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The harrowing story of tragic April Jones, by her own parents.

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The harrowing story of tragic April Jones, by her own parents.

Post  Max on Sun Mar 22, 2015 1:36 am

The house that will haunt us to our dying day: The harrowing story of tragic April Jones, by her own parents... from their book that will bring tears to your eyes

.Five-year-old April Jones was snatched just before bedtime near her home
.Her disappearance in 2012 condemned her parents to a lifetime of sadness
.Mark Bridger was jailed for life for her abduction, murder and perverting the course of justice
.Here, Paul and Coral Jones recall for the first time the day their lives turned into the nightmare that every parent fears

PUBLISHED: 22:11, 21 March 2015 | UPDATED: 23:57, 21 March 2015.

It was a brutal murder that horrified the nation. Day after agonising day in the autumn of 2012 the search went on for five-year-old Welsh girl April Jones, snatched just before bedtime near her home.
She was to disappear almost without trace, condemning her parents to a lifetime of sadness.
Here in their own deeply moving yet dignified account, they recall for the first time the day their lives turned into the nightmare that every parent fears…


The small cottage stood apart from the other houses in Ceinws, with lush green forest behind. Its name, Mount Pleasant, had always seemed apt. But this grey November day there was nothing peaceful about it. The chimneys were gone. The roof had been removed. Only the white walls remained. Television crews and newspaper photographers had gathered. We clasped each other’s hands.
As the yellow crane chipped away at the walls, I could sense Coral’s silent tears. One by one the walls were reduced to rubble. In two hours the house was no more.
We still didn’t know exactly what had happened there. Perhaps we never would. But we knew it would haunt us until our dying day…

At 4lb 2oz, April was barely the size of a bag of sugar when she was born, her skin almost see-through. ‘Why don’t we call her April?’ said our older daughter Jazmin. ‘It is the month of April after all.’
After she turned three, we noticed April was a little clumsy, often tripping over her little feet, and mild cerebral palsy was confirmed – fairly common in children born prematurely. She could walk short distances, but too far and she suffered agonising pains on her left side. Yet she craved the independence her little friends on our Bryn-y-Gog estate in Machynlleth enjoyed, and I couldn’t resist buying her a small, pink bike.

You’d have thought I’d handed her the world. I spent hours teaching her to ride, and was filled with pride when she managed to cycle to the end of the street. From then on, you’d rarely see her without the bike, though she never ventured further than a few hundred yards from the back door.
On the evening of Monday, October 1, 2012, April asked if she and her friend Amy could go outside and play. ‘Yes, but make sure you stick together,’ I said.
In all honesty, neither Coral nor I ever had any concerns about April playing outside. Machynlleth felt so safe.
The worst thing that could happen to our children here , we thought, was a grazed knee or a punctured bike tyre.

Just before 7pm, April returned to ask if she could play a little longer. ‘Fifteen minutes,’ Coral said firmly. ‘But only because you’ve been so good at school.’
She tenderly zipped up April’s purple padded coat before our precious daughter skipped out of the door – so happy and full of life that even now it’s hard to believe it was the last time we’d see her smiling face.
Around 7.15pm, Coral sent our son Harley to fetch his little sister. We heard him before we saw him. His screams were so piercing, it sounded like he was being tortured. We ran to the door to see him racing towards us, gripping the handlebars of April’s beloved bike.
‘April’s gone,’ he wailed, sinking to his knees in what seemed like slow motion. ‘Someone’s taken her.’
A huge knot of dread formed in my stomach as it dawned on me there was no sign of April. He’d discovered Amy, he sobbed, standing alone and confused on the street corner. April’s bike was propped up against a garage door. April had got into a grey car, Amy explained.
There was a man inside and he’d driven off.


All I could think was that time was not on our side. Few things are more powerful than a mother’s instinct, and mine told me April was in real danger. I could barely breathe as I dialled the police.
‘Please,’ I choked. ‘My daughter’s been kidnapped from Bryn-y-Gog.’
‘What did you say? Your dog has been kidnapped?’ came the reply.
‘No!’ I wailed. ‘My daughter. She’s five years old.’ I felt I might burst with frustration.
‘My daughter was out playing with a friend and she’s been kidnapped.’ Neighbours heard the commotion and were gathering at the door, desperate to calm me down and see if they could help.
‘Officers are on their way,’ said the operator. I began running round the houses, screaming hysterically.
Most parents will understand how terrifying it is to lose sight of your child for a second in a crowded shopping centre.
But nothing can compare to the horror of having no idea where your child is – or whom they are with.
All that kept me from collapsing was knowing I had to be reunited with my little girl. Within 15 minutes, word had spread and volunteers were combing the estate. Over the next few months, this sense of community would help sustain Paul and me in our darkest hours.
‘I’m going looking for her,’ I wept.
Panic flashed across Paul’s face. ‘Coral, no. You can’t drive in the state you’re in.’

