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Last Updated: Wednesday, 30 July, 2003, 13:59 GMT 14:59 UK
Hopes fade for missing Louise
by Laura Smith-Spark
BBC News Online

Louise Kerton
Miss Kerton was last seen at Aachen railway station in July 2001
The family of missing nurse Louise Kerton - who disappeared two years ago while in Germany - say they are convinced she is dead.

Louise, who would now be 26, has not been seen since she went to a railway station in Aachen to catch a train to Belgium on July 30 2001, on her way back to the UK.

For the past two years, her parents Philip and Kathleen Kerton, of New Ash Green, Kent, have waited in vain for any news of their daughter.

The months have not been spent idly - in the weeks after Miss Kerton first went missing, her parents and sister Francesca went to Germany to follow her trail.

We've felt - since Christmas and New Year about 18 months ago - we've become convinced that she is dead
Father Philip Kerton

But Mr Kerton, 58, said the family's hope had slowly dwindled away.

"We've felt - since Christmas and New Year about 18 months ago - we've become convinced that she is dead.

"Another option could be that she has been detained somewhere and cannot talk to people but there cannot seem to be any particular reason for that."

The family has returned to Germany several times to try to trace the student nurse, who before her disappearance had been living in Broadstairs with fiance Peter Simon.

'Totally unexpected'

Miss Kerton - who was a friend of murdered air hostess Lucie Blackman - had gone to visit Mr Simon's mother Ramana in the village of Strassfeld, near Bonn, when she went missing.

The 24-year-old, who is dyslexic, may have been depressed after failing her nursing exams - but Mr Kerton said he did not believe this was enough to explain her disappearance.

He said: "It was totally unexpected and totally out of character.

"She left saying she would be back and had made various plans of things she would do in the future."

Philip Kerton in Germany with a poster for missing Louise
Mr Kerton said he now believed his daughter was dead

In September and October last year, two coach parties made up of members of the Kertons' church travelled to Germany to take up the search - but still with no success.

Mr Kerton said: "The more upsetting times are when something catches you unawares, when you are walking round the shops and see a book or record or bit of jewellery and think 'Louise would like that'.

"And then you remember that she might never see it and that's when it really strikes home."

In May, Crimewatch showed a reconstruction of Miss Kerton's last movements filmed by a German equivalent of the show as part of National Missing Persons Week.

'Moving a mountain'

But her father said the only calls generated by the show had been from so-called "attention seekers" whose claims had led to nothing.

An appeal on German television last December also yielded little information.

Mr Kerton said he believed the German police had lost valuable time in the early stages of the investigation.

"We spent a lot of the first year trying to get the authorities to take this seriously and having trouble getting the information into the hands of the people who needed it," he said.

"It's like trying to get a mountain moving - there's a great inertia you cannot overcome.

"It's not necessarily because there's anything terrible with the system but because you don't know where to push.

"It makes you very angry and it's very frustrating."

He still hopes a new appeal at the start of the holiday season may throw up fresh leads.

"They do say runaway people do turn up in the sort of places where British people take holidays, so it may be a good time for people to be aware," he said.




SEE ALSO:
Theatre appeal for missing nurse
14 Feb 03  |  England
Missing Briton search continues
05 Sep 02  |  England
Police search for missing Briton
04 Sep 02  |  England
Missing Louise case reviewed
25 Apr 02  |  England
Father's fears for missing Louise
13 Nov 01  |  England
Parents 'missed' Louise by minutes
19 Aug 01  |  UK News


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