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среда, 8 февраля 2017 г.

'I can’t bear to think she died in pain'

It's been 21 years since Nicola Stork's sister vanished. As police link her case to serial killer Peter Tobin, Nicola longs to know the truth.

Watching the news on TV as serial killer Peter Tobin was convicted of another murder, Nicola Stork suddenly felt sick.
She had been glued to his three-day trial - pouring over reports of how he had abducted a young woman then raped and strangled her before burying her body in his garden. And with every new detail that emerged, her horror grew. For police believe Tobin is also responsible for the disappearance of Nicola's younger sister Louise Kay, who vanished without trace 21 years ago.
"Since Louise went missing, I've clung to the hope that one day she'll turn up safe and well," says Nicola. "I've imagined it in my head, what she might look like now and what we'd say to each other. How I'd take her in my arms and give her a big hug. On dark days, that's all I would think about.

Nicola is desperate to know what happened to her sister.
"Now her disappearance has been linked to Tobin, I can't stop thinking about whether she died like his other victims," she adds. "Did she suffer? Was she frightened and alone? It's torturing me."
Four years older than Louise, Nicola was the typical protective older sister. "When Louise was a baby I always wanted to hold her and help Mum take care of her. Louise was like my little doll," she says.
Although close, Nicola, now 44 and a care worker, says the sisters had very different personalities.
"Louise was a bit of a tomboy. She was out climbing trees, while I preferred playing inside with my dolls," she recalls.
"As we grew up, she was very bubbly and popular while I was a bit quieter. She was so full of life, with lots of friends.
"When I was in my teens, and especially after I left school aged 16 and started working, Louise thought I was so grown up and glamorous."
Nicola left home when she was 21 and Louise was 17, but they stayed close.
"We became good friends as well as sisters," she says. "We'd go clothes shopping together and gossip over cups of coffee. Louise would tell me how much she wanted a boyfriend, and we'd talk about who we both fancied."
In June 1988, Louise, who had just finished school, planned to go to the seaside resort of Newquay to work in a hotel for the summer.

Police suspect that Peter Tobin could be responsible for many unsolved murders.
"I'd made her some tapes of Madonna to play in the car on the journey. We arranged to see each other later in the week before she headed off," Nicola recalls.
But it was the last time she saw her. "A few days later, Mum rang to say Louise hadn't come home after a night out."
Initially, Nicola wasn't worried. But as the day went on the family became more anxious and that night decided to report Louise missing to the police.
By talking to Louise's friends, they pieced together that she had been out at a club in Eastbourne and was last seen driving a girlfriend home at 4.30am. She'd waved goodbye to her and said that she was driving back to her parents' house just outside the town.
She was never seen again and her car was never found.
"For months I couldn't sleep. I went out at all times driving round town looking for her," says Nicola.
"I kept telling myself she had run away, even though she had no reason to do so. I didn't let myself think something awful had happened to her," she adds. "It was too terrible to contemplate."
While coping with her own fears, Nicola also had to support her parents, Sylvia, now 71, and Paul, now 73, who were both frantic with worry.
"I was trying to comfort and reassure them, determined to stay calm even though I was terrified inside," says Nicola.
Louise's 19th birthday in November and then Christmas, came and went, with Nicola desperately hoping her sister would get in touch.
"I bought her cards and presents, hoping she would come back to open them. But she didn't," says Nicola.

