When a loved one goes missing

The National Missing Persons Helpline has been holding a nationwide walk to raise money for its work, which helps some 15,000+ cases each year.

In the final week, we talk to Rachel Edwards, whose brother Richey has been one of the most high profile cases.

Richey Edwards, guitarist with the Manic Street Preachers, was set to go to America with another bandmate when he vanished from his hotel back in 1995.

The last time Rachel Edwards saw her brother Richey was in January 1995. He was set to go on a promotional trip with his Manic Street Preachers' bandmate James.

"He certainly didn't give us any indication he was about to go missing," says Rachel. "He did say he didn't want to go to America but it wasn't in any dramatic way."

What has happened to Richey is a mystery: "None of it makes any sense," says Rachel. "He left his hotel in London but left a holdall. We then know that eight hours later he crossed the Severn Bridge - but it's not an eight-hour journey .

"He then went to his flat in Cardiff and left his passport and wallet there but picked up another holdall."

His car was found at Aust service station 17 days after he had gone missing. "The warden said the car had only been there a few days. It's a mystery why there have been no sightings of him.

"We know he took nothing with him so the possibilities of what has happened to him are few. He either hitchhiked, met somebody or he's dead."

Rachel wrote to local coroners: "They came up with eight unidentified bodies - none was him. That was eight people who have gone unnoticed - but they're all someone's brother or son," she says.

"Because there is a complex estuary movement some people are never washed up or are submerged in sediment."

Many attempts have been made to find the star - but ironically his fame has made the search harder, believes Rachel. "I don't think his disappearance was taken as seriously. People think he had plenty of money and everything to live for so there's no sympathy," she says.

"And the sightings are of someone like him playing a guitar - people are looking for a rock star. Plus, if he is alive, then the publicity may make returning harder."

To mark the seven years since Richey went missing, there was another media appeal in February in the hope it would jog people's memories.

"There were no new leads," says Rachel, 32. "Back in 1998 some people claimed they saw him in Goa and Fuerteventura. This escalated in the press and all the calls were logged, but I think it was just people hoping to make a story for themselves."

When a friend or relative goes missing, those left behind say the hardest part is not knowing what has happened to them.

"You just want a conclusion," says Rachel. "At first it's like ´┐Żoh, my God' and you look at various trails to go down, but it starts to run cold. Then you realise you might have to learn to live with not ever knowing."

Published Teletext Lifestyle 2002

Image courtesy of Wikipedia.