23 Dec 2010

Parents fear missing architect has been kidnapped

The family of a 25-year-old architect, missing for nearly a week in Bristol, say they fear she has been kidnapped, and that “Christmas is suspended until she comes back”, as Samira Ahmed discovers.

Joanna Yeates was last seen leaving the Ram pub in Park Street, Bristol after having a Christmas drink with colleagues on Friday night.

During a press conference her parents David, 63, and Theresa, 58, from Hampshire, revealed they now fear she has been kidnapped.

Mr Yeates said: “I think she was abducted after getting home to her flat.

“I have no idea of the circumstances of the abduction because of what was left behind.”

Police have confirmed they believed she had been back to the flat as they found her coat, mobile phone and keys there, although there was no sign of the pizza she had just bought from Tesco, or any of the pizza wrappings.

Her boyfriend Greg Reardon was visiting relatives in Sheffield at the time and reported her missing when he returned to the flat they shared on Sunday.

He said earlier this week: “I desperately want her back – I thought we would be together forever.

“She was my future. This Christmas was going to be our first together. I was going to spend it with her family, which is always a big deal for a boyfriend.

“We were both really happy in our jobs – we worked together and that’s how we met.”

Police investigating her disappearance said they have taken a phone and laptop from Mr Reardon, although he is not a suspect. They were also been given private CCTV footage showing Canynge Road, where the couple lived.

Detective Superintendent Mark Saunders said: “The thing for me is that you can see lots of people walking up and down and vehicles driving up and down on Friday night and the early hours of Saturday morning.

I desperately want her back – I thought we would be together forever. Greg Reardon

“We’d really like to get hold of any of those people because if anyone was in that street, even if you didn’t think you saw anything, please contact us as we’d really like to speak to you. You might be able to help us.”

Last known movements

Miss Yeates left the pub at around 8pm and walked up Park Street. She stopped in a Waitrose, then carried on to a Tesco Express at around 8.40pm. A receipt from Tesco was found in her flat, along with the cream coloured coat she had been wearing. None of her possessions are missing, and her family and friends said the disappearance is very unlike her.

Her best friend, Rebecca Scott, was the last person to speak to Jo. She said “she phoned me on her way home from the pub. She was totally fine and very happy at the time. We are all worried sick and desperate to find her.”

Missing architect Joanna Yeates.

Her parents have appealed for information. “Jo is a vibrant young woman and this is completely out of character for her,” they said. “We need the public’s help to find her.”

They also spoke directly to their daughter, and said: “We want you to know that we love you dearly and are desperate to know that you are safe and well.

“Please get in touch as soon as possible. Either to the police or anyone who can confirm you are OK.”

In an emotional appeal, they described Jo as a loving daughter who would always do things for other people. They said they just want their daughter back.

“For me, it is not the end, it is what happened to her in between,” her father said. “I have got to believe she is alive. She had too much life in her. If it turns out she is not, I still want her back. I just want to hold her for one last time.”

Her parents strongly refuted a suggestion that Jo might have gone away without telling anyone, and said “she and Greg were totally in love.”
They also said that they have put “everything on hold”.

“Christmas is suspended until Jo comes back,” her dad said.