Until recently, 15-year-old Megan Stammers was known locally as a simple English schoolgirl from Eastbourne. Her mother described her as a “home girl”. People that knew her said she was “very quiet” and that she “kept herself to herself. No one thought Megan would be international news… until one day she went missing.
Stammers’ parents called police on Friday, September 21 when they realized she hadn’t slept over at a friend’s house as she had told them, and hadn’t gone to school the next day either.
In fact, Megan had boarded a Thursday ferry from Dover to Calais, France. But she didn’t go alone: CCTV footage from the boat showed she was accompanied her 30-year-old married math teacher Jeremy Forrest. The two were caught on camera holding hands.
Forrest was described as a well-liked teacher with a good reputation at Bishop Bell C of E School in Eastbourne. But by Tuesday, he was a wanted man after a European arrest warrant was issued for his capture.
Although Forrest was wanted on suspicion of child abduction, evidence on the internet implied that she might have gone willingly. Megan’s Tumblr page details her bucket list with one item “fall in love” struck-through as if it had already happened.
As the media scrutiny intensified, news leaked out that a relationship between teacher and student had been school gossip for months. According to the Telegraph newspaper, Forrest and Stammers were seen holding hands on a plane returning from a school trip to California in February. An official from the East Sussex County Council admitted that the alleged improper relationship was under investigation when Forrest and Stammers fled to France.
While Megan’s friends and family turned to social media to try to ascertain the girl’s whereabouts, Jeremy Forrest’s parents appeared on the BBC program “Crimewatch” to appeal to their son to get in touch with them.
Meanwhile, Forrest and Stammers were reportedly trying to seet up a normal life in France. They spent a few days enjoying Paris, where Forrest left his car before the pair took a train down to Bordeaux in southwest France, where the couple were spotted by several people who tipped off authorities. Allegedly running low on money, Forrest applied for a job at a bar. But on his way to the interview, he was stopped by French police earlier today after eight days on the loose.
Forrest appeared in a French court Friday. He will not be charged with any crimes in France, rather he will be held until he is extradited back to England.
Megan Stammers was taken into custody by police at the time. After a quick medical check-up, she was deemed unharmed and is scheduled to return to her family in England this weekend. Megan herself has made no public comment at this time, but her parents expressed relief that her daughter will be returned to them safe and sound. Stepfather Martin Stammers told reporters: “Danielle [Megan’s mother] and I are so relieved that Megan has been found safe and well and we just can’t wait to be reunited with her. Our family are overjoyed.”