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воскресенье, 5 февраля 2017 г.

Missing and presumed dead, estate agent SUZY LAMPLUGH’S disappearance is one of the UK’s most mysterious unsolved crimes.

Twenty-four years on, her sister LIZZIE BINGHAM, 40, remembers the woman her family will never forget...
Lizzie focuses on the happy memories of Suzy

'The phone rang. "They're digging again," said Dad, his tone flat and resigned.
He was referring to the police investigation into my sister's disappearance.
Suzy vanished in 1986, aged 25, and for years we hoped she'd be found somewhere, safe. Not any more.
Our family have been told countless times that the police have new information about where her body might be buried. They reopen the investigation, we sit by the phone, nursing a mix of hope and dread but it always comes to nothing.
Last month, was no different. After acting on a tip-off about a possible grave in a meadow near Worcestershire, the police eventually realised it was another false lead. We were still no closer to being able to lay Suzy to rest.

Suzy before she went missing
Of course we were upset, but we'd all had to confront the worst years ago.
Suzy worked as an estate agent in London and on July 28, 1986, she showed a client called Mr Kipper around an empty house in Fulham, west London. She's not been seen since.
After a huge police investigation and TV appeals, my sister was officially declared dead, presumed murdered eight years later, in 1994. We finally had to accept the sister and daughter we adored wasn't coming back. Deep down, we'd known this for a long time. Suzy would never just leave, saying nothing.
Growing up in East Sheen, south-west London, our sister Tamsin and brother Richard, a year younger and older than Suzy respectively, went to boarding school, but Suzy chose a local school. She didn't want to leave home. When she eventually moved out aged 19 she got a place just a few miles away.
Suzy was nine years older, and with our parents Diana, now 74, and Paul, now 78, working long hours, she was a mother figure to me. Mum was a fitness club manager and Dad a solicitor, so it was often Suzy who'd help get me ready for school and cook my dinner.
She could read me better than anyone else. If I was down in the dumps she'd sit on the edge of my bed and say: 'Come on, tell me what's wrong.' As we grew up, our relationship became more sisterly. She gave me advice on spots, boys and how to dress. She always used to say: 'Whatever you do, have boys as friends and treat them as equals.'
That's the way she was with her own boyfriends and, as a result, she had lots of male friends - she was one of those people both men and women liked.
She was a full-on '80s girl, always wearing the latest fashions, with beautifully done hair and full make-up. She had such a big heart, too. She was my idol.
When I went off to boarding school for the first time she bought me the Human League and Bucks Fizz albums, along with a load of Jilly Cooper novels so I could distract myself if I was homesick, and she wrote to me every week without fail.
Everyone LOVED her


We don't remember Suzy ever causing the family any trouble. She blossomed into a striking young woman with a good job, a huge group of friends and a busy social life. She'd always be off somewhere glamorous, like the Henley Royal Regatta.
In the months before she went missing, she'd take me out for lunch when I was home from school so we could have a sisterly catch-up.
Around the time of her disappearance she was just a normal young woman, living life to the full.
The last time I saw my sister was at the beginning of July 1986, I'd just turned 16. Our sister Tamsin, then 24, had moved to New Zealand, and I decided to visit her; Suzy drove me to the airport.
She was in great spirits and told me to have fun and live for the moment. It was the last time I ever saw her.

From left: Richard, Suzy, Lizzie and Tamsin
It was three weeks later that Tamsin and I got the news that would break our hearts. We'd been travelling around New Zealand, and Mum and Dad tracked us down to a remote campsite in the north and called us on a payphone.
'Suzy went to show a client round a house and didn't come back,' Mum said, her voice tightly controlled. 'But you mustn't worry as everyone is out searching for her.'
They were trying so hard to stay strong for us, but the only way we could cope was to tell ourselves it was a horrible mistake - Suzy would turn up safe. She had to.
Mum and Dad insisted Tamsin and I didn't change our travel plans, adamant that Suzy would be found. But it was hard, especially when the details of her disappearance hit the news in New Zealand. Seeing our sister's face on the TV, we knew we had to return home. Somehow, we thought that might bring her back to us.
I was in DENIAL


Back in England, the family tried to stay strong, but we were in limbo. Looking back, we spent the first few months hoping for the best. I started back at school and tried to carry on as normal, but it was hard. Friends avoided talking about Suzy, which made me feel very isolated.