That was almost 22 years ago. And still Nicola has no idea where her sister is.
"People will ask me how I manage to be so bright and cheerful," she says. "I'm not. It's a mask. It upsets my parents to see me sad.
"I hate seeing what this has done to them. To us all. Losing your sister, you feel like a part of you is lost too. Since she went missing, I've never felt complete."
Nicola adds: "I feel guilty when I catch myself laughing at something. Since Louise vanished we've never been able to be a normal, happy family."
All the milestones in Nicola's life have been marred by the fact her sister hasn't been there to share them with her.
Louise would have been a bridesmaid at Nicola's wedding in July 1990. Rather than choose someone else, Nicola had no bridesmaids.
In 1992, Nicola gave birth to twin sons, Josh and Ben, now 17, wishing her sister could meet her new nephews.
Still Nicola hoped that Louise would turn up one day with some explanation for her absence.
But in 2007, a police inspector and constable arrived at her parents' home. They sat the family down and explained to them that they suspected Louise had fallen victim to a serial killer called Peter Tobin.
A 63-year-old convicted paedophile, Tobin had just been jailed for the brutal murder of Polish student Angelika Kluk.
He had been working as a handyman at St Patrick's Church in Glasgow, where Angelika, 23, was also helping out, when he attacked her in September 2006.
Tobin raped her, smashed her skull and stabbed her to death, before dumping her body under the floorboards.
Detectives, certain Angelika was not Tobin's only victim, had started looking into cases of other missing women.
"They told us they were suspicious he could be linked to Louise's disappearance," says Nicola. "We later found out that Tobin lived only 24 miles away from my parents' home at the time Louise vanished.
"At first, I didn't think too much about it. There had been false leads in the past, including a sighting of Louise soon after she went missing," she says. "I didn't have much hope this development might give us some answers."
But it wasn't long until she heard Tobin's name again.
In November 2007, six months after he was jailed, detectives - who had linked him to other missing girls through DNA evidence - began digging up the back garden of his former home in Margate, Kent.
There they made a gruesome discovery. Buried in a shallow grave was the body of 18-year-old Dinah McNicol, ¿¿bound, gagged and wrapped in refuse bags. Dinah went missing in August 1991, while hitchhiking home from a festival.
A few metres away lay the body of Vicky Hamilton. The 15 year old was abducted by Tobin as she waited for a bus home to Redding, Scotland, on February 10, 1991.
Her body had been cut in two and her remains wrapped in bin bags before being hidden under a layer of concrete.
"I felt physically sick when I heard about those girls on the news. And when Tobin's name was mentioned, my blood ran cold," Nicola recalls. "Dinah especially reminded me so much of Louise - the same age and a brunette."
Tobin, already in jail for killing Angelika, was found guilty of Vicky's murder after a month-long trial in December 2008 at the High Court in Dundee.
And last December he was convicted of murdering Dinah at Chelmsford Crown Court.
Police are now piecing together Tobin's movements over the last 40 years to see if he can be connected to other unsolved cases.
Louise is one of the most likely victims, along with Barbara Mayo, a 24-year-old teacher from London who was raped and strangled in 1970, and Jessica Earl, 22, who went missing from Eastbourne in 1980. Officers have taken a sample of Louise's DNA to see if they can link her to Tobin.
So, for Nicola and her family, the pain goes on.
Nicola now lives with second husband Des Stork, 49, and her two sons in Eastbourne. She says the past has made her an overprotective mum.
"I like to know where the boys are going, who they're with, and when they'll be back," says Nicola. "As a mother I can't imagine losing one of them like my parents lost Louise. The pain they've felt is indescribable. It's destroyed their lives.
"Since my boys were very young, they've known I have a sister who's missing. As they got older, I told them more about what happened. They understand my overprotectiveness and they don't give me any trouble."
Nicola has spent the last few years trying to come to terms with the fact that Louise will not be coming home. And while she hopes for closure, she is terrified of finding out the truth behind her disappearance.
"If she was murdered, I can't bear the thought of her lying somewhere cold, all alone. We want to lay her to rest so we can visit her and keep her safe," she says.
"On the other hand, could we deal with hearing that she had suffered and been afraid?
"When Dinah and Vicky's bodies were found in Tobin's garden, in a strange way I envied their families. They finally had some closure, they had their answer," says Nicola. "But it was such an awful answer, were they better off not knowing? And could I cope with learning such a terrible truth? I just don't know.
"I loathe Tobin - he's truly evil. If we find out that he killed Louise and kept that information from the police all this time, I'm scared how angry I'll be. For once in his life he should do the decent thing and put us out of our misery."

Peter Tobin's trail of terror

The victims:
  • Angelika Kluk, 23:

    The Polish student's body was found under the floorboards of St Patrick's church in Glasgow in 2006. She had been beaten, raped and stabbed to death.
  • Vicky Hamilton, 15: 

    Tobin picked up Vicky in February 1991 while she was waiting for a bus home to Redding, near Falkirk. Her body was found buried in the back garden of Tobin's home in Margate, Kent.
  • Dinah McNicol, 18: 

    Dinah went missing in August 1991 after hitchhiking from a festival in Hampshire. Her body was found next to Vicky's remains in 2008.
The suspected victims
  • Barbara Mayo, 24 

    Londoner Barbara went missing in October 1970 after hitchhiking. Her battered body was found in a Derbyshire wood, near the M1. She had been raped and strangled.
  • Jacqueline Ansell-Lamb, 18 

    Hitchhiker Jacqueline's body was discovered by the M6, near Mere in Cheshire, in March 1970, six days after she went missing. She had been sexually assaulted and strangled.
  • Pamella Exall, 22 

    Law student Pamella, vanished while on holiday in Norfolk in 1974.
  • Jessie Earl, 22 

    In May 1980, student Jessie disappeared from her Eastbourne bedsit. Her remains were found nine years later in undergrowth at Beachy Head.
  • Patsy Morris, 14 

    Patsy was strangled on Hounslow Heath, west London, in 1980.

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