Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 17 December 2014

25 years after teenager Caroline Graham disappeared in Portadown, police begin a fresh dig at her former home

The renewed police search for Caroline Graham who went missing from Portadown in 1989. Photo Arthur Allison
The renewed police search for Caroline Graham who went missing from Portadown in 1989. Photo Arthur Allison
Detectives have begun a new search for the remains of Caroline Graham
Specially trained PSNI victim recovery dogs which can identify traces of human remains helped in the renewed police search for Caroline Graham at a property in Hanover Street in Portadown. William Cherry / Presseye
Specially trained PSNI victim recovery dogs which can identify traces of human remains helped in the renewed police search for Caroline Graham at a property in Hanover Street in Portadown. William Cherry / Presseye
Detective Chief Inspector Montgomery pictured at the renewed Police search for Caroline Graham who went missing from Portadown in 1989 in Portadown.
Specially trained PSNI victim recovery dogs which can identify traces of human remains helped in the renewed police search for Caroline Graham at a property in Hanover Street in Portadown. William Cherry / Presseye
The renewed police search for Caroline Graham who went missing from Portadown in 1989. Photo Arthur Allison
Ms Graham's mother Barbara
Specially trained PSNI victim recovery dogs Mac and Cecil, which can identify traces of human remains, helped in the renewed police search for Caroline Graham who went missing from Portadown in 1989.
The renewed police search for Caroline Graham who went missing from Portadown in 1989. Photo Arthur Allison
The renewed police search for Caroline Graham who went missing from Portadown in 1989. Photo Arthur Allison
The renewed police search for Caroline Graham who went missing from Portadown in 1989. Photo Arthur Allison
The renewed police search for Caroline Graham who went missing from Portadown in 1989. Photo Arthur Allison
The renewed police search for Caroline Graham who went missing from Portadown in 1989. Photo Arthur Allison
The renewed police search for Caroline Graham who went missing from Portadown in 1989. Photo Arthur Allison
The renewed police search for Caroline Graham who went missing from Portadown in 1989. Photo Arthur Allison

Detectives investigating the disappearance and murder of a young woman 25 years ago today started a fresh search of her former home.

Caroline Graham (19) went missing from Portadown in April 1989. No one has ever been charged with her murder.

Specially trained police victim recovery dogs were deployed in the Hanover Street home today, where Ms Graham lived with her boyfriend.

The search is being conducted under warrant but with the consent of the current owner of the property.

Police do not believe the current occupant has knowledge of the events of 1989. Officers said it was not possible to state how long the search would take.

Two years ago police carried out a series of digs in and around the area of Hanover Street.

The latest initiative comes just six weeks after Ms Graham's mother Barbara appealed for information about her daughter's murder. The officer leading the investigation, Detective Chief Inspector Peter Montgomery, said: "It is more than 25 years since Caroline was last seen and almost two years since the most recent phase of investigative activity resumed. Despite all the hurdles posed by the passage of time, I still believe that a form of closure is possible for Caroline and her family.

"Our appeals for information have been productive. In general, people have been very helpful. We are now at a point where it is appropriate to once again begin a planned search operation, to locate Caroline's remains but also as part of the overall investigation into her murder."

Ms Graham was originally from Newry but had been living in the Portadown area for around two years. Mr Montgomery added: "It was around Easter at the end of March 1989 and Caroline had been for a night out to the Coach in Banbridge with a girlfriend. She stayed part of the night with her friend in a hostel in Portadown but was gone in the morning.

"I have information that suggests Caroline returned to Hanover Street to get some clothes but she has not been seen since. I believe she was murdered some time later and her remains are somewhere in Portadown."

Detectives mounted a major search operation in the nearby Carleton Street area in 2012. Nothing of significance was found.

Detectives believe the key to recovering Caroline's remains and catching her killer, or killers, lies with a small group of local people.

Mr Montgomery said: "All our enquiries lead us to believe there is more than one person who knows exactly where Caroline is buried. I need to speak to anyone who saw Caroline at the Coach with her friend that night. Did you pick them up and drop them off in Portadown?

"Six weeks ago I appealed to two men, possibly off-duty soldiers, who gave Caroline a lift in a black Ford XR3i car that night to come forward. Although I am not treating them as suspects, they have yet to make contact. I would urge them to do so.

"I want to say that if you have concerns about giving evidence, please speak to me to explore what might be possible in terms of doing so."

  • Anyone with information is asked to contact detectives on 02890 700 727 or 07585 22 82 83.

Background

Caroline Graham (19) was originally from Newry but had been living in the Portadown area for around two years before her 1989 disappearance.

She lived in Hanover Street with her boyfriend for a time. The night before her disappearance, the teenager had been for a night out to the Coach in Banbridge with a girlfriend. She stayed part of the night with her friend in a hostel in Portadown but was gone in the morning. Police believe she returned to Hanover Street and was murdered sometime later.

Her remains have never been found.

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