The family of a young woman who disappeared 23 years ago never moved from their home in the hope that she might one day walk back in the front door, it has emerged.
But now their hopes have been dashed after police launched a murder inquiry.
Caroline Graham was just 19 years old when she went missing from the Portadown home she shared with her boyfriend in April 1989.
Despite a number of extensive searches in the area surrounding Caroline's Hanover Street house being carried out in the intervening years, no body has ever been found.
Yesterday police confirmed that a murder inquiry has been launched following “a number of new lines of inquiry”.
Caroline was originally from the Newry area and had been living in Portadown for around two years.
A cousin of Caroline’s mother, Andy Moffatt, described the missing teenager as a “happy-go-lucky young girl”.
“Just like every other young girl, when they get up to a certain age, they like to get out on their own, to get away from home,” he said.
Mr Moffatt said that the family had waited for a long time to hear from Caroline, but there was no joy.
“We just thought maybe she had gone off and would be coming back again,” he said.
But Caroline was never heard from again.
A decade after the disappearance of her daughter, Barbara Graham said that she didn’t believe she was alive.
“I can't understand why she has not got in touch with home,” she said at the time.
“At times we feel like selling up, but it stops me from moving because this is the only place she knows where to come to.”
The family did not want to be interviewed in case it jeopardised the new police investigation.
But Caroline’s distraught father John said that he was devastated to finally be told his daughter had been murdered.
He said that the family had never moved from the house where Caroline grew up in the hope that one day she would return and walk back through the front door again.
The family’s minister, Rev Brian Colvin, said that this was a demonstration of their love for Caroline and loyalty to her “in the sense that they kept that light on for her in the hope that she would return home”.
He added: “But that hope has now been dashed.”
“There is a sense of closure in that some of the unknown questions have been answered. But there is still much to be discovered about what happened to Caroline, the circumstances of her death and who did murder her,” said Rev Colvin.
After she went missing, Caroline’s mother and sister went to her last known address in Portadown, but neighbours said she had moved away.
Mrs Graham has said previously that the police were unable |to help since Caroline was an adult.
“They said because she was over 18, she was of legal age to do what she wanted to do, so that was it,” she said.
She said it was hard to believe that her daughter could simply vanish into thin air. SDLP MLA Dominic Bradley urged anyone with information regarding Caroline to come forward.
“This is a very difficult time for the Graham family and our thoughts and prayers are with them at this time.
“They have gone through so much since Caroline’s disappearance.
“Whilst this was some 23 years ago, I would appeal for anyone who may think they remember the smallest detail to come forward and assist in this new inquiry and give the Graham family the closure they so desire.”
Police are appealing to anyone who may have any information about Caroline's disappearance to contact them on 0845 600 8000, or directly on 028 9070 0727 or 07585228283.
The public can also provide information without giving their details to the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.