from 4.32pm and police believe Milly was alive in the car at that time. He raped her outside his mother's house and raped and tortured her at a third location. All in all, the horrific abuse, rape and torture of Milly took place over a 14 hour period. Levi then strangled the teenager to death.
Levi confessed in prison to the murder of Milly. Milly's family released a statement which outlines and highlights just how monstrous he is:
"We feel we need to say something in addition to the information that has already been made public, as we do not think what has been revealed reflects the true heinousness of this man.
In May 2015 - nearly nine months ago - we were informed that Bellfield had requested to speak to Surrey Police about Milly.Bellfield made it clear to police that he would only speak to female police officers.Bellfield provided the officers with a harrowing account of Milly's final 14 hours.Giving details of her abduction, repeated rape, torture and then finally how he murdered her.
The reason we were told this information last May, was because previously Bellfield had shared the information with other prison inmates and one of them was due to be released.This meant there was a risk that this information could be made public without us knowing about it.
Bellfield told the police that after abducting Milly and assaulting her at his flat a few yards from Walton Station, he then drove her to his mother's house.He reversed down a long driveway and then raped her in broad daylight over the boot of his car.Bellfield then moved her to another location, where the rape and torture continued for a number of hours, until the next day when he finally strangled her to death.
A few days after hearing this harrowing information from Surrey Police, they revealed to us that they were also investigating an alleged accomplice involved in the abduction and rape of Milly.Hearing Bellfield's account of how Milly spent her final hours before being murdered was shocking enough, but the news that there could have been another individual involved was devastating.There are no words to describe the additional torment and pain we have been going through since we were told this information.We had to remain silent for eight months whilst the police conducted their investigation.
Finally, when they made the arrest of the suspected accomplice, the person was questioned and released without charge in less than 10 hours as there was no evidence found.The pressure this has put us under as a family has been unimaginable and has taken its toll on all of us.We have had to fight every step of the way to get this far.In desperation last November we wrote to the Home Secretary to tell her of our concerns, and she met with us immediately.Now we know the final hours of Milly's life, perhaps her soul, at long last, can finally rest in peace.The general public have always played a huge part in supporting us, for which we are eternally grateful and thankful.We believe that they should know what Bellfield did to our beautiful daughter and sister Milly."
Levi was convicted of the murder of Milly Dowler and given a whole life tariff. He is suspected of being involved in a number of other unsolved attacks which include rape and murder dating as far back as 1980. While he may have been convicted of those three murders, by all accounts, Levi was involved in a lot more. One of his former partners describes him in the below video.
The comments below have not been moderated
"When someone just disappears for no reason, it's shocking, it's devastating. I just feel like my life stopped that day and I've just been in a tailspin ever since."
- Adam Vaughan, Janine's brother
Join Our Community
Check out our new Book Club!