‘It’s heartbreaking to know Charlotte is lying somewhere and no one has found her... as a family we want to say goodbye’
Tyrone woman Charlotte Murray disappeared, presumed murdered, five years ago, but her body has never been discovered. Now in an emotional interview with Stephanie Bell, her devastated twin sister Denise says all the family wants is to give her a proper burial.
The twin of Co Tyrone murder victim Charlotte Murray says her sister is the first thing she thinks about every morning and the last thought on her mind going to sleep at night.
Denise Murray describes it as an “agony” that has continued for five years since Charlotte vanished without a trace in October 2012 — and not just for her, but for her nine siblings and widowed mum, Mary (63).
The family tragically lost their dad, Frank, to an illness in 2002 when he was just 54 years of age.
As they issued a heartfelt appeal this week for information to try to end their pain and give Charlotte a proper burial, Denise gave a deeper insight into her sister and the impact on the family of losing her in such a terrible way.
Accepting now that their sister will never come home alive after police launched a murder inquiry, Denise says the family will never rest until they can give Charlotte the respectful funeral she deserves.
Denise says: “It would mean everything to get her home. We would have somewhere to go, we’d have a grave to go to and spend a few minutes there to talk to her and remember her on her birthday and at Christmas.
“At the minute, we have nothing and that has left us grieving every day and there is no end to it. We just want to give her a decent burial.”
Denise described her sister as a “positive person”, who didn’t let worries get on top of her.
Charlotte had moved from the family home in Omagh two years before her disappearance to start a new life with her boyfriend in the Co Tyrone village of Moy.
She was working, helping out in the kitchen at the Cohannon Inn outside Dungannon and Denise says she had good friends in Moy, as she was the type to make friends easily.
“Charlotte was very bubbly and fun-loving; she enjoyed life and loved having the craic. She would have been the first one on the dancefloor and the last one off it,” she says.
“Charlotte always said it as it was and always spoke the truth — even if you didn’t want to hear it. She didn’t let worries get her down. She had wee sayings for everything.”
Denise adds: “If you had a problem, she would say, ‘Troubles are bubbles and bubbles blow away.’ She was very positive and just loved life.
“We didn’t see as much of her since she moved to Moy and I know she had friends there, because she made friends easily, but they would have been people we would have known."
The last time the family heard from Charlotte was when she rang her mum a few days before Halloween in 2012.
In that phone call, she revealed she had split from her boyfriend and was moving out of the home she shared with him.
It was the following May when police launching a missing person's inquiry.
In February 2015, police arrested a 44-year-old man and announced that they were now focusing on a murder investigation.
The announcement sent shockwaves through the communities of both Moy and Charlotte's home town of Omagh.
The man arrested for questioning was later released without charge.
For Charlotte's distraught family - and especially her mother - it was a devastating blow.
Denise says: "Mum just lived in hope that Charlotte would walk through the door. She wouldn't give up hope and she believed she would see her again and that was hard for her to take.
"We feel each other's pain. Poor mum is inconsolable and there is nothing we can say, or do, to help ease her pain. She gave Charlotte life and not knowing what has happened to her is heartbreaking for her.
"Mum has aged so much since Charlotte disappeared. Every day, there is a different question, so many questions, and we need answers. It has really torn us apart."
As well as the not knowing what happened to Charlotte, or where she is, the family have found it tough to carry on with special events - knowing that Charlotte is not there to share them.
Next year, her sister and brother are planning to get married and the whole family will feel Charlotte's absence on those special days.
Christmas Day, too, is hard as it was also Charlotte and Denise's birthday.
Denise says: "It is very tough. Christmas is not the same anymore and we just get on with it. This will be our sixth Christmas without Charlotte."
This week, Charlotte's family and police made a new appeal for information to try and help find her. Denise described Charlotte's disappearance as one of the most horrific experiences the family ever had to face.
"It's heartbreaking to know Charlotte is lying out there somewhere and no one has found her," she says.
"Guilt is one emotion we all feel. We feel guilty for carrying on with our everyday lives as Charlotte will never get the opportunity to carry on with hers.
"It never leaves you. You could be washing the dishes and it comes into your head and it is the first thing you think of in the morning when you wake up and the last thing you think of before you go to your bed at night.
"Someone has taken her life and they know what they have done. That person has to have a conscience and we are appealing for that person to come forward. Please find the decency to tell us where she is. Maybe the person who took her life told somebody else and we would hope that person would have the decency to come forward and tell the police what they know. We just want to say goodbye."
Police also issued an appeal for people to come forward and, in particular, asked for information about Charlotte's diamond engagement ring and her mobile phone.
Detective Chief Inspector Eamonn Corrigan, who is in charge of the investigation, revealed that the appeal had resulted in information about the ring which was he described as a "significant" development in the inquiry.
"We have made significant progress over the past 12 months and, as a result of our appeal this week for information about Charlotte's engagement ring and her mobile phone, we have received useful information about the ring," he says.
"This is a significant development.
"Both these items are of great importance to my investigation. The ring has a gold band with diamonds with a hexagon shape in the centre. Charlotte's mobile phone was a Samsung Galaxy YS5360."
DCI Corrigan added that the last sighting of Charlotte had been around the end of October 2012 and, in particular, police were focusing on the date of October 31.
He said that, even though five years had passed, police were convinced there were people with information about what happened to Charlotte and they urged them to come forward.
"Charlotte's family miss her and they deserve and need to know what happened to her. We really need people to come forward."
If you have any information about Charlotte's murder - no matter how small - contact detectives at Gough on 101 ext 34233
Police return to carry out searches of area
This week, police have been back in the Moy, carrying out a number of searches of open ground and woodland as part of the Charlotte Murray murder investigation.
It is believed they also searched a house and a business in the village looking for Charlotte's mobile phone and a computer believed to be connected to her disappearance. In total, five searches have been carried out by police in the area, one of which is understood to have focused on land at the edge of the village on the Dungannon Road.