[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Wednesday, 31 May 2006, 16:51 GMT 17:51 UK
Mystery of missing nun reviewed
Sister Jacinta Bracken
Sister Jacinta was 38-years-old when she disappeared in Swansea
The case of a nun who went missing 27 years ago is being reviewed.

Sister Jacinta Bracken, who was based at the Stella Maris convent in Swansea, disappeared in May 1979 while shopping for a pair of stockings for her mother.

Originally from Ballacolla in Ireland, the 38-year-old was last seen near the city's Quadrant multi-storey car park by two children she taught.

Her disappearance was one of the most talked about cases of its time but police searches proved fruitless.

Sister Jacinta's handbag was found on the foreshore the day after her disappearance by a local boatman, about 30ft from the West Pier.

But nothing was found in a subsequent police search in the area.

It was first thought Sister Jacinta had returned to Ireland, but this theory was ruled out when all her belongings - including her sailing ticket and cash - were found in the convent.

Another theory involves the nun getting sucked into a hole in the wall in Swansea's docklands.

Another theory is that she is alive and well living a new life in another part of the world
Det Insp Andy Hughes

Police say Sister Jacinta would often walk along the sand and mud banks of the old docklands on her way back to the convent from shopping in the city centre.

At the far end of the dock there was large hole in the wall which police say had a lot of suction.

Jenny Brain, who was a detective constable for South Wales Police at the time of the disappearance but has since retired from the force, said it is possible Sister Jacinta may have fallen into Swansea dock. She said: "Because she disappeared without trace, that is one of the theories we are working on.

"We had a clairvoyant draw a map of Swansea, pointing out where there was a hole in the dock.

The clairvoyant said he thought she might have been buried or fallen into a hole somehow.

Newspaper stories on Sister Jacinta's disappearance
The disappearance made headlines in 1979

There was also a lot of building work in Swansea at the time Sister Jacinta disappeared including the development of the docklands into the marina Swansea has now and the construction of county hall.

One theory says the missing nun is in the foundations of a building somewhere.

The area is now a marina with lock gates preventing all the water from draining away at low tide.

Det Andy Hughes, who is overseeing the case for South Wales Police, said other theories involved Sister Jacinta falling into the dock, deliberately throwing herself into the water or the involvement of a third party.

But because she was Catholic it is unlikely the nun's disappearance was due to suicide.

"Another theory is that she is alive and well living a new life in another part of the world," he said.

"My own gut feeling, having done the six-monthly review of the case, is that Sister Jacinta went into the water.

"Whether it was suicide or whether a third party was involved would be pure speculation."

The docklands where the sister's handbag was found is now a marina

No passport was issued or death registered under her name in the last 27 years, inquiries have confirmed.

She was said to be a popular member of the community who liked to walk, shop and gave local children guitar lessons.

Det Hughes said Sister Jacinta's disappearance was one of the most talked about cases of its time.

"Unfortunately, we are still unable to find her after all these years," he said. "We are keeping this case open and will be conducting further investigation shortly.

"Hopefully, we can get to the answer to it."

Anyone with information is asked to contact Swansea police station on 01792 456999.

"It was a complete mystery - pure Agatha Christie."


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific