On the evening of 26 November 2000, Leeds teenager Leanne Tiernan, 16, was on her way home when she disappeared. Studying for her GCSEs, Tiernan had been shopping for Christmas gifts in the city with her friend, Sarah Whitehouse. The girls had shared a bus ride into the suburb of Bramley and parted near Whitehouse’s home. Tiernan then continued alone towards her own home but never arrived.
John Taylor had been lurking in the woods, waiting for a likely victim. It turned out to be Tiernan. As she walked alone along the unlit path known as Houghley Gill that she frequently used, Taylor grabbed her from behind. Whilst there were no eyewitnesses, it was later reported that someone had heard a stifled scream. Taylor put his hand over her mouth, blindfolded her and led her to his house. There he tied her hands behind her back and during the course of a sexual assault, strangled her with a scarf and a plastic ligature.
Tiernan’s parents, Michael Tiernan and Sharon Hawkhead, were divorced and her father was away on holiday at the time. When Tiernan did not return home from shopping, her mother immediately reported her missing to the police. She described her daughter as happy, confident, streetwise and never having gone missing before.