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Until Richey's Found - Alive Or Dead - Family Can't Rest - The Western Mail, 6th July 2010

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Title: Until Richey's Found - Alive Or Dead - Family Can't Rest
Publication: The Western Mail
Date: Tuesday 6th July 2010
Writer: Nathan Bevan
Photos: Richard Swingler


The sister of missing Manic Street Preachers guitarist Richey Edwards has spoken for the first time about the long and fruitless search for her brother.

For the past 15 years Rachel Elias has seen her hopes raised time and again by "sightings" of the music star, only for them to be proved false.

The 40-year-old from Blackwood said she still clings on to a "residue of hope" that one day she'll find him, either alive or dead, so that her family can finally share a sense of closure.

Edwards disappeared having checked out of his west London hotel the morning of February 1, 1995. He had been due to leave on an American promotional tour.

"I never dreamed when that Richey disappeared in February 1995 that I'd still be waiting here today wondering where he is," said Rachel, "We all just thought he'd missed the plane and would be on the next one out.

"It wasn't until later when we found his passport that we realised he'd had no intention of going in the first place. None of us saw it coming."

Indeed, after a turbulent 1994 during which the guitarist's drinking and self-harming had spiralled out of control - culminating in him slashing his chest with a knife on stage in Thailand - he'd undergone psychiatric care and seemed a lot happier.

"Just before the day he vanished he'd been talking to me and our dad about a song the band had been asked to write for a forthcoming Judge Dredd film, he was really excited about that," she said.

But after two weeks the family received news that 27-year-old Edwards' silver Vauxhall Cavalier had been found abandoned in a service station car park near the Severn Bridge, a notorious suicide spot, prompting many to immediately assume the star had taken his own life.

"We all went into shock when we heard that, because we all thought Richey had turned a corner not longer before and was starting to look like he was working out his problems," said Rachel.

"When the parking attendant found the car the steering lock was on and the battery was flat, so we can't be sure if Richey had simply been on his way somewhere and just ran out of fuel, or if he'd been living in his car during that time and had run the battery right down from having the engine running and the heater on.

"Don't forget, this was 1995 and there wasn't the proliferation of CCTV camera as there are today so we can't even say how long it had been there before anyone noticed it."

But after its discovery the family found their situation taking some very public and bizarre turns.

"It's difficult enough for relatives whose loved one goes missing, without that person having enjoyed a certain level of fame," said Rachel, revealing that soon numerous callers would visit her home, all con-vinced their knew what had happened to her brother.

"All of a sudden we were having to deal with both our sense of loss and all these people turning up at the door.

That isn't to say I can't understand why they did it, some of them genuinely believed they were helping and what they were saying was true, but it did make things very difficult for us," she said.

"Their claims ranged from being convinced they'd seen him at hippie market in Goa, a beach in the Canaries and a bar in Fuerteventura. One even said he'd seen my brother living on a farm in Bedfordshire.

"But when the police went there it turned out to be the farmer's son, who didn't really resemble Richey at all," she said.

"We've even had one psychic who claims to be channelling his spirit to help him write a book."

Meanwhile, Rachel herself continued to actively search for her missing brother, going sometimes to extraordinary lengths.

"There were several years where I'd regularly contact coroners either side of the Severn and ask them to inform me whenever they'd receive any male bodies that might match Richey's description. I'd then go to identify them," she said.

"It was emotionally exhausting doing that, and each time I would stand there with my heart in my mouth. But it never ended up being him.

"Yet it must have been somebody's brother, you know? Every one of them was somebody's son who went out one day and never came back, and, as far as I'm aware, are still waiting for someone to claim them."

Rachel explained that, despite her brother, who would have been 42 this year, being declared legally dead in late 2008, the family is still unable to lay his memory to rest.

"Some days I feel a residue of hope that he may still be alive, others I just know deep down he's gone," she said.

"I know he wouldn't have meant to leave this dark cloud hanging over anyone, but until he's found - alive or dead - we can't rest."