The Child Snatcher true story behind new Channel 5 documentary drama

Channel 5 explores a shocking true crime in new series The Child Snatcher – what is the show all about?

In this haunting two-part drama documentary, the unimaginable nightmare of a parent’s worst fear becomes a shocking reality for Andy Cardy when his nine-year-old daughter, Jennifer, goes missing in Northern Ireland in 1981.

Despite the community’s desperate efforts to find her, Jennifer’s body is tragically discovered floating in a dam, miles away from where she vanished. Little did they know that this was the work of a sinister serial killer.

Julie Hart of West Yorkshire Police poses for a photo
In 1986 after ten year old Sarah Harper went missing, West Yorkshire Police’s Julie was appointed as a family liaison officer to the Harper family.

Over the next five years, the killer strikes again, snatching three more young girls, leaving devastating discoveries of their bodies later on. Detectives from various forces struggle to connect the dots in this chilling case, hindered by the limitations of antiquated policing systems and scarce technology. The families of the victims – Jennifer Cardy, Susan Maxwell, Caroline Hogg and Sarah Harper – are left grappling with grief, desperate for justice.

As time passes and numerous suspects are ruled out, the fear of another child being abducted looms large. However, a seemingly unbelievable arrest in a quiet rural village becomes a pivotal moment in the investigation. The van driver, Robert Black, becomes the prime suspect, igniting hope that they might finally catch the serial killer responsible for the murders of young girls across Great Britain.

But Black’s refusal to cooperate and the lack of physical evidence present the detectives with an immense challenge. They embark on a relentless pursuit, relying on old-fashioned police work to close the net on the elusive killer.

Years go by and as the parents of Susan, Caroline and Sarah anticipate closure, they wonder if justice will ever prevail.

With the turn of the millennium, the case of Jennifer Cardy’s murder is reopened, leading investigators to suspect Robert Black. As they painstakingly build a circumstantial case, the prospect of a confession becomes the final piece of the puzzle. In a bold move, they decide to interview Black, diving into the mind of a cold and calculated serial killer.

Finally, after three decades since Jennifer’s murder, Andy Cardy prepares to confront his daughter’s killer, concluding this heart-rending story that forever scarred the lives of many.

Presenting heart-wrenching narratives from grieving parents, conversations with dedicated officers who spent decades to solving the case and recorded dialogues with the perpetrator, The Child Snatcher provides a comprehensive exploration of a sequence of horrifying offences that left the entire nation in shock.

The Child Snatcher airs on Channel 5 on Monday, 7 August and Tuesday, 8 August at 9PM.

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