14 July 2010, 15:41
May (Mary) Ferns was 88 years old when she went missing on 17th June 2008. She left her home in Livingston, West Lothian, soon after 9.30 that morning, but never came back. May told her husband she was just popping out to buy socks from her local shopping centre, but didn’t come home for dinner. When she hadn’t arrived later that day, her 82-year-old husband Bill raised the alarm.
Bill phoned his daughters Anne and Margaret, who after contacting May’s friends and relatives then called the police. Lothian and Borders Police response was immediate. They conducted a finger tip search of May’s local area. Tracker dogs were used, door to door enquiries, mounted police searched woodlands and parks. River beds were searched using sonar technology and helicopters scrambled. No stone was left unturned, but May was nowhere to be found.
May’s disappearance also generated widespread news coverage. But all of this exposure hasn’t provided any more answers for the family on where May could be. The only clue, which police found some time later, was CCTV footage of May walking in Princes Street in Edinburgh later on that morning. So what happened to May, an active woman with no signs of dementia? What made her travel over 15 miles on the day she went missing? Will this mystery of her disappearance ever be solved?
Anne, 46, says even though May was her stepmother, and not blood related, the family were incredibly close. “Margaret and I do really miss her. When our Mum died nearly 20 years ago, May was fantastic for Dad and our children have always seen May as their Grandma.”
Anne worries about the toll May's disappearance has taken on her father, now 83 yrs old. “I still can’t believe May has gone. Even now a year and a half on. Because May has not left us – she’s vanished. How can I accept that? How can any of the family accept it? We don’t want our father suffering like this in his latter years, wondering what might have happened to May."
Margaret (51) says people always assume because May was in her 80’s that she probably got confused and wandered off. But she defends May’s capabilities “May was definitely a determined and sharp-minded lady who was independent enough to go out and do things like shopping. She had all of her wits about her and was perfectly capable.”
She says the family are in a state of limbo without May. “All May’s things are just as they were on the day she went missing. Everything is as she left it in our father’s house. We can’t get rid of anything. She’s just not here, but we have no explanation as to why.
Last updated: 19 July 2010, 12:18