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Thread: Police search former garden of woman who went missing in 1969, UK

  1. #1

    an6 Police search former garden of woman who went missing in 1969, UK

    Police search former garden of primary school teacher who went missing FORTY years ago

    Ellen Elizabeth Ruffle disappeared from her family home in Motherwell in 1969
    She left behind a husband and two young children

    Police insist search is 'standard procedure' but are using ground penetrating radar on the garden

    Police in Scotland are searching the home of a primary school teacher who went missing more than 40 years ago - fearing her body may be buried in the garden.

    Ellen Elizabeth Ruffle was last seen in 1969 at her home in Annan Glade, Motherwell.

    The 34-year-old primary school teacher, known to friends as Evelyn, was married with two children, then aged 4 and 18 months.
    Mrs Ruffle was working at Cathedral Primary School, Motherwell when she went missing.
    Strathclyde Police said it was out of character for her to leave her family, but in more than four decades they have come no closer to solving the mystery of her disappearance.

    Officers insist the search is standard procedure as part of a long term missing person inquiry.
    But the use of ground penetrating radar indicates they fear Mrs Ruffle's body may be buried in the garden.

    Superintendent Andy McKay from Strathclyde Police said: 'It is now over 40 years since she went missing and I urge anyone with information, no matter how small, to come forward and hopefully we can provide some resolution to her family.
    'I have no doubt that someone has information which can help us to find out what happened to her.

    'It was completely out of character for her to leave her two small children. It may be four decades since she was last seen, however my officers are no less determined to find out what happened to her.'

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  2. #2

    Default Re: Police search former garden of woman who went missing in 1969, UK

    Son prays for a breakthrough as forensic team begins search of garden for missing teacher Ellen Ruffle

    THE SON of a teacher who went missing 43 years ago last night said he didn’t know of her existence until he was 13.

    Graham Ruffle, 44, was just 18 months old when his mum Ellen, who was known as Evelyn, disappeared from her home in Motherwell.

    He grew up believing his step-mother Senga, who got together with his father Norman soon after Ellen disappeared, was his real mother.

    But police fear Ellen’s remains may be buried at the former family home, and yesterday, forensics team began examining every inch of the property.

    As the search began, Graham told how life with his father and stepmother was a “living hell”.

    He claims stepmum Senga Ruffle, 60, only told him she wasn’t his real mum after giving him a beating for coming home from school late on the day of his 13th birthday.

    Graham told the Record he is determined to get to the truth of what happened all those years ago.

    He said: “All I have ever wanted is the truth, so I can finally get some kind of closure on this.

    “I feel very eager to know what might emerge from the police action and how it might fill in the gaps in the information we have.”

    Graham told the Record that he was originally contacted by police officers six or seven years ago after he launched a publicity drive aimed at finding out where Ellen was.

    He gave a statement documenting evidence he had gathered during his quest to find his missing mum.

    Graham also recently made an official complaint about allegations of physical abuse at the hands of Senga and his father Norman, now 72, a former security firm manager.

    Graham, who now lives in London, said: “Basically, after a very unhappy childhood, I was left with a big void in my life. I was finally told of a natural mother I had never known and whom I was never encouraged to think of.

    “I remember clearly the day I was given the news. It was my 13th birthday and I had gone to a friend’s house and come home an hour late,

    “I was beaten by Senga, which was virtually a daily occurrence, and then she sat me down and let me have it about how she wasn’t my mother.

    “She said my real mum had left home when I was 18 months old and that no-one knew where she was. I was only a baby so I didn’t have any abiding memories.”

    Graham said his sister Rosemary, 47, could remember her mum but when she asked about the
    disappearance, she was told to drop the subject.

    He said: “Rosemary told me that Norman had introduced Senga to her, saying, ‘This is your new mummy’. Rosemary had told them that she didn’t want a new mummy, she wanted her real mummy.”

    Senga and Norman married in 1975, the same year that he divorced Ellen in her absence.

    Graham added: “I’m not sure exactly when Senga got together with Norman but police have said they don’t think they were any kind of item at the time my mother disappeared.”

    He went on: “In all the years of growing up, my father barely mentioned a word about my mother. I do recall him referring to ‘that bitch I was married to’.”

    Graham only began investigating his mother’s whereabouts after he returned from South Africa, where his father and Senga had settled while he was young.

    He returned to Scotland in 1989 and spent years attempting to trace Ellen through official records before approaching a local paper.

