A breakthrough in DNA could solve the 29-year-old cold-case murder of schoolboy Lee Boxell, The Sunday People can reveal.
The football-mad 15-year-old vanished in September 1988, after telling a pal he was going to a match.
After nearly three decades, Lee’s tormented parents feared they would die without knowing what happened to him.
But scientific advances have enabled forensic experts to produce a DNA profile of Lee from tiny samples on his belongings, including his Sutton United scrapbook.
Now his profile will be added to the National Missing Person DNA database to be checked for a match with any human remains that are found.
Dad Peter, 70, a retired civil servant, said: “It’s amazing they have been able to do this.
“Of course I don’t want Lee to be found dead.
“But we desperately want to know what happened so we can grieve. The pain of not knowing is unbearable.”
Lee, of Sutton, south London, vanished after telling a pal he might go to see Crystal Palace because Sutton United were away at Blackpool.
Mum Christine, 75, wrote last month to the non-league club’s manager ahead of their historic 5th round FA Cup clash with Premier League giants Arsenal to say how proud her son would have been of them.
Christine, who has a daughter and two grandchildren, said: “I miss him so much.”
Police have focused on a possible sighting of the teenager walking towards Cheam.
An unofficial youth club there is now known to be a haunt of paedophiles.
Detectives fear Lee was murdered when he tried to stop other kids being abused.
In 2014, three men and a woman were arrested but released without charge.