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Killer's public appeals his truth

In the days after Tia Sharp went missing Stuart Hazell's haggard face became a familiar sight on the TV as he made a series of appeals for help in finding the 12-year-old.

The 37-year-old looked old beyond his years and the strain of Tia's disappearance appeared to take its toll as he played the role of the grief-stricken family member, desperately pleading for the public's help in locating the schoolgirl safe and well.

Few then would have suspected that Hazell knew exactly what had happened to Tia as after subjecting her to a brutal killing he had stowed her body in the loft of his house while he and the girl's grandmother lived below.

But Hazell is not the first person to have made high profile police appeals for information about loved ones in a bid to cover up their crimes.

Karen Matthews was branded Britain's worst mother after she made tearful news appeal after news appeal, begging for help in finding her daughter, Shannon, when she apparently vanished in February 2008.

As with Tia's disappearance, a large-scale manhunt involving hundreds of police officers was launched around the area that nine-year-old Shannon was last seen, near her home in Dewsbury Moor, West Yorkshire.

Matthews maintained a constant presence in the media as detectives worked to find Shannon, who went missing less than a year after the case of Madeleine McCann hit the headlines.

In the 999 call reporting Shannon's disappearance, Matthews wept as she told the operator she had been ''everywhere I can think of, friends-wise, family and everything''.

In the 24 days her eldest daughter was missing, she did numerous television and media interviews, clutching the child's ''love teddy'' and appealing for her ''princess'' to return, telling reporters she cried herself to sleep at night.

In fact she was shedding nothing more than crocodile tears as Shannon was being kept less than a mile from her home, drugged and hidden out of sight in the base of a divan bed in the flat of Matthews' former partner's uncle, Michael Donovan.

Matthews, who was mother to six other children, was jailed for eight years after being found guilty of kidnap, false imprisonment and perverting the course of justice, with the court hearing the whole thing was set up for her to get her hands on reward money.

More recently was the shocking case of the Philpotts.

Five days after the devastating fire which killed six of their children, Mick and Mairead Philpott took part in an emotional press conference where they pleaded for information the blaze.

However, their upset demeanours failed to convince everyone that they were genuine, with police seeing through Mick's performance and he and his wife both being jailed for manslaughter last month.

Ian Huntley also fooled viewers into believing he was concerned about the disappearance of Soham schoolgirls Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman, when in reality he had murdered the 10-year-olds.

In one media interview he did after they had gone missing in 2002, he spoke of how residents in the Cambridgeshire village were "clinging on to" a "glimmer of hope" and said he had been praying for their safety.

Former glamour model Tracie Andrews played the part of the victim convincingly when she appeared red-eyed and bruised at a televised police press conference to describe the man who she claimed had subjected her fiance to a brutal road rage attack in December 1996.

She faced the glare of the media to plead for help in catching the fat man with ''starey eyes'' she claimed had murdered him, holding his mother's hand as she addressed the conference.

However her web of lies soon unravelled, and she was jailed for life with a minimum of 14 years after being found guilty of stabbing Lee Harvey, 25, 37 times in a country lane near their home in Alvechurch, Worcestershire.

In 1994, Gordon Wardell also went to elaborate lengths to deceive investigators when he claimed he came home from the pub to find his building society manager wife Carol being held at knifepoint by a man in a clown mask.

Police found him bound and gagged at the couple's home in Meriden, Warwickshire. He then appeared, with his eyes hidden behind dark glasses, at a packed press conference where he made an emotional plea for information to catch the gang he claimed at killed her.

Another brazen liar convicted of murdering his lover was Paul Dyson, who strangled his fiancee over a row about housework at their Hull home on Valentine's Day 2005.

He went on to carry out an emotional television appeal for help in finding Joanne Nelson, 22, before being jailed for life with a minimum of 16 years after his own mother turned him into police.

Former casino croupier Mitchell Quy made repeated television appeals for his missing wife to get in touch after he killed her and dumped her dismembered body on waste ground.

Quy even invited journalists into his home to talk about how his wife just ''upped and left'' one Christmas without saying goodbye to her two young children.

He was jailed in January 2001 for the murder of 21-year-old Lynsey at their home in Southport, Merseyside.

Garry Malone also played the part of the distraught husband and father as he appealed for help in finding his ''runaway'' wife Sharon.

He even used their two young sons to pull the heartstrings of members of the public who sympathised with him as the boys faced Christmas without their mother.

At a news conference and in interviews, he begged her to return home to Potters Bar, Hertfordshire, and spoke of how the children had asked about her unopened presents under the tree in 1999.

And in a case bearing similarities to that of Tia, soldier Miles Evans was jailed for the brutal murder of his stepdaughter Zoe in April 1998.

Just 48 hours after her disappearance he made an emotional plea for her to return.

''Zoe, we really, really want you to come home," he sobbed.

But just like Hazell, they were the hollow words of a murderer desperate to hide his tracks.

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