    This led to him being contacted by cousins and other relations and people who knew his mother in the years before her disappearance.

    He said: “The police became interested in any evidence that might emerge but after I gave my statement the case went a bit cold, so I’m not sure what new tip they might have received.”

    Graham was last night awaiting news from the police search of the home in Annan Glade, Motherwell, in which he stayed at the time of teacher Ellen’s disappearance.

    He said: “I don’t remember much about the house, as we moved away soon after my mother
    disappeared. We moved house so many times, probably eight times by the time I was seven.

    “When we went to South Africa we stayed in around 11 different homes and I know Norman and Senga have moved around eight times since they got back from South Africa.”

    When the Record contacted Graham’s sister Rosemary in Johannesburg, South Africa, she said police had told her not to talk about the case.

    She said: “My family is obviously aware of what is happening and it is a difficult time for us. I can’t say how I feel about it – it depends on what happens.”

    Ellen was last seen in 1969, aged 34. Police said it was out of character for her to leave her family.

    Strathclyde Police last night said it was standard procedure as part of a long term missing person inquiry to forensically search homes.

    Ellen was born in 1935 in Motherwell and trained as a teacher at Craiglochart College in Edinburgh.

    She then took teaching posts in Singapore, Bournemouth and various schools in Lanarkshire.

    She was working at Cathedral Primary School, Motherwell, when she went missing.

    Superintendent Andy McKay, from Strathclyde Police, said: “It is now over 40 years since Ellen went missing and I urge anyone with information, no matter how small, to come forward and hopefully we can provide some resolution to her family.

    “It may be four decades since Ellen was last seen, however my officers are no less determined to find out what happened to her.”

    A QUIET Lanarkshire street looked like a scene from CSI yesterday as police experts began searching for missing mum Ellen Ruffle.

    The painstaking examination of the unremarkable detached villa and its garden with hi-tech radar equipment is expected to last several days.

    The garage, which was built at the rear of the house after Ellen vanished, is believed to be a main focus for officers.

    The initial search was concentrated on a slabbed patio at the rear of the house.

    A white and yellow tent was also erected in the front garden where another search will take place.

    The ground-penetrating radar equipment, provided by the Home Office, will be used to detect areas of disturbed soil and ground.

    Former primary teacher Ellen lived at the house in Annan Glade, Motherwell, with her husband Norman, son Graham and daughter Rosemary.

    Graham was just 18 months old and Rosemary four when their mum vanished in 1969.

    Police launched an investigation at the time but found no trace of her.

    The house has had several owners since then and the current residents have been moved to a temporary address.

    The ground penetrating radar will initially search for areas of disturbed ground.

    But the devices will also provide detailed scans, giving forensic detectives a good idea of what lies beneath the surface before they actually start disturbing the earth.

    The digging could potentially damage or destroy evidence unless detectives have a good idea of where to start and of what they are looking for.

    Ground-penetrating radar was used to detect Peter Tobin’s victims Dinah McNicol and Vicky Hamilton.

    Their remains were found in the back garden of a house where he once stayed at Margate, in the south of England.

    The specialised radar was also used both inside and outside other homes used over the years by the evil killer.

    One of the GPR technology’s first successes was in the 90s when it helped find the remains of nine victims of Fred and Rose West at their house of horror in Cromwell Street, Gloucester.

    The GPR is the first stage of a search. It will be followed by a full forensic probe of the area if anything shows up.

    It is often used on archaeological digs where it highlights areas worthy of further examination and rules out areas of no interest.

    The fact that GPR leaves the ground undisturbed – classed as non-destructive testing – makes it a very useful tool for forensic scientists.

    It also has the ability to look under concrete, which removes the need for time-consuming excavation.

    One case which illustrates how effective GPR can be was when it was used to locate a £150,000 hoard of bank notes buried in a field.

    The recovery of the money, a ransom for the safe return of estate agent Stephanie Slater in Birmingham in 1992, was a classic example of a landscape search and the pinpointing of a target area.

    Stephanie was abducted by one-legged killer Michael Sams as she showed him round an empty property. He tied her up, locked her in a makeshift coffin, tortured and raped her but she survived her ordeal.

    GPR is also used for geological testing and finding the composition of sub-soils.

    But it has become an established and important forensic archaeology tool used by law enforcement agencies around the world to search for buried bodies of murder victims.

    Sometimes police use outside consultants to perform searches because the complicated radar equipment is so expensive and needs specialised training to operate and interpret the results.

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