The anguished mum of a man missing for more than four years says news that his disappearance is now being treated as murder came as a ‘body blow’.
Police have arrested three County Durham men on suspicion of conspiracy to murder Scott Fletcher, 28, who vanished in May, 2011.
Scott’s distraught mum Julie Fletcher said the development had extinguished the family’s small hope that he may still be found alive.
The men, aged 36, 38 and 48, were arrested by police yesterday morning.
No body has been found yet.
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That little bit of hope has gone, although it was getting smaller and smaller I still can’t comprehend that he is deadMum Julie Fletcher
Police leading the inquiry believe Scott was murdered over a debt he owed and expect to make more arrests over the coming weeks.
Julie, who lives in Hartlepool, said: “It felt a bit like a physical blow because that little bit of hope has gone, although it was getting smaller and smaller I still can’t comprehend that he is dead, so it is very, very hard.”
The last sighting of Scott was on May 11, 2011, near the Jet garage, on the A181 at Wheatley Hill, at about 8.20pm.
But Julie also praised the police for the breakthrough that she hopes will uncover what happened to Scott, a much-loved dad to Lucie, eight, and 10-year-old stepson Bradley.
She added: “I can’t thank the police enough for pursuing this the way they have and the support they have given us in continuing to find out what has happened to Scott.
“I was frightened to know at first but we need to know what’s happened to him.
“We need to know where he is and be able to bring him home.
“It has been a long four and a half years but the police are still in there giving us their full support and we appreciate that.”
Julie, who lives at Bishop Cuthbert with husband John, said she believes there are still people out there with vital pieces of information and appealed for them to tell the police to help bring closure to Scott’s family.
“It is particularly cruel to lose a child,” said Julie. “But it is even crueller to know people may have little bits of information they could share to put an end to this now.
“I think we have suffered enough, especially the children.”
The three suspects remain in police custody.
Detective Superintendent Jon Green, of Cleveland Police, said: “As a result of the ongoing investigation, the disappearance of Scott Fletcher is now being treated as a murder inquiry; however, a body has not yet been located.
“Scott was reportedly last seen on May 11, 2011 at around 8.20pm near to the Jet garage, on the A181 at Wheatley Hill in Durham.”
Det Supt Green also appealed for anyone with information of Scott’s disappearance or anyone who may have seen him to contact Cleveland Police on 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111 or www.crimestoppers-uk.org