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'I had to tell our baby girls that their daddy wasn't coming home'

By Chris McCullough

Published 17/08/2015

Mark Tohill with wife Stephanie and daughters Grace and Orlaith
Mark Tohill with wife Stephanie and daughters Grace and Orlaith
Mark and Stephanie Tohill

The wife of a man whose body was found after two days of searches has revealed she had to tell their two young daughters "Daddy isn't coming home".

Mark Tohill, who was from Newtownabbey, was discovered in a wooded area close to the River Bann in the Co Londonderry town of Kilrea by local residents and farmers, as well as members of the Community Rescue Service (CRS).

His heartbroken wife, Stephanie, who is originally from America, had to break the news to the couple's two young daughters, Grace and Orlaith, following the grim find.

Mrs Tohill had been using social media to ask for help in finding her husband.

Her friends and family, both in the US and in Northern Ireland, voiced their support for the young mother while the searches for her missing husband were continuing.

Mrs Tohill's mother, Mary Ann Linsell, flew in from New Jersey on Sunday morning to be with her daughter and grandchildren.

Mr Tohill (42) was first spotted in the Carnmoney Road area of Glengormley at around 10.15am on Thursday. He was later sighted in Kilrea around 1.30pm on the same day, both by a CCTV camera and a member of the public.

He is reported to have been asking around for any other Tohills that lived in the area.

His wife had previously reported Mark missing and revealed that he was "without his medication" and "in a very unsettled state".

She appealed on social media for him to return home and said that his girls were waiting for him.

However, the news the family feared most came to them after the discovery of her husband's body 35 miles away.

Following the sighting of Mark in Kilrea, teams from the CRS began looking for him on Friday evening in dense undergrowth in a heavily wooded area near the River Bann.

The search went on until the early hours of Saturday morning, when his remains were eventually discovered.

Specialist teams from the CRS had been searching on land and water over an area of five square miles.

Local farmers and residents had also helped with the search, and members of the Tohill family were present to offer their assistance.

Stephanie posted a warm tribute to her husband on Facebook. She wrote: "Told our baby girls today that Daddy isn't coming home. Not only is my heart shattered, but it breaks again and again for them.

"Baby, wherever you are... I hope you're at peace and know that we love you to the moon and back.

"You'll always be my baby and my hubby and I'll always be your woman. Xx. My baby is gone. The love of my life is gone."

A family friend in the USA, named as Lynn Becket, had set up a GoFundMe page to raise money to help Stephanie pay for the funeral arrangements for Mark and also to help his bereaved children.

The fund is in US dollars and has already exceeded $5,300 (£3,300).

The PSNI confirmed it was investigating the circumstances surrounding the sudden death of a man found in the Moneygran Road area of Kilrea on Friday, August 14.

Inspector Andrew Archibald said: "Enquiries are continuing. A post mortem will be carried out within the next few days."

Belfast Telegraph

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