The daughter of one of the UK’s most notorious child killers has opened up about the terrible toll discovering her dad is a “monster” has taken her mental health.
Samantha Bryan was just 14 when she discovered her father was Ian Huntley, the man who murdered innocent schoolgirls Jessica Chapman and Holly Wells on August 4, 2002.
Huntley, then 23, had groomed and repeatedly raped her mother Katie, who was just 15 at the time, resulting in her falling pregnant with Samantha, The Sun reports.
But she escaped before the baby was born and later got married, keeping the secret for years from her child.
It was only while working on a school project about crime rates as a teenager that Samantha, now 25, stumbled across the truth.
“For years I’ve been haunted by the fear… that he’d come and find me, or try to kill me when I was all alone,” she told the publication in a new interview.
“But the monster who walks through my dreams wasn’t a figment of an overactive imagination. He was my real-life nightmare.”
The trainee administrator went on to explain the recurring nightmares about her father leave her feeling “sick”, adding she “hopes to God he never gets out”.
Huntley was convicted of the two murders in late 2003 after the bodies of Holly and Jessica Chapman were discovered near an RAF base almost two weeks after their disappearance.
The pair, who were best friends, were lured into school caretaker Huntley’s home while they popped out to buy lollies during a family barbecue.
Images of the missing girls’ faces were soon plastered over every national and local newspaper in the UK, and Huntley even gave TV interviews and took part in search parties.
Despite his convictions, which he was sentenced to 40 years for, Huntley – a caretaker at the school the girls’ attended – has never admitted the “truth” about what happened.
In court, he claimed both ten-year-olds died accidentally, alleging Holly drowned in his bath and that he inadvertently suffocated Jessica while trying to stifle her screams.
Tragically, the girls bodies were badly decomposed by the time they were found, that it was impossible to say whether they had been sexually assaulted or not.
In secret tapes recorded behind bars in 2018, Huntley confessed to deliberately killing Jessica to stop her raising the alarm while still insisting Holly’s death was an accident, the Daily Mail reported at the time.
It’s this detail that has prompted Samantha to write to her father and “beg” for their first face-to-face meeting at the prison where he’s almost halfway through his sentence.
“I have written to my biological father Ian Huntley and asked to meet him for the first time,” she told The Sun.
“I’m begging him to find the courage to finally tell the truth. I have asked to meet face to face so he can tell me in his own words.”
Should the meeting occur, it would surely be an emotional struggle for Samantha. Her mother was repeatedly raped and tormented by Huntley before her birth, the graphic details of which were revealed in a harrowing documentary which aired in 2017.
Katie told how she suffered psychological and physical abuse at the hands of the killer for two years after meeting Huntley when her mum Jacqui, who worked with him, asked him round for dinner.
“There was one time where I’d burnt his dinner — and he said I was useless I couldn’t get anything right,” she told Channel 5’s Soham Revisited, 15 Years On.
“He said to me that I’m making him eat that rubbish and tried to feed me cat food. He forced my head into it, he tried to get it in my mouth.”
During another incident she said she was getting out of the bath when Huntley “grabbed my foot and I fell and hit my head. Then he just like pinned me down and raped me”.
Katie – who met Huntley in 1997 – said he kept her as a “sex slave”, describing how she was “powerless under his spell and completely dominated by him” in a heartbreaking interview in 2016.
It was only after a particularly terrifying incident, which saw Huntley punch Katie’s stomach, raped her and then threw her down the stairs in a rage when she was three months pregnant, that she found the strength to seek help.
“I thought to myself that’s it, I’ve got to protect my baby because he is going to end up killing her,” she told the Channel 5 doco.
Today, this ordeal still troubles Samantha, though she said her mum often reassures her.
“She told me I saved her, because being pregnant with me gave her the strength to break free,” she explained.
“He did terrible, unspeakable things to her. I want him to say sorry for that. To know there is some remorse would mean something.”
Samantha however stressed her suffering is incomparable to that of Holly and Jessica’s parents.
“I don’t compare my pain in any way to their unimaginable agony but people have used my father’s crimes against me a lot through the years,” she explained.
“The main comment I used to get was, ‘The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree’, which has always cut very deep with me because I am the absolute opposite.
“The most recent time was in January when someone shouted at me, ‘Oi, are you Huntley’s daughter?’ I just carried on walking.”
Samantha said she will never forget the shock of discovering the true identity of her biological father and hopes if they ever meet he will “tell the truth and express deep remorse”.
“Perhaps expecting that to happen is a futile dream — but it’s one that I’m willing to try.”
Huntley, now 49, will not be considered for release until 2042.
He’s suffered a string of health problems since being locked up, and has also been the target of several prison attacks.