Police investigating the disappearance of a teenage mum who went missing 22 years ago today arrested two men on suspicion of abduction and murder.
A 51-year-old woman, believed to be the partner of one of the murder suspects, was also held on suspicion of perverting the course of justice.
Nicola Payne, 18, was last seen on December 14, 1991, while walking to her parents’ home in Coventry, although she never arrived.
At 8am todaypolice arrested two 49-year-old men at 8am at their homes in Coventry on suspicion of abduction and murder.
A 51-year-old woman was also arrested at one of the addresses of the men on suspicion of perverting the course of justice.
A West Midlands Police spokesman said: “Police investigating the disappearance of Nicola Payne from Coventry 22 years ago have this morning arrested two men on suspicion of her abduction and murder.
“The two men, both aged 49, were arrested at 8am today at their home addresses in the Bell Green and Stoke areas of Coventry.
“A 51-year-old woman was also arrested at the Bell Green address on suspicion of perverting the course of justice.
“All three have been taken to police stations in the West Midlands for questioning by detectives.
“Nicola went missing from Coventry on 14 December 1991.
“Despite extensive enquiries, Nicola, who had a seven-month-old baby son at the time, has never been seen again. Nicola’s family are aware of today’s developments.”
The arrests come days after police revealed forensic experts had found significant items relating to the case.
Nicola left her boyfriend’s home in Winston Avenue, Wood End at midday to walk the short distance to her parents’ home in Woodway Close, Woodway Lane.
She would have had to walk across a patch of land, known locally as the Black Pad, but she never arrived at her destination.
After the new developments last week, Nicola’s parents, John and Marilyn Payne said: “We, as a family, welcome any breakthrough that may lead us to finding out what happened to Nicola and bringing us some closure and we fully support their investigations.
“It has been nearly 22 years since our daughter Nicola went missing.
“For many years we have suffered not knowing what has happened to her.
“We await the result of these forensic tests and ask if there is anyone who has information that will assist the police to please make contact with officers.”
December 14, 1991: Nicola disappeared on her way to her parents’ house after taking a short cut over waste ground.
She had left her seven-month-old son Owen with her boyfriend Jason Cooke at his home in Winston Avenue, Henley Green.
April 1996: Police excavate the garden of a property in Woodway Lane, acting on a tip-off, but after 12 hours of searching nothing is found.
June 2001: Part of the Oxford Canal, in Ansty, is dredged after a witness comes forward with fresh information, but nothing is found.
September 2001: Bones are found near to where Nicola disappeared but turn out to be animal remains.
2005: A new poster campaign is launched round the country to bring the case back into the public eye.
2006: Nicola’s picture appears on T-shirts printed by the National Missing Persons Helpline.
March 2007: It is announced that the case is to be re-examined. The Major Investigation Unit based at Chace Avenue police station takes on the investigation after potential lines of inquiry were identified. Parents John and Marilyn re-appeal for those with information to come forward. A statement is also read on TV on behalf of Nicola’s son Owen, who is by now 16.
November 1, 2007: Police arrest a 37-year old man from Derbyshire on suspicion of the abduction and murder of Nicola. He is brought back to Chace Avenue police station for questioning and is released on bail pending further inquiries.
March 2008: The 37-year-old man was released from bail. No further action was taken against him.
June 11, 2008: Excavations begin at the garden of a house in Winston Avenue, Henley Green.
June 12, 2008: Searches at the house draw a blank.
June 19, 2012: After a tip off police begin excavating land in Courthouse Green.
June 20, 2012: Two men, aged 74 and 45, are both arrested as part of the investigation. A back garden in Miles Meadow, Bell Green, is searched.
June 21, 2012: The 74-year-old is released without charge. The 45-year-old was released on bail but charges against him were dropped in August.
December 14, 2012: Police and Nicola’s parents launch the 21st anniversary appeal, asking for help identifying two men seen close the Black Pad on the day she disappeared.
December 12, 2013: A forensic breakthrough in the case is announced.
December 17, 2013: Three arrests are made in connection with Nicola’s disappearance.