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The Guardian - UK
The Guardian - UK
Helen Pidd and agencies

Man and woman arrested on suspicion of killing baby in Cheshire 25 years ago

A close-up of a card on the coffin at a funeral for the baby boy. It reads: Jesus called a little child Baby Callum
A card on the coffin at a funeral for the baby boy, who was named Callum by officers investigating the case. Photograph: Richard Williams/PA

A man and woman have been arrested on suspicion of the murder of an unidentified baby who was found strangled to death near a theme park in Cheshire 25 years ago.

The baby boy’s body was discovered in a black bin bag by a dog walker in woodland near Gulliver’s World amusement park in Warrington on 14 March 1998.

He weighed 3.5kg (7lb 8oz) and a postmortem confirmed he was just a few hours old when he died and that he had been strangled and beaten around the head. His parents were never found and his identity remains a mystery.

The baby was named Callum by officers investigating the case, after the Callands area of the town where he was found. Locals shocked by the grim discovery raised £888 to pay for a headstone that was used when Callum was buried at Warrington cemetery.

It was inscribed: “Baby Callum, precious child of God. Laid to rest July 27, 1998. With love, from the people of Warrington.”

The DNA of nearly 500 women was taken during the initial investigation, including that of many schoolgirls, but these tests failed to find a match.

Now, more than 25 years after his death, Cheshire police confirmed two people were arrested in relation to the incident in July this year. The man and woman, both from Liverpool, were arrested on suspicion of murder. Both have since been released on conditional bail, the force said.

DI Hannah Friend said: “I understand that this is an extremely emotional case, which has attracted a lot of attention over the past 25 years, however I would ask people not to speculate. Inquiries remain ongoing and we will not be releasing further information at this time.”

The discovery sparked a massive police investigation in which thousands of people were interviewed and a hotline number was set up for anyone offering information.

A woman described as “upset and emotional” called and claimed to be the baby’s mother, but she was never traced and her identity remains unknown. A distressed girl in a beige coat spotted in the area at the time was also never found.

Four months after his body was discovered, Callum was laid to rest in a white coffin after aceremony at St Elphin’s Church in the town. More than 150 people – including the town’s mayor – paid their respects before he was buried in a grave surrounded by flowers and children’s toys.

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