Wednesday 28 September 2016

Father dies 'with empty heart' as search for daughter continues 15 years after her disappearance

Published 16/03/2016 | 20:10

The father of a woman who went missing from her home over 15 years has died "with an empty heart" as the search for his daughter continues.

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Sandra Collins was last seen after she had bought chips in a local takeaway in Killala, Co Mayo, in 4 December 2000.  She was 28-years-old at the time.

The "kind, selfless" woman is presumed murdered but her body has never been found - and her father Joseph kept searching for answers right until the day he died on February 22.

Sandra's brother Patrick said that, when his father knew he was dying, he made his son promise to "never stop looking for Sandra".

"He was so determined to find her - he was determined up until the day he died," 29-year-old Patrick told independent.ie.

"There was no stopping him, even when he got sick, and his last wish was that I would continue to keep up the fight."

Two weeks after a memorial for Sandra last August, Joseph was told he had fluid on his lung. The 70-year-old was later diagnosed with cancer.

"Daddy found out he had cancer 12 years to the day that Mammy found out," said Patrick.

Patrick's mother passed away of cancer in 2004 and his brother James died in a workplace tragedy in 2000.

"Daddy used to always say goodnight to the three pictures," he told independent.ie.

"But as he realised he was dying, he told me his heart would remain empty until Sandra's bones were found." 

Patrick, his younger siblings David (25), Mary (24), and older sister Bridie (40) have issued a fresh plea for information on Sandra's disappearance.

They have urged people to come forward to give answers about what happened to their beloved Sandra.

‘I’m even appealing to people who have already come forward. I feel personally, and as a family since the trial finished, we believe there is still some information to come out,’ he said.

‘I’d be appealing to them to come forward and tell what they fully and truly know.

Patrick says that the family are not giving up in their quest for answers.

"We are prepared to fight to the bitter end to ascertain what happened to Sandra," he said.

"I know Daddy will give us the courage to keep up the fight. I know he's helping me as he's pushing me on."

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