Mrs. Frances Dale gave her lively four-year-old daughter Norma a rice cake as she dashed in from playing at 2.40 p.m., then dashed out again. Twenty minutes later Mrs. Dale got changed to go out, and went into the street to call Norma. There was no reply, nor was there any sign of the little girl.

That was on Saturday, September 21st, 1946, and for the rest of that day and night the search for little Norma went on, gradually expanding to take in most of the residents of the Tang Hall district in York.

It came to a tragic end next morning when an 11-year-old boy discovered her body on wasteland. She had been manually strangled but there was no evidence of sexual interference. It was clear that she had been killed elsewhere and that her body was dumped on the wasteland only an hour or so before it was found.

When Norma left home at 2.40 she was still carrying the rice cake given to her by her mother. The post-mortem showed that the rate of ingestion proved she was killed only minutes later – probably at the moment that her mother set out to look for her.

Forty years later Mrs. Dale told the Yorkshire Evening Post an extraordinary story about what she thought might have happened on that day. She said: “A married woman I knew told me she was having an affair with another man and Norma kept asking me about it. She had obviously overheard our conversation. She never missed a thing.

“I fear she may have gone up to this woman when her husband was there, and started asking her about it. I bet the woman grabbed her to stop her blabbing and may have accidentally killed her.”

What makes that unlikely is that Norma was manually strangled – almost impossible to do “accidentally.”