Paul’s friend Tim jumped into the driver’s seat. I saw April’s booster seat and pushchair in the back and was gripped by how small and fragile she was. Her little legs would be getting sore and her skin would be hurting without her eczema cream. Oh God, we needed her back.
I just kept telling Tim to keep driving. We stopped almost everyone we passed, but no one had any information. Darkness was setting in. It broke my heart to think of April cold, scared or alone, but I had to tell myself she’d soon be back in her room, giggling as Paul made up another of his stories for her.
I hoped against hope I’d walk through the back door and find April there to greet me. Of course, she wasn’t. I sank into Paul’s arms and dissolved into tears.


I’d read that the first 24 hours were crucial. By 10pm I was still frantically pacing from the front gate to the back. April had been gone less than three hours. That’s when I experienced it – a horrible sensation like nothing before.
I’m sceptical of anyone claiming to have a sixth sense, but it felt as though all hope was leaving my body, no matter how hard I tried to cling on to it. That second I knew April wouldn’t be coming home. I think I already knew the awful truth. My little girl was gone forever.
Huddled together, Coral and I hardly noticed dawn breaking. Overnight hundreds of volunteers had congregated at the leisure centre, some travelling 100 miles in the dead of night. Pubs had emptied as people went to look for our daughter, some staying out all night. The petrol station had remained open through the early hours. We were overwhelmed by their kindness.

Around 11am, two police officers arrived, introducing themselves as our family liaison officers. We didn’t know it then, but we’d just met two people who would become almost part of the family, putting their own lives on hold to be by our sides.
It was around then Mark Bridger’s name came up. April’s friend Amy had been interviewed by a police officer and from photographs she’d picked out a Land Rover Discovery straight away.
Now, on the TV, a detective was briefing reporters. ‘The witnesses have told us April got into the driver’s side,’ he said. ‘That could mean it’s a left-hand-drive vehicle.’
Coral and I looked at each other. ‘Bridger,’ we both said. He was the only person we knew with a left-hand-drive, which just happened to be a grey Land Rover Discovery.

We weren’t yet aware a witness had seen him in his car on the estate around the time April vanished – not remarkable in itself, as some of his children lived there, but added to Amy’s information, a key sighting.
Bridger was a few years older than me and had lived nearby when we’d first moved to Bryn-y-Gog. He had six children to numerous women, and had recently moved to the rented cottage in Ceinws, about five miles from Machynlleth. April knew of him, as Harley sometimes played with two of his children.
Officers forced entry into his cottage, but he’d already gone. It was uncomfortably hot inside and there was an overpowering smell of detergent – but no sign of April. This was obviously a man with a lot to hide. They found him walking on the A487 between Ceinws and Machynlleth, and took him to Aberystwyth police station. In the meantime, the police needed some of April’s belongings for her DNA. It broke our hearts to hand over her hairbrush, toothbrush, mug and some of her teddies.
That evening we had a visit from DS Andy John. He had steely grey hair and a sympathetic manner, but his expression told us it wasn’t good news.
‘Mark Bridger has made a statement saying he killed April Jones on the evening of October 1, 2012.’ I wrapped my arms around Coral.

