MAPIT

The Southampton Disappearance

Throughout my years of research I have read numerous articles in regards strange and profound disappearances, but never thought I'd be involved in such an investigation... That is until I received a surprising telephone call from a crime division police officer from Southampton UK.

 

I remember this very clearly... It was August 4th 2003. The telephone rang and a police officer from Southampton by the name of detective Paul Ronson asked if I could assist with a rather perculiar investigation. He did not want to go into detail over the phone so I arranged to meet up with him to discuss the case. A few days later I came face to face with Officer Ronson who informed of of the perculiarities of this particular investigation...

 

Michelle Richards, her husband Paul and 5 month old child, Thomas lived a a three bedroom house on a relatively new housing estate about three miles out of Southamton town center. Paul Richards, an office worker had just got his new company car. A Rover, and it was in green... his favourite colour. Paul was generally a man of habit and every other Friday he would go out with his friends to a local public house. Paul had finished work on this particular Friday, got in around 5.45pm, had his tea and went upstairs to get changed. He was to leave his house around 7.30pm so to meet up with his friends. He was particularly excited as he was going to show off his new company car for the first time. Paul rushed upstairs to get ready whilst his wife Michelle was left to clear the kitchen and put the pots away. Around 15 minutes later, Michelle had cleaned up and was making herself a cup of coffee in the kitchen when she realised that Paul had been upstairs a while. She thought to herself, had Paul gone out without saying goodbye? Michelle walked to the bottom of the stairs and listened... It was completely quiet. Thomas was asleep in the lounge and no noise was coming from upstairs. Micheele shouted out for Paul, but there was no answer. She looked around and could clearly see Paul's new company car sat outside the house. Surely he must still be in Michelle thought.

miss 1

Michelle shouted up for Paul again, but there was silence... Michelle decided to go up and investigate. She walked into their bedroom and imediately noticed Paul's car keys on the side of the dressing unit. There was no sign of Paul, nor any evidence to suggest he had got changed. She called out to Paul again, shouting 'You dare bloody jump out on me and you've had it'. She searched the upstairs expecting Paul to jump out at her. But there was no sign of him. Puzzled, she went back downstairs to look around for him. He was clearly not in the house or garden. Michelle thought it was strange. If Paul had gone out, he had not got changed, not taken his new car, not taken his keys with him, and never said goodbye. Strange...

Michelle telephoned her mother who only lived around the corner from her. She told her what had happened, but Michelle's mother told her that Paul was probably playing a joke and wait for him to get in. Michelle did just that. She waited... and waited... expecting Paul in at around 10.30pm... but it was now 11.15pm, and still no sign of him. Michelle rang her mother back. She was now becoming a little panicked. Michelle's mother told her to calm down and to wait a little longer. Michelle waited until 12.40pm before ringing her mother back. She was now concerned and considered ringing the police. Michelle's mother agreed. At approximately 1.10am Michelle rang the police and reported her husband missing. The desk officer took some notes but informed Michelle that her husband would have to have been missing over a day before they officially would log a missing persons report. Michelle was upset and agreed to ring the police back weather or not her husband turned up. Michelle spent the best part of the early morning talking with her family...

 

The following day, Paul had still not turned up. Michelle's mother had called round to see her and waited till 8.30pm before ringing the police herself. It was arranged that a police officer will attend the home in the morning to collect a statement. It was now Sunday morning. Officer Steven's attended the family home and obtained a statement...

miss 2 miss 3

Over the following three weeks Michelle was visited numerous times by police officers and questioned. The police had even considered foul play carried out by Michelle herself. An official missing persons was now logged. Michelle was beside herself, upset and distrort. Time went on... and on a Monday, exactly three weeks and three days later, Michelle was cooking food in the kitchen around 7.48pm when she heard a bang come from upstairs. She listened quietly and could clearly hear someone milling about upstairs. She reluctantly walked to the bottom of the stairs and shouted out 'Who's up there?'. Then what she heard completely amazed her... A voice replied, 'It's just me, shutting the cupboard doors'.

Michelle recognised the voice imediately. It was Paul's. She ran, stumbling up the stairs, ran into the bedroom and saw Paul standing there with his brush in his hands. She flung her arms around him, crying and sobbing. 'What's wrong? What's happened'? Asked Paul. Michelle replied 'Where have you been?' 'What you talking about, I'm just getting dressed?' said Paul. Michelle tried her best to explain that he had been missing for over three weeks. Paul refused to believe her and thought she was joking. In fact, it took over a day for Paul to be fully convinced her had somehow disappeared and had no recollection of what had happened to him in the time he was missing.

 

Police attended the home and after interviewing Paul and Michelle again were perplexed. One officer even explained that it was a criminal offence to waste police time and resources, indicating that he did not believe their story. As far as Paul was concerned, he had gone upstairs to get changed, got some clothes out of the wardrobe, shut the doors and grabbed his hairbrush when Michelle shouted out to him 'Who's up there'? It was all so very confusing... Paul had no idea that he had been missing, for him, there simply was no missing time... The police report was eventually closed with no explanation or conclusion met...

Now... By an odd twist of fate, the report was placed in a file, presumed never to be opened again. But that was not the case. Nine months later, the police station received another telephone call from Michelle. Crying and sobbing on the phone, she said 'It's Happened Again'! Michelle had once again been cleaning up after tea and Paul had gone upstairs to get changed, but after several minutes Michelle heard nothing but silence. She went to the bottom of the stairs and shouted up to Paul. Once again she was met with a chilling silence... Just as last time, Paul's keys were on the dressing table, he had not changed clothes and again HE WAS GONE!!!

Another missing persons report was filed and the old case file once agaihn became active. Michelle has gone under several forms of questioning in regards wasting police time and suspicion has fallen onto her in regards playing jokes. The thing is... TTHIS TIME... PAUL DID NOT RETURN!!!

 

To date, Michelle still lives in that three bedroom house. It now almost been 9 years, and Paul has not returned. Michelle's mother has asked her to move in with her, but Michelle refuses to leave the family home. Just in case Paul comes back. When asked Michelle states, if he should suddenly turn up, I'm just gonna grab a few things and were are not stepping ihn this house again. The police report sat on a shelf for a number of years as an unknown, and due to auditors the police officer in charge was asked to conclude, and at this point decided to seek alternative assistance. Unfortunately, I was unable to provide any relevant information. The house was no different than many others. None of the equipment I brought in gave any unusual readings. Just as the police, I could find no reason to think there was foul play nor a joke being played on the police. Psychological assessment of Michelle and her mother indicated a real trauma, which would suggest she and her family members were telling the truth. For now, the case still remains unsolved and Michelle, still sits there every night in hope and anticipation of her husband finally re-appearing...

 

Steve Mera BSc.

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