Police have identified the young victim as Oliver Stephens, and the murder reportedly happened just yards from his home. The boy’s family says that he was stabbed in the back of the neck while walking through a field in their suburban town.
According to Oliver’s parents, Stuart and Amanda Stephens, the murder took place just 250 yards from their home.
Police are now investigating the possibility that the young boy was lured to the field by other teens who had planned an ambush. Police are examining messages that were sent to the young boy through Snapchat in the hours leading up to the incident.
Five teens, four boys, and a girl, all between the ages of 13 and 14, have been arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to commit murder and remain in custody.
Oliver’s family said that they are facing “every parents’ worst nightmare”.
In a statement to the media, the family said, “In his final moments he must have been terrified. Fighting to get home, he had everything to live for. We now have only memories. An Olly sized hole has been left in our hearts. Gentle shoulder charge, love ya mate XXX,” according to The Sun.
The family also thanked those who battled to save their “hilariously funny, charming and beautiful” son, including the police and medical team that was called in to help.
They continued: “My wife, daughter and I would like to whole heartedly thank the following people:
“A Good Samaritan that tried valiantly to save Oliver, an off duty doctor who also offered her help, all the emergency services that attended the scene at Bugs Bottom, Emmer Green who have been exemplary, the forensic team and all staff that are still on the case, and our families, neighbours, friends and colleagues who have sent their valued love and support.”
The statement said that Oliver faced numerous challenges in his life, including Autism and other conditions that made social situations difficult.
“Oliver was an enigma, having both Autism and suspected Pathological Demand Avoidance he became a challenge we never shied away from. He could get his own way with a wry smile and a cheeky grin. He always stood his ground and fought for the underdog whilst having an amazing depth of love, warmth and wit,” the statement read.
Oliver was a student at Highdown School and Sixth Form Centre, and it is believed that the suspects were as well. Police fear that Oliver was killed in some type of senseless “revenge” attack over a trivial childhood disagreement.
Highdown School Headteacher Rachel Cave said: “This student was part of our community and many students and staff knew him well. For a life to be ended at such a young age is a total tragedy. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family. Many have been deeply affected by this tragedy.”
Cave said that in normal circumstances school administrators would open the school for students before the start of the new term, but that is not currently possible because of the lockdowns. However, the school is arranging counselling support and establishing an electronic book of condolence.
“We are currently unable to do this of course but are arranging and will be establishing an electronic book of condolence. Highdown is a supportive and close-knit community, we will work together over the coming days and weeks,” Cave said.
Neighbours nearby say they were shocked by the incident, but it is not clear if any of them witnessed the event. Police are now appealing for information and are asking any witnesses to come forward.
Senior Investigating Officer Detective Superintendent Kevin Brown, head of Thames Valley Police’s Major Crime Unit, said: “Our thoughts remain with Olly’s family at this incredibly difficult time. I would urge anyone who has any information that they believe is relevant to this investigation, no matter how small you think it is, to please get in touch. If you do have any images or footage I would ask that you please do not share it on social media, but instead report it to us.”
If you have any information about this incident, please call police on 101 or online, quoting reference 43210002635, or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.