The Community fights back
There’s a local officer working at Machynlleth that evening and so when the emergency call comes through, a police woman is at the scene within about seven minutes.
She’s met by a traumatised family and anxious neighbours fearful of what’s happened to April - and what might happen to their children. The officer tries her best to extract a clear account of the abduction in order to tell her communications centre - all while trying to calm a community facing its worst fear: the taking of one of its own.
This is the scene Jazmin finds after running home from her youth club. She comforts herself by thinking:
“This isn’t real. This isn’t real.”
Her neighbours start their own ad hoc search parties and begin knocking on doors around the estate.
It’s now 8 o’clock. Dark is closing in. Torches are brought out to check alleys and garages.
And as the search through the streets, homes and estate grows, the word goes out on social media...
...Our April is missing...Have you seen her?
very little time
The search is co-ordinated and led from the local leisure centre by Detective Superintendent Andy John. He organises the search parties and finds a huge number of volunteers ready to go anywhere. Nearly everyone helps in the search.
“Nearly all of ‘Mach’ turned out...we had friends from further apart...even people we didn’t know – they came.”
Coral Jones, April’s Mother
“There was a man and he’d come all the way from Manchester that evening just to help - he was asking us ‘Where do you want me to go?’ And we were like, ‘Well, if you stay with local people at least you know where you’re going.’
Ceri Herbert, Family Friend
The search spreads from the estate, into the neighbouring hills, country lanes and forest trails. April’s sister Jazmin is told not to join these searches.
“I wasn’t really allowed to go out into the mountains with the other people, just in case you did see something. So...because I didn’t want to go home and just sit there...waiting, I thought the best thing I could do, go out with my friend, put posters up in bus stops, shops, lamp posts.”
April’s mother Coral can’t sit at home either. So someone drives her round in her own car so Coral can help in the search.
Her worst fears as a mother have come true.
And now the weather is turning against the search. It’s wet, cold and dark.
Some of the search teams work right through the night.
“Some of the search teams and stuff were ordered to stop and go back because they were exhausted. They wouldn’t stop.”
Paul Jones, April’s Father
Nationwide, it becomes the largest ever manhunt.
Within the first day, over a 1000 calls are logged to a national hotline.
“We knew from previous research that if April had been abducted or kidnapped...we knew that we had very little time to play with in terms of finding April safe and well.”
Andy John, Det. Superintendent, Dwfed-Powys Police