THE heartbroken daughter of missing man Scott Fletcher kisses a picture of her daddy every night.
After not seeing him for 16 months, the distraught little girl had a simple message: “Daddy, please come home, I miss you.”
Five-year-old Lucie Fletcher bravely spoke to the Hartlepool Mail for the first time as she tries to find her doting dad.
Lucie, who earlier this month had her first day in the infant section of Fens Primary School – what should have been a proud day for her father to see – spoke as Hartlepool Police and Scott’s family vowed to never give up the fight to find him.
Scott’s mum, Julie, revealed that despite extensive efforts by the police, Scott’s whereabouts still remain a mystery, 16 months on from his disappearance on May 11, last year.
Lucie, who even crayons on the treasured picture, told the Mail how she feels “sad” that she has not seen her dad for so long, how she misses trips to Whitby with him and how he would take her riding on horses.
She added: “I kiss a picture of my dad every night.
“I tell my friends he is working away, in case they cry. But I know he is lost.”
Lucie described how she has learned to ride her bike without stabilisers since she last saw her dad and that she has been doing well at school.
She added: “Daddy please come home, I miss you and need you to come home.”
Lucie’s mum Shelley Marshall, 27, from the Owton Manor area of Hartlepool, said she used to tell her daughter that her dad was working away, but had to admit the truth when other youngsters told Lucie her dad was missing.
“She was inconsolable when she realised,” said Shelly, who is also mum to seven-year-old Bradley Marshall from a previous relationship, who Scott brought up as his own.
“It’s me who has to explain it to her. I haven’t got the answers. Please, someone must know something.”
Scott’s mum Julie said since the most recent appeal for Scott’s whereabouts, the police and family had not received a “scrap” of information.
But she said she remains confident that efforts to bring Scott home will not dwindle, adding: “I don’t think the police will ever give up, they have been fantastic with us. And we won’t give up either.”
She revealed that at the heart of her attempts to stay strong was a bid not to think about what could have happened to her son.
“You bury yourself in your work and we talk about him every single day, but we try not to think of what possibly could have happened to him, you couldn’t cope otherwise. If I start to think about what could have happened to him I think I would just break down.”
She said the family survived “day by day” with huge support from the police, who are in constant contact.
Acting Superintendent Jon Green, of Hartlepool Police, who is leading the investigation into Scott’s disappearance, said inquiries remain open and will stay so until Scott’s whereabouts and the circumstances of his disappearance are established.
He added: “The last year or so have been an exceptionally difficult period for Scott’s family and the passage of time will not make their pain any easier to live with. The sense of not knowing will be difficult for them, and that is why we will actively pursue any relevant line of investigation until we find the truth.
“I am certain there are people who know the truth surrounding Scott’s disappearance, people who Scott probably regarded as friends, but most importantly people who have the key to releasing Scott’s family from their turmoil.”
Scott, who lived in the Throston area of town, was last spotted in a lay-by opposite the Jet garage on the A181 at Wheatley Hill. He was wearing a black sweatshirt and black jeans.
Anyone with information is asked to contact Acting Supt Green on (01642) 302178.