Page last updated at 21:40 GMT, Wednesday, 10 December 2008

Missing mother's cards returned

Nicola Payne and her son Owen
Ms Payne had written a card to her baby son Owen

Police investigating the disappearance of a young mother 17 years ago have returned Christmas cards to her family which she never sent.

Nicola Payne, 18, was last seen walking back from her boyfriend's family home in Coventry, on 14 December 1981.

Dozens of cards which had been held by West Midlands Police were handed over to the family.

Her mother Marilyn was given a card in which Ms Payne thanked her parents for all their help and said she loved them.

Ms Payne had also written a Christmas card to her baby son Owen.

'Some answers'

Marilyn Payne said: They say that time heals but I don't find it does.

"Some years are harder and for some reason this year I'm struggling."

Marilyn Payne
Marilyn Payne says she is still struggling to deal with what happened

No-one has ever been charged by police in connection with the case.

In the summer a garden of a house in the city, near where Ms Payne went missing, was dug up but nothing was found.

Ms Payne had taken a short cut to her parents' house half a mile away from her boyfriend's home in Henley Green but she never arrived.

Since then there have been a number of appeals by her family for help in finding out what happened to her.

The latest appeal was at the beginning of the year on the date which would have been her 35th birthday.

Mrs Payne said she believed one day her daughter's body would be found.

"I really feel we're going to get some answers and we're going to get a closure," she added.

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