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Appeal offers £20,000 reward for help finding remains of man who vanished in 1988

Portrait shot of Lee Boxell
Lee Boxell was 15 years old when he disappeared after leaving his family home to meet a friend in south London in 1988 (Picture: Metropolitan Police)

The Met police have launched a fresh appeal to find a boy who went missing from south London at the age of 15.

Lee Boxell vanished on September 10, 1988, after leaving his home in Sutton to meet his friend.

Lee met up with his friend and they spent some time together shopping before parting ways at around 1pm.

The last confirmed sighting of Lee was at 2.20pm that day on Sutton High Street.

A long-running police investigation looking into Lee’s movements on the day he vanished has stretched over the three decades he has been missing.

But because there haven’t been any further confirmed sightings of Lee after all these years, police sadly believe he isn’t alive anymore.

Lee was described as a ‘good student’ who ‘loved football’ and ‘had a very happy family life’ so the line of thinking that he ran away to start a new life and changed his name is ‘absolutely not viable’, according to police.

A fresh appeal has been launched because Lee’s parents, Peter and Christine Boxell, have had to live through the agony of not knowing what happened to their son 35 years ago.

Mandatory Credit: Photo by Roland Hoskins/ANL/REX/Shutterstock (3703265a) St Dunstan's Church Chema. Police And Workers Dig A Section Of The Graveyard In St Dunstan's Church Cheam Searching In Connection With The Disappearance Of Lee Boxell Who Went Missing From Sutton 25 Years Ago In 1988. St Dunstan's Church Chema. Police And Workers Dig A Section Of The Graveyard In St Dunstan's Church Cheam Searching In Connection With The Disappearance Of Lee Boxell Who Went Missing From Sutton 25 Years Ago In 1988.
Lee Boxell was a member of an unofficial youth club at St Dunstan’s Church in Cheam (Picture: Roland Hoskins/ANL/REX/Shutterstock)

Peter Boxell said they believe Lee was murdered, and they are urging anyone with information to come forwards as he and Ms Boxell are now in their late 70s.

‘We are still hoping that someone will come forward to help find his remains, so that my wife and I can say goodbye to our beloved son before it’s too late for us,’ Mr Boxell said.

The Met said in as statement ‘they want to ensure that Lee, if he is no longer alive, is given a proper burial’.

The force shared how their investigation has led them to believe Lee visited an unofficial youth club at St Dunstan’s Church in Cheam, which was known locally as ‘The Shed’.

Lots of local children and teenagers would have spent time there and as those children will now be adults, they might have vital information they couldn’t share in the past.

Detective Chief Inspector Kate Blackburn said: ‘While we don’t have conclusive evidence that Lee came to harm, with no sightings or credible information in 35 years we sadly believe that Lee is no longer alive.

‘Over the years we have interviewed a number of people who we believe were involved in, or know about Lee’s disappearance. When arrested, those people gave a number of conflicting accounts.

‘One 80-year-old man, who is now deceased, claimed he had “helped Lee to get away” and that he was now living away from his family under an assumed name.

‘This version of events was investigated and was found not to have been credible.

‘This man, and his associates, also claimed that they had seen Lee a year later. However, members of the public called police anonymously with information stating that he had bragged that he had buried Lee in the churchyard at St Dunstan’s church in Cheam.

‘That information led us to conduct the largest ever archaeological dig undertaken by the Met at the church yard. Sadly, that search did not find Lee and his parents continue in their desperate hope to find him.

‘Lee was a boy with a very happy family life. He was a good student who loved football. The story that he had run away, started a new life and was living under an assumed name was absolutely not viable.

‘My hope is that someone who didn’t feel they could speak to us in the past may now feel that they can come forward and share what they know.

‘At this stage of our investigation my priority is to find Lee so that he can be returned to his parents. Lee’s parents deserve answers and they deserve the opportunity to bury their much-loved son.

‘Your information could help end the suffering for Lee’s family. If you can help, anonymously or otherwise please do get in touch.’

Lee’s father, Peter Boxell, added: ‘We have not seen or heard from our dear son Lee since he went to Sutton, thirty-five years ago on September 10, 1988.

‘He was only 15 when he disappeared. We fear that Lee may have been murdered.

‘If you can help us and his sister finally know what happened and have some closure – please, do what’s right.

‘If you know where he may be, or have any information about what happened to Lee, please contact the police Investigation team on 0208 721 4005 or if you prefer, you can tell the charity Crimestoppers what you know, anonymously.

‘Once you’ve given your information you need never have any further involvement with anyone about the case. Crimestoppers can’t identify who you are and will never ask or take any personal details from you.

‘So, this really does give someone a chance to do the right thing and help ease our years of pain. We can then see Lee finally laid to rest.’

Crimestoppers are offering £20,000 to anyone who can provide information leading to the recovery of Lee’s remains.

To be eligible for this reward, the information would need to be provided to Crimestoppers, not the police.

Get in touch with our news team by emailing us at

For more stories like this, check our news page.

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