John Cannan
For months, every morning I'd wake up and for a second everything felt normal - then it would hit me. She was gone. I was in denial, really.
Every Valentine's day Suzy would send me a card. It was silly but it always made me laugh. That year, though, I didn't get one, and I knew then that Suzy wasn't coming back. Ever. I cried all day.
It was different for Mum and Dad. Without a body, it felt like betrayal to believe Suzy wouldn't be coming home.
In December 1986, Mum set up the Suzy Lamplugh Trust, which campaigns for safety awareness for women. Dad helped and it was a way of channelling their grief, anger and frustration.
In 1994, the police declared Suzy dead, which on one level was closure, but without a body or a funeral it was hard to mourn. We held a memorial service - one of celebration, in keeping with the type of person she was. I couldn't bear to think of what might have happened to her. The thought of her in pain or scared is so upsetting.
As time passed, I learnt to live without Suzy as best I could, although there were constant reminders. Her name is so familiar to people that I'd get called Suzy by mistake, and before I married and changed my name, whenever I told a stranger my surname you could see the question in their eyes.
Now, every family celebration is tinged with sadness. My wedding day in 2001 to Johnny, 39, was hard. We talked about Suzy in our speeches, but knowing I was setting out on a new life she'd never experience was very upsetting.
Johnny and I have three children - Lottie, eight, Archie, six and three-year-old Bunny - who all have a little bit of her in them, which is bittersweet.
I've made sure they know about their Auntie Suzy. There are photos of her all over the house, and from early on I told them I had a sister who was taken.
It's never easy, but I don't try to hide the fact it was something bad. It's a way of ingraining into them all the importance of safety.
In 2002, the Metropolitan Police named John Cannan, 56, who's already serving a life sentence for the rape and murder of a woman, as their prime suspect based on information that linked him to Suzy, including the fact he was apparently known as Mr Kipper in prison, and his likeness to the photofit. But he's never confessed to the crime and there wasn't enough evidence to charge him.
I hope she's in PEACE


My wish is to know she's at peace, and to have somewhere we could visit her.
We've had other difficulties to cope with, too. Seven years ago, Mum, who was awarded an OBE for her work with the Suzy Lamplugh Trust, suffered a stroke, and she was later diagnosed with Alzheimer's. She now needs full-time care in a nursing home. Mum doesn't remember Suzy any more, which I like to think of as a release from her grief.
Dad, who was also awarded an OBE in 2005 for his work with the Trust, lives alone and spends his time visiting Mum and acting as a trustee for the charity.
We all live with this hole at the heart of our lives. When I read about Madeleine McCann and Claudia Lawrence, I pray their families' ordeal will not last as long as ours. I only knew Suzy for 16 years, but she brought a great deal of joy. I try to focus on the happy memories I have."
  • For advice on personal safety, visit Suzylamplugh.org.



July 28, 1986 Estate agent Suzy Lamplugh is reported missing after failing to return after showing a client a house.
July 30, 1986 Diana and Paul Lamplugh appeal for Suzy's return. Forty police officers are assigned to the case.
December 1986 Diana and Paul start the Suzy Lamplugh Trust. The National Missing Persons Helpline is also founded.
October 1987 Suzy Lamplugh's case is officially closed due to a lack of substantial evidence, but the file on her remains open.
April 1989 Police interview serial rapist and killer John Cannan, who's thought to have met Suzy when he was working as a driver.
February 1994 Suzy is declared dead, despite her body never being discovered.
May 2000 Suzy's case is reopened and BBC's Crimewatch makes an appeal. Police do a fingertip search at a disused brickworks, but find nothing.
November 2002 Police name Cannan as their main suspect. He's currently serving a life sentence for the murder of Shirley Banks in 1987.
August 10, 2010 After a tip-off, radars are used at an old Army barracks to search for Suzy's body. Nothing was found and the search continues.

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