Southall is a busy suburb of West London, colloquially known as ‘Little India’ because of its high population of Asians. Despite the name, it is a diverse area with people from many backgrounds ranging far and wide. It’s a bustling part of town, with streets bustling with activity. And on a February evening in 1990, it’s where 5-month-old Ames Glover disappeared.
It was around 6pm, and Ames had been left in the locked car of his father, Paul, who had parked up his blue Ford Sierra in South Road so that he could go and get some cash and pick up a takeaway. When he returned to the car twenty minutes later - Ames was nowhere to be seen.
Paul had separated from Ames’s mother, Shanika, and both parents were questioned in relation to the disappearance. When no witnesses came forward saying that they had seen Ames in the car or being kidnapped, suspicion naturally fell on Paul, particularly as his car was parked in a busy junction which was usually packed with traffic and pedestrians at that time of the evening. Not only that, but Paul had been due to return Ames to Shanika earlier, but she had reluctantly agreed for him to bring him home later. Despite his claims that the car was locked, there was no evidence or damage to suggest that it had been broken in to.
Paul was arrested and the garden of his hostel dug up for clues, but ultimately he was released without charge, and police could find no evidence to implicate either him or Shanika. Shortly after Ames went missing, the media revealed that the baby had been on the council's 'at risk' register until the morning of the crime.
In the months following Ames's disappearance, Shanika suffered a miscarriage and attempted suicide twice. She and Paul moved back in together, but their reunion wasn't to last, and eventually they split up for good.
During that time, police interviewed thousands of people and took hundreds of witness statements, but couldn't come up with any solid leads. Following a tip-off, they even travelled to Paul's native Ghana, but found no trace of the missing boy. The case disappeared from the pages of the newspapers, drawing criticism from the local community. Perhaps Ames might still be being talked about, they said, if he was white.
It wasn't until Ames's 14th birthday that his name made its way into the public eye once more, when the case was reopened by Scotland Yard. Police appealed for fresh information and offered a monetary reward of £10,000. Paul, who was believed to be living in North London at the time, was not a part of the appeal, and sadly no new leads could be established.
Shanika went on to remarry and had two more children, although almost three decades later, the void left by baby Ames is one that still lingers. With just a few photos to remember him by, she holds onto hope that maybe one day she might know what became of her son.