Lee Boxell was a 15 year-old boy who disappeared in 1988. The case has become one of the United Kingdom’s most infamous missing persons case.

Lee left his home to go shopping, but never returned. What happened to Lee is shrouded in mystery, though there are many theories that have been put forward.

This article reviews this disappearance. At the end of the article there is a poll, which asks which theory you believe is most accurate. We would love you to vote on it!

Lee left his home to go shopping

Background

Lee Boxell lived in Cheam, Sutton, England. At the time of his disappearance he was aged 15. He lived with his parents – Peter and Christine Boxell.

Lee was not known to have any issues, and appeared to be a happy teenager with plenty of friends.

The Disappearance

On 10th September 1988, Lee left his home to meet a friend in Sutton town centre at 11am. Lee and the friend went shopping, before parting ways at 1pm.

Upon parting, Lee said to his friend that he was considering attending a football match later that day. The match was between Charlton Athletic and Millwall FC – due to take place at Selhurst Park, which was approximately 30 minutes away from Sutton by car or train.

However, what happened next is a mystery. It isn’t known if Lee ever made it to the stadium, or if he went elsewhere. Either way, he vanished, with the final confirmed sighting of Lee being at 11am.

After Lee failed to return home that evening, his parents reported him as missing. The Police then launched an investigation.

The Investigation

Images of Lee were circulated in the aftermath of his disappearance. Appeals were made for any witnesses that saw Lee after 11am on the day of his disappearance. One man came forward to say they had seen Lee outside a Tesco store in Sutton at 2.20pm.

The Police used this sighting to create a timeline. This sighting meant that it was highly unlikely that Lee would have went to the football match – given that it kicked off at 3pm.

Despite this, detectives trawled through countless hours of CCTV of Selhurst Park, in case they were able to confirm that Lee had made it to the stadium. They were unable to find any sign of Lee appearing.

The Police carried out searches in local areas, and interviewed a range of people. Appeals for witnesses or those that knew Lee continued. Despite their efforts, Lee was not found.

Unfortunately, the Police were unable to find any leads. It seemed that Lee had vanished without a trace. The case quickly went cold, with no arrests being made.

Later Developments

The case failed to get much traction in the next few years. It took until 2012 for a development to take place – with another witness coming forward.

The witness said that they were aware Lee frequented an annexe known as “The Shed” – which was located at the back of St. Dunstan’s Church in Cheam. The investigators theorised that Lee may have returned to Cheam and visited The Shed.

The Shed was an unofficial youth club, and was an area that the Police were unaware of previously. Following investigations, they learned that a network of paedophiles were active in the area, and had links to The Shed.

In fact, a 75 year-old man named William Lambert, who worked as a gravedigger and ran The Shed, was jailed in 2011 over the sexual assault of four girls that attended The Shed. Lambert subsequently died from Covid-19 in 2021.

Therefore, the Police moved towards the theory that Lee had unfortunately fallen prey to a paedophile network. With this in mind, there was the belief that Lee’s remains could be buried nearby.

The Police excavated parts of the Church’s graveyard in 2012, and then again in 2013. They did so to try and find any remnants of Lee. But this failed to find anything of note.

A man named Brian Lunn Field was viewed as a suspect by many. Field lived in the area, and had abducted and later murdered a 14 year-old boy just four miles away from Sutton in 1968. Field has also been accused of abducting Patrick Warren and David Spencer – two young boys that went missing in 1996. It took until 2001 for Field to be imprisoned, when he was sentenced to life in prison for murder.

The case is well-known in the United Kingdom, and has often been featured on TV show Crimewatch. His face has also been displayed at the Selhurst Park football ground. Fresh appeals have regularly been launched.

For many years, Lee’s parents kept his bedroom in exactly the same state and layout, in the hope that he would one day return. His parents have fought to keep Lee’s case well-known.

Lee’s father Peter was a singer in the Missing People Choir – a group that appeared on the 2017 edition of the TV show Britain’s Got Talent. He took part alongside others that had a loved one missing.

Unfortunately, to this day there has been no sign of Lee Boxell. His whereabouts remain unknown.

Lee Boxell is one of the United Kingdom’s most infamous missing persons case

Theories

There are a few different theories that may explain what happened to Lee. Sadly, none of them are positive.

We take a look at the evidence for each:

Theory One: Lee Boxell was murdered by a paedophile ring at The Shed

The discovery of The Shed may play a key role in this case. It is known that a paedophile ring was operating in the area, and the man that ran the unofficial club was convicted of sexual offences.

With this in mind, it is possible that Lee was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time. Perhaps he stumbled upon a dangerous situation – he could have tried to interrupt an abusive situation that was happening there and then.

Alternatively, he may have been pounced upon by dangerous people at the time. He could have been murdered there and his body disposed of at an unknown location.

This definitely seems feasible. If Lee didn’t end up going to the football match – as believed – he may have returned towards home instead. He could have stopped off at the club, hoping to see friends, only to fall victim to a terrible event.

Theory Two: Lee Boxell was murdered elsewhere

Similar to the theory above, Lee could have fallen victim to someone away from The Shed. This could have been in Sutton, or back in Cheam.

Large cities always have the potential to be dangerous. Lee could have found himself in a dangerous situation, which unfortunately resulted in his death.

Alternatively, if the sighting of Lee after 2pm was correct, he might have decided to try and hitch-hike to get to the aforementioned football match. When doing so, an opportunistic predator may have sadly attacked Lee.

There are a number of ways that Lee could have found himself in a harmful situation. If he was murdered, it is likely his body was disposed of in a far away location.

Theory Three: Lee Boxell intentionally disappeared

In the absence of any evidence, there is always the chance that Lee intentionally vanished. Perhaps he saw something traumatising on that day, and stayed away from the area permanently.

Or perhaps deep down, Lee was very unhappy, and wanted to leave his life behind. As a result, he may have left and never returned.

However, there were no signs that Lee was unhappy, and at that age, pulling off a disappearance takes a lot of preparation and resourcefulness. It is doubtful if this could be done.

Moreover, if Lee had intentionally vanished, it is debatable as to whether he would be able to stay away from his parents for all this time. So while this theory is possible, there isn’t much weight behind it.

Reader Vote

Now that the above theories have been analysed, we invite you to cast your vote on the theory that you believe is most accurate in the poll below.

What Happened to Lee Boxell?
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Summary

The disappearance of Lee Boxell is a tragic case. The lack of answers to the many questions with this case is hard for the family to deal with.

Lee would now be in his 50s – meaning that it is highly unlikely he is still alive. Sadly for his family, it is looking like we will never know what happened to Lee.

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