Police underwater searches in hunt for murdered Pat McCormick
The family of a missing Co Down man believed to have been murdered are suffering "immense distress" at not knowing what happened to their loved one, a senior PSNI officer has said.
Married father-of-four William McCormick (55), who was known as Pat, was last seen on a street in Comber at around 10.45pm on May 30.
Yesterday the police officer leading the murder investigation revealed officers were following significant new evidence.
Detective Chief Inspector Pete Montgomery also pleaded with those responsible for Mr McCormick's killing to disclose the location of the body for the sake of his relatives.
"It is now two weeks on from Pat's disappearance and his family remain absolutely devastated," he said.
"They deserve to know what has happened to him and deserve to have his body back."
The officer reiterated that police believe the motive behind the killing of the church caretaker could be connected to a "change in lifestyle" of the victim.
However, he would not disclose further details.
It had previously emerged that Mr McCormick's elderly mother knew where her son was going on the night he vanished.
However, the PSNI has said it cannot reveal details of his planned route.
Mr Montgomery's appeal comes as specialist police teams visited wetlands near Castle Espie on the outskirts of Comber today to carry out an underwater search following information from the local community.
Police will also be carrying out a significant route search in the Comber area with the help of the community rescue team.
Last night officers handed leaflets to motorists in Comber in a bid to glean further information.
Mr Montgomery disclosed a key line of enquiry focuses on the centre of Comber the day after the ex-soldier was last seen.
Addressing the public directly, he asked: "Were you in Comber on Friday, May 31 from 7am and specifically did you walk or drive into the car park at the rear of Castle Street/High Street?
"This car park is adjacent to SuperValu and includes the rear of Comber pharmacy and LGs Fish and Chips.
"Did you see anyone in this car park acting suspiciously?"
Mr Montgomery added: "Please cast your mind back to that morning.
"Did you see anyone walk from the flats on Castle Street into this car park via a wooden gate carrying anything?"
The senior detective revealed officers had visited 137 premises from which a total of 96 hours of CCTV have been obtained.
Officers have also overseen 15 searches and interviewed 100 individuals so far, which has led to the discovery of new evidence, he added.
"We're still trying to locate Pat's clothes, including his Ben Sherman watch," said Mr Montgomery.
An expert in missing persons at the National Crime Agency has been consulted as part of the ongoing probe, he revealed.
Mr Montgomery also said that accusations Mr McCormick stalked a woman a year ago do not form part of the investigation. "I'm aware of (the reports) but it's not a line of enquiry I'm following," he said.
The focus of the investigation, he stressed, is on ensuring that Mr McCormick's loved ones get answers.
"I've met with Pat's family on a number of occasions and it's the not knowing that is causing them immense distress," he said.
"I would also like to appeal to those directly responsible to come forward to police.
"Examine your conscience and allow Pat's family to give him a proper burial. You are denying them this right."
Four people - three men aged 20, 26 and 39 and a 20-year-old woman - were arrested in connection to the investigation and later released on bail.