THE devastated dad of a 15-year-old boy missing since 1988 has revealed the pain of wanting to find his body so he can finally lay him to rest – as cops probe a new lead.
Lee’s dad Peter, 72, has now spoken of his heartbreak as he begged someone to tell him where his son is buried so he can finally be laid to rest.
He told The Sun Online: “We just still hope after all this time someone will come forward and let us know what really happened to him.
“The ultimate thing I would like to see happen is to find his remains if Lee was murdered. I’m not interested in justice or hatred for who killed him, I just want to see finally see him laid to rest and to have closure.
‘I WANT TO KNOW BEFORE IT’S TOO LATE’
“Regrettably, I’m as sure as I can be that Lee is no longer alive. For me, it’s a case of finding a body.
“If there is anybody who can help us to find Lee, then please don’t keep that information to yourself anymore and come forward and tell us or the police or Crimestoppers.
“Let us know somehow so we can find Lee and find his remains before it’s too late and I pass away and his mother passes away. We’re in our 70s now so we won’t be here for very longer so we need to know and his sister and niece and nephew need to know what happened to him.”
Police said yesterday they believed Lee had witnessed someone being sexually assaulted on the day of his disappearance.
A Metropolitan Police spokesman told the Sun Online they are pursuing a “new line of inquiry”.
POTENTIAL NEW LEAD
Detective Inspector John McQuade said: “I believe that Lee was assaulted by one person and that they had help from one or more others to dispose of the body and/or cover up the death.
“I would like to appeal to that young person who was sexually assaulted to come forward.
“Your evidence would confirm Lee’s presence at the shed and help to identify his assailant.
“I accept and wish to make it clear that it may not have been the intention to kill Lee and that your role in assisting the main attacker will be taken into account.
“But you have to take responsibility for your actions and face the consequences before it is too late for Lee’s family.
“Someone knows what happened to Lee and where his body is buried.”
VANISHED WITHOUT A TRACE
Lee vanished on September 10, 1988, after saying he wanted to watch a football game.
His beloved Sutton United FC were playing away in Lancashire and it was originally believed he had gone to watch Charlton Athletic against Millwall at Selhurst Park in Croydon instead.
But when Lee failed to return home later that night his parents were worried as, unlike other boys his age, Lee never stayed out late.
They contacted police the next day, who quickly came to the conclusion Lee wasn’t the type to run away from home.
Peter said: “I would obviously love to find Lee alive but I think it’s extremely unlikely – nobody could disappear for over 30 years and there be no word or sightings of him. I think that’s just impossible.
“He wouldn’t just run away and find a new life, that’s just inconceivable.”
‘KILLED BY PAEDO’
In 2011, a gravedigger, William Lambert, was exposed as a paedophile and jailed for 11 years for sexually abusing girls aged between 11 and 15.
He told an inmate he had murdered Lee and buried him in the graveyard behind the church – but denied all knowledge when quizzed in prison.
Cops later discovered Lee had spent time at the outbuilding and became convinced the graveyard holds the answers to his disappearance.
The fresh line of inquiry saw the Metropolitan Police carry out its longest ever forensic archaeological dig in 2013 as they spent a year – and £1million – exhuming the graveyard.
But the renewed interest in the case from cops and the graveyard dig just led to more anguish for Christine and Peter.
FROZEN IN TIME
Despite cops arresting – and later releasing without charge – a number of suspects on suspicion of his murder, no body has ever been found and there have been no sightings.
His parents have now kept his room as a time capsule in case their oldest child returns at any moment – and refuse to sell his childhood home in Sutton for the same reason.
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To help him cope, Peter joined the Missing People Choir and they performed a song about Lee and other missing children on the final of Britain’s Got Talent in 2017.
Speaking at the time, Peter said: “We have been here since 1975 and we will never move.
“If we were to go and Lee came home, what would he think or do? He would think we don’t care anymore. We’re scared we would never see him again.”
If you are away from home or thinking of leaving, or if you have information about a missing person or a missing loved one, call Missing People’s free and confidential 24/7 helpline on 116 000 or email [email protected]