THE ex-wife of missing man Darren Waller has spoken of her anguish as the search for him goes into a third week.
She is hoping he returns so their children can "smile again" – but admits she "fears the worst".
The 36-year-old has been missing for more than two weeks and a team of detectives are desperately trying to trace him.
His heartbroken ex-wife and oldest daughter spoke to the Mail ahead of a scheduled press conference today to appeal for help in tracing the "best dad".
Lisa Gleaves, who said she is still good friends with Darren despite splitting up 16 months ago after 10 years of marriage, fears the worst after Darren went missing while in shock at the tragic deaths of two of his friends.
Tearful Lisa, of Kells Grove, in the Owton Manor area of Hartlepool, said: "He's a fantastic dad and he must be missing his kids just as much as they're missing him.
"I don't know where he has gone or what he has done, there's been no sign of him.
"I don't understand why he would disappear like this, we're not eating, not sleeping.
"Every time the phone goes or there's a knock on the door I jump because of what it might be. You fear the worst, it's hard to even think about what has happened.
Lisa, who spoke to the Mail surrounded by her weeping children, added: "We just hope there's a happy ending to it all and the children can smile again."
>> Dad stressed over friends' deaths
Darren, a mechanic by trade, is dad to Kayleigh, 16, and Owton Manor Primary pupils Ellie, eight, and five-year-old Leah.
Kayleigh, who goes to Dyke House School, said: "We can't live without our dad, he's a good dad and is so much fun.
"He's the best and we want him to come back.
"He would have a laugh about anything, he was always giggling and was never serious."
Lisa has searched high and low for Darren, looking in woodland and in quarries, over at the former Steetley industrial site and around the seafront, but with no luck.
She even followed a man on a bike through the town thinking it was Darren.
Darren was last seen by Lisa at the house of his mum, Kathleen Waller, 60, in Burnaby Close, in Hartlepool, at around 5.30pm on Sunday, January 9.
He had been staying at the house because the boiler of his flat in Alma Street, in the Grange Road area of Hartlepool, had broken.
Lisa says she thinks she was the last to see Darren, who was upset at the recent deaths of friends Norman Hay and Norman's half-brother Les Willis.
Lisa added: "We would see each other quite often and we still share a bank account.
"When I saw he hadn't taken his money out of the bank on Monday I knew there was something wrong.
"He also didn't want to have the kids over the weekend, which is unusual because they are his life. He just wasn't himself.
"It would be great if he came back, but we just want to know he is okay.
"Even if he just wants to say that it would be fine, there's no anger or anything."
A team of detectives from Hartlepool CID have been chasing possible leads in a bid to trace his whereabouts.
They have also appealed for help on social networking sites Facebook and Twitter, urging people to forward information to friends in a bid to find out where he is.
Darren was last seen wearing a light blue sweater with dark stripes across the chest, dark blue jeans, white trainers and had an earring in his left ear.
He is described as 5ft 8in, white, with a shaved head and tattoos on his hands and arms
A press conference was due to be held this morning at Hartlepool police station by Detective Inspector Anne-Marie Salway, along with Lisa and Kayleigh, to appeal for help in finding Darren.