Ben Needham was 1.5 yearold when he mysteriously disappeared from the island of Kos on July 24, 1991. His family was on the island combining work and holidays and was staying in a caravan in the rural Herakles area in Kos.
On the day of his disappearance, his mother of Kerry Needham was working in a hotel on the island. The little boy was playing with his cars and going to the farmhouse that his grandfather was repairing. His disappearance was perceived several hours later.
Around mid-afternoon, his grandmother was aware of his absence. At first she thought Steven her 17-year-old son, who had left the farmhouse with his motorbike, had taken Ben with him.
The mobilization was big, but the child was not found.
Someone in the island who was suffering from serious health problems, mostly psychologically involved in acts of unlawful interference, told police officers that he found a kid on the road and threw it in a well. The investigations were fruitless.
Many rumors were heard at the time even for the family members of the little child, but most of them had to do with the version of kidnappings that the English had been searching for for years.
Aggeliki Nikolouli claimed from the first researches that the answer to the Ben’s Thriller is hiding somewhere on the island. That the child was probably the victim of an accident.
The mother, grandmother and grandfather did not stop looking for the unlucky boy and sensitized public opinion. Some initially offered the amount of 530 thousand pounds to anyone who would give the information which could solve the puzzle.
Scotland Yard, after editing photographic material from the family, delivered a picture of Ben at the age of 21. The photographic documentary brought English journalists from ITV News Channel who were persistently researching, to “Tunnel” .
The sketch with Ben’s potential image at the age of 21
Testimonies to “Tunnel” for young men who looked like Ben
Throughout the years, Needham family utilized every piece of information that came to “Tunnel” and at their website which had been created for little Ben and often traveled to Greece to check it out.
There have been many testimonies for young people who matched Ben’s description and stayed in Greece, Cyprus, and even Australia.
In 1997, a phone call from a prisoner in Larissa which arrived at the British Embassy rose the hope of the family and diplomats.
For this incident, former British Consul of Athens Gordon Bernard spoke for the first time on the “Calendar” show. The prisoner informed the diplomats that he knew where Ben was and would hand him over to the consul, at a specific date and place. But the phone calls stopped suddenly, no one went to the appointment and Ben was not found.
With the abduction scenario being the most prevalent, surveys were conducted in Roma camps in Veria, Thessaloniki and other areas.
In 2011 “Calendar” program of ITV TV station in Yorkshire once again called for the help of Angeliki Nikolouli.
The only way to find the answer to Ben’s mystery was to re-publicize the case in Greece. Since that presentation in “Light at the Tunnel”, the family has been able to gather more information than it had gathered over the past twenty years. All testimonies were given to the Authorities.
The first organized surveys in Kos
In their possession the researchers had a genetic material sample of the little boy who had been kept for years in the Children’s Hospital of his birthplace in Sheffield. There was also a map of the area that he was lost which researchers literally wanted to “plow” in order to find the remains of the unfortunate child.
With the collaboration of special archaeologists and anthropologists, British and Greek police officers searched for an area of three acres.
In the one-week survey, were used excavators, magnetometers, ground penetrating radar and specially trained dogs. Police and firefighters went down to the wells of the area, some of them reaching 36 meters deep. The two special X-ray equipment did not detect human bones. Among the findings that were not announced at the time, there were pieces of toys, metal objects and a children’s sandal.
In December 2012 “Tunnel” once again opened the file of the case that continued to be of great concern of the media all over the world.
Angeliki Nikolouli, in collaboration with the English journalists, brought to light new facts about the disappearance.
Ben’ s mother Kerry Needham, traveled from England with the producer of “Calendar” show, Mark Witty and were found in the show’s studio.
In “Tunnel” were given some information for children with common characteristics with Ben. One of them triggered a turmoil in the mother because the little boy she saw at the age of 6, looked like her missing child. This photograph was edited by Scotland Yard specialists to decide finally that this child was not Ben.
There was also a case of a young man who was found in Limassol in 2013. The young man who appeared in an amateur video and looked amazing like Ben’s sketch, was presented himself at the Limassol Police Headquarters who were looking for him. Someone had handed over to the Police the video that had him recorded at family times. In his testimony he said his parents were from Romania and lived in Cyprus with relatives. It was found that he has nothing to do with the missing English boy.
All these years several young people gave DNA sample for the case with a negative result.
Shocked the new testimony for Ben
The most recent relevant testimony arrived at Tunnel on Friday, January 30, 2015 .
A Greek businessman who lived in Germany and was in prison for financial reasons, claimed to Tunnel that Roma had kidnapped the little boy. He mentioned the name of a family who allegedly was involved in the kidnapping.
His information was shared by another Roma who had a close relationship with the family during 1996. He told him that those who took Ben, found him alone on the street, put him to sleep and hid him in the lorry truck beneath the watermelons they were selling. This way they managed to leave the island without being noticed.
The testimony was all over the British press. It was added to other related that Needham family had brought and handed over to the Yorkshire Police.
Shortly afterwards, the witness testified to the British Authorities but his claim was not established.
British officers in “Tunnel”
In 2015, in the South Yorkshire Police, a new group of researchers was set up to return to the island for new excavations. The British officers of “Operation Ben”, as it was named, were funded with more than one million pounds to investigate old and new evidence.
In May 2015 once again they called for Tunnel assistance as the most reliable research show. Senior officers did not hesitate to appear in the studio to appeal to witnesses.
Their presence in the show caused the interest of the British and European press, which made extensive references to Angeliki Nikolouli and the contribution of Tunnel in the investigations for little Ben. During the live broadcast in Greece, foreign correspondents’ teams recorded discreetly the journalist’s research and British appeals for specific information.
The fans of the show remembered the surprise of Angeliki Nikolouli when another piece of information arrived at Tunnel studio a few months later.
The same moment this information accompanied by photographs arrived at the show, Angeliki Nikolouli was talking live via Skype, with the member of “Operation Ben” research team, inspector Panayiotis Dedes.
At the same time, British journalists who were watching the show were communicating with Tunnel to be informed about the flow of information.
The officer was stunned when he saw the photos. He was surprised by the similarity with Ben Needham and was content to say that information like this forced them to return to Greece for deeper research, just as it happen. Eventually the young man from Corfu had nothing to do with the missing boy.
Following their appearance in Tunnel, British officers checked 3,000 testimonies, blocked sixty people indicating they might have be Ben Needham and traveled to Australia to find answers to this mystery.
New research circle in Kos
In September 2016 they returned to Kos after a specific testimony that wanted the little boy to be the victim of an accident.
A few hours before the end of the operation, the British police found in a dump in the same area, a toy car similar to what the little boy played when he disappeared. It was discovered next to a can, which, according to the experts, dates back to 1991, a period when the child was lost.
Human blood on the findings
Almost a year later, the British announced that the special laboratories found human blood on the car and the children’s sandal, believed to belong to Ben.
The results of the DNA test are expected to give the definitive response to the thriller that shocked public opinion.