A few days after April’s disappearance, Paul began a diary.
‘I was unsure when it was suggested,’ he explains. ‘Besides my poor eyesight, I suffer from dyslexia. But as soon as I started putting my thoughts on paper, I felt some kind of release. Tears filled my eyes as I thought what I’d say to April if she could hear me. I vowed to write it every day.’
This is a selection of his emotional entries from the diary:
April, you leave a hole so big in me it may never be fixed. I’m only glad I had as much time with you as I did. It looked like it may have been less when you were born. Five-and-a-half years of so much love. I can’t explain to anyone what it means to me. Love you, Dad xxx
April, I was looking forward to watching you grow up. It’s not like we have a lot to look forward to. We have no money. My eyes are bad and my prospects are dire. I think I put some of my hope for life in you, but now you leave such a hole in my life. We just don’t know what to do, or how to carry on, but we must. We will have to tell Jazz and Harley sometime in January. It will break their hearts and mess them up even more than now, but they need us, and your mum and I need each other. I love you, April. Dad xxx
April, I think about you every day. I cry most nights. I always look in and say goodnight and send you a kiss but, as Christmas comes, I miss you and I can’t bear to see your empty bed. I find myself crying and I don’t know why. I’ll get through this because I love you and I know you love me. This alone is enough for me. I wish to hear your voice, see your smile, kiss you goodnight. But my memory will have to do. I miss you, my beautiful, brown-eyed girl. Lots of love, your very sad Dad xxx
April, Christmas Day is a day for young boys and girls. But, while we go on without you, it doesn’t mean we’ll ever forget. I know I’ll never accept it. I don’t think I’ll ever stop hoping or loving you. I keep going for mum, Jazz and Harley and I’ll look after your darling dogs, Autumn and Storm. Coral says she’s ready for tomorrow. I hope she’ll be OK, seeing the man who killed her baby girl. It will be devastating for me, but what it will be like for a mother I can’t imagine. She’s my biggest worry, but I’m also worried for Harley and Jazz at home. I hope they’re OK. I love you April. Dad xxx

‘He said he was driving his car down the road when he felt a small knock,’ Andy continued. ‘He got out and realised he had hit April. In a panic, he put her in the Land Rover Discovery and drove around Machynlleth not knowing what to do. He tried to revive her by giving her mouth-to-mouth but failed.
‘He then can’t remember what he had done or where the body was placed. We’re not sure we believe his account.’
‘Do you think there’s any chance she’s still alive?’ I heard myself asking, my voice finally breaking.
‘I think it’s bad news if he’s saying she’s already dead,’ he eventually replied, meeting my eye.
I imagined April’s little body lying in a ditch or a shallow grave, or dumped down a mineshaft as if she were an animal. Our life had been shattered into a thousand pieces. All I knew was that our old world had ended and a new world had begun.

Two days later, Andy John had the same grim expression. ‘The forensic teams have identified spots of April’s blood in Mark Bridger’s house,’ he said slowly. ‘We’re confident this means April was in the house. We also believe this means she came to significant harm within the property.’
We knew they were now looking for a body. It felt like something was clawing at my insides and slowly destroying me. Late the next day Andy told us Bridger had been charged with murder, abduction and attempting to pervert the course of justice.
Around a month after April’s disappearance, forensic teams discovered traces of a substantial puddle of April’s blood on Bridger’s living room floor, and further spots of blood in the hall and in the bathroom. When I asked what this meant, I was told: ‘I’m afraid if you’d lost that amount of blood, I don’t think you’d get up again. I’m sorry, Paul.’
That night, I cried solidly for six hours, until my eyes, cheeks and jawbone ached.
In mid-November Andy had the worst news. Forensic teams examining Bridger’s house had found a wood burner. ‘Among the ashes, they found some human remains. They are from a human skull. We believe them to be April’s but we can’t prove this yet.’
Coral was remarkably calm as she met Andy’s eye. ‘So,’ she said. ‘He’s smashed her to bits, then?’ Andy bowed his head.

© Paul and Coral Jones, 2015

April: A Mother And Father’s Heart-Breaking Story Of The Daughter They Loved And Lost, by Paul and Coral Jones, is published by Simon & Schuster, priced £16.99. Pre-order before April 5 for the special price of £14.44 at, where p&p is free for a limited time only.

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Re: The harrowing story of tragic April Jones, by her own parents.

Post  Sabot on Sun Mar 22, 2015 8:38 am

Thanks, Max. Heart breaking. Not saying anything else at the moment.
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Re: The harrowing story of tragic April Jones, by her own parents.

Post  bb1 on Sun Mar 22, 2015 11:10 am

No, nothing else you can usefully say, is there?


Few will weep tears for Amaral, seeing an angry man locked up in his own bitter and baseless theories
. -Neil Tweedie, Daily Mail, of the McCanns' tormentor Gonzo.
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Re: The harrowing story of tragic April Jones, by her own parents.

Post  Sabot on Sun Mar 22, 2015 11:14 am

I did leave a comment on The Daily Mail. But I don't expect it to be published.
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Re: The harrowing story of tragic April Jones, by her own parents.

Post  lily on Sun Mar 22, 2015 1:52 pm

So desperately sad....
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