'My mother and father both died of a broken heart' - Brother of missing Fiona calls for cold-case review
Only surviving brother of missing Fiona Pender also shares, for the first time, a letter written by his mother to missing Fiona on August 22, 2011
The only surviving brother of missing Fiona Pender has called for a cold case review of her case to be carried out and spoke of his mother’s hope for the chief suspect to be “brought to justice”.
Pregnant Ms Pender (25) disappeared 21 years ago, on August 22, 1996, from her flat in Tullamore, Co Offaly.
Her mother Josephine, a staunch campaigner for missing persons, died almost two weeks ago at the age of 68, leaving behind only one son John.
Her other son Mark died in a motorcycle accident 14 months before part-time model Fiona’s disappearance while her husband Sean took his own life in 2000.
In a hard-hitting statement, released to Independent.ie, Fiona’s brother John said he will continue to search for his missing sister and her unborn baby.
“I am now calling for a full garda review and or a cold case review into my sister’s case.”
According to Mr Pender, there is only one chief suspect in the disappearance and “that has never changed”.
The suspect, who has since emigrated, was at the centre of a significant development in the case when his then wife came forward to police in another jurisdiction three years ago to say that he made threats to her.
A search was carried out on lands in Co Laois on foot of this information but nothing was found.
Referring to this, Mr Pender said: “I would like to thank his [the suspect’s] wife who reported him to police and claimed he told her ‘I’ll do to you what I did to Fiona’. His wife was brave and strong for coming forward and me and my mother believed her but my mother always said she hoped no woman would have to suffer in order for him to be brought to justice. Sadly this woman suffered."
The man was cleared of all charges against him.
He continued: “This man is now in a new relationship with a healthcare worker in another jurisdiction. Life for him carries on, while my whole family was destroyed. My mother and father both died of a broken heart and I have only been able to say goodbye to one family member, my mother, who passed away from natural causes – while no one else in my family did.
“It has been a struggle over the years, but the torch has been passed to me to find my sister.”
Mr Pender has also shared, for the first time, a letter written by his mother to missing Fiona on August 22, 2011.
This letter was read out by Fiona’s friend Emer Condron at Mrs Pender’s funeral last Saturday at St Colmcille’s Church, Durrow, Co Offaly.
He said: “My mother was a hero, she never gave up or gave in looking for my sister. In the face of such heartache…. my mother kept fighting, kept hoping and kept searching for Fiona right up until the end.”
In the heartbreaking letter Josephine addressed her daughter directly: “When we lost your brother Mark on 12th June 1995 you said to me ‘nothing worse can happen to us now mam’. We did not know then that 14 months later we would lose you and your baby on 22nd. August 1996 and your dad on 31st March 2000 from a broken heart after losing his children.
“When I lost you Fi my first born, my beautiful only daughter I lost my best friend with whom I could discuss anything, my shopping companion you had such a flair for fashion. Oh the shoes and handbags we could have bought together Fi.”
Josephine, who was deeply religious, wrote that her daughter was now in heaven and begged her to help them find her and her baby.
“Emer and I have searched far and wide trying to find you and will never give up until we do.”
She continued: “I hope you are in the light Fi as I know you did not like the dark. I also hope your feet are warm oh how I long to rub them for you as we did when they were cold.
“I greatly regret not being able to help you on the birth of your baby my grandchild. My heart and my arms ache never to have been able to hold and look after your baby.”