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It's 20 Years Since Rocker Richey Went Missing...But He Was Not The Only One - The Sun, 29th January 2015

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Title: It's 20 Years Since Rocker Richey Went Missing...But He Was Not The Only One
Publication: The Sun
Date: Thursday 29th January 2015
Writer: Grant Rollings



TheSun290115.jpg



Manic Street Preachers guitarist Richey Edwards disappeared from the face of the earth 20 years ago on Sunday - but he has never vanished from the thoughts of his loved ones.

They do not know if the Welsh rocker, then 27, is alive or dead, or what state of mind he was in when he was last seen, at 7am on February 1, 1995.

They do know they are still bitterly angry about how little effort police seemed to put into finding him.

And they are not alone in their anguish. Two decades on those left behind after other beloved family members disappeared in 1995 are still desperate for answers.

Here The Sun speaks to Richey's sister Rachel Elias, and to the families of three others who vanished that same year, about living with their pain for so long.

Rachel, now 45, is still fuming, believing cops behaved as if Richey was not worth looking for.

And she fears that young men who go missing now are still let down by authorities who seem to put far more effort into a search when a woman or child vanishes.

She said: "He wasn't actively searched for and I hoped that would have been different.

"The contradiction with the police is that they see lots of young adult men disappear and they say, 'He's a man who's gone away. He's got his civil liberties, he's got a right to go'.

"There seems to be a lack of sympathy with missing young adult men and I don't think that has changed much."

When a child or young woman goes missing the police will start searching within 24 hours. For an adult male they wait three days.

On the day Richey vanished he had been due to fly to the US on a promotional tour with lead singer James Dean Bradfield, now 45.

In the two weeks beforehand he had withdrawn £200 a day from his bank account, adding up to £2,800 by the day he was due on the flight.

He was last seen checking out of the Embassy Hotel in Bayswater, West London.

Richey suffered from depression and two weeks later his Vauxhall Cavalier, its battery flat, was found in a car park near notorious suicide spot the Severn Bridge.

Rachel, who now volunteers for the charity Missing People, said: "Richard's car was found in the car park but there was no search of the river. More could have been done."

There are enough odd things about the disappearance, along with the fact that no body was found, to leave Rachel unable to conclude in her own mind that her brother committed suicide. For a start, Richey had previously insisted to is family that "the 'S' word, that does not enter my mind".

Rachel added: "We've never been able to determine why his car battery was flat, either he had to get out of the car because it wouldn't go or he'd deliberately run it down. It's a total mystery. He even put the steering lock on the steering wheel, which is also quite odd. Why would you worry about someone stealing your car if you were chaotically thinking of ending your life?"

She insisted: "There is a possibility he's still alive."

Indeed, there have been several alleged "sightings" of the songwriter by members of the public, including ones in in India and Spain.

Police took a whole two years to analyse CCTV footage from the bridge - which ended up giving no clues - but in the meantime Rachel was on the case. She tirelessly contacted coroners offices along the Severn Estuary to see if any bodies matched his description.

And she took a comb with his hair in it to the police to take a DNA sample.

Rachel said: "We took it to the Met Police, where he had first been reported missing, and they took a full DNA profile from it."

His DNA was then matched against all unidentified bodies, but his was not among them.

There are currently 1,282 bodies that the police cannot identify. Meanwhile, a person goes missing in the UK every two minutes, and 3,000 a year are still missing after one year.

Richey was declared "presumed dead" on November 23, 2008.

Rachel and her parents, Graham and Sherry, put the process in motion because they needed a "presumption of death" certificate in order to wind up his affairs.

Rachel, who lives in Blackwood, South Wales, recalled: "It was difficult. I had to swear my oath on a Bible before signing that I presumed he was dead.

"Then there came back a certificate saying 'Richard Edwards deceased' and that he died on the 1st of February 1995.

"There's an unreal element to it because we don't really know he is dead."

Rachel now wants to change the law so that relatives of missing people can get "guardianship" of their financial affairs without having to declare them dead.

After Richey disappeared the remaining Manic Street Preachers, now a trio, went on to win four Brit awards, have two No1 singles and a No1 album.

They recently went on tour to play their classic 1994 album The Holy Bible, whose lyrics were mainly written by Richey. But Rachel no longer listens to her brother's music and she has not spoken to Richey's bandmates since they attended her father's funeral in October 2012.

She says: "My dad died never knowing what had happened to Richard.

"You have to wake up to the possibility that you'll never know.

"You have to live with uncertainty."

Rachel has recorded a charity single called I Miss You with the Missing People Rock Choir. It can be downloaded at the website missingpeople.org.uk/imissyou.

RIDDLE NEVER SOLVED

FEBRUARY 1, 1995: Richey last seen at 7am, checking out of the Embassy Hotel in Bayswater, West London. He had been staying there prior to a planned flight to the US. He is believed to have driven to his flat in Cardiff, because his passport and credit card were later found there.

FEBRUARY 2: Reported missing. Family places an ad in their local newspaper, saying: "Richard, please make contact. Love Mum, Dad and Rachel".

FEBRUARY 5: Fan reports seeing Richey at Newport bus station in Wales.

FEBRUARY 7: Taxi driver drives a man, suspected of being Richey, from Newport to hometown Blackwood, then to Severn View service station.

FEBRUARY 14: Richey's Vauxhall Cavalier given a parking ticket at the Severn View service station.

FEBRUARY 17: Car is reported to the police as abandoned.

NOVEMBER 1996: A lecturer from Neath College, Wales, reports seeing Richey at a market in Goa, India.

NOVEMBER 1998: A British barmaid in the Canaries says she saw Richey in a bar in Corralejo, on Fuerteventura.

OCTOBER 2004: A fan reports spotting Richey on a beach in Lanzarote.

NOVEMBER 23 2008: Parents Graham and Sherry, and sister Rachel, ask a court to declare Richey "presumed dead".