Investigation into former Sacriston miner's suspected murder continues 20 years after disappearance

Former pit worker Edward Donnelly was last seen on 25 March 2002. Credit: Durham Police

Detectives investigating the suspected murder of a former miner who disappeared 20 years ago say they remain determined to get justice for his friends and family.

Edward Donnelly vanished without trace from his home in Sacriston in 2002.

Police believe he was murdered, and an investigation was launched but, despite extensive enquiries over the years, no-one was ever convicted in connection with his death and his body has not been recovered.

However, detectives say they believe there are members of the community who hold information which could bring the case to a close and are appealing for witnesses to come forward.

Detective Superintendent Lee Gosling, from Durham Police, said: “We remain convinced that someone out there knows what happened to Edward Donnelly and we would appeal to them to come forward so we can finally get justice for his family after all these years.

“Detectives are now speaking to a number of people connected with the case and our major crime team are re-examining evidence which was collated at the time.”

Edward Donnelly was reported missing from his home on Fynway, Sacriston on 25 March 2002. Credit: Google Maps

Edward Donnelly shared a home with his sister on Fynway, Sacriston and she reported him missing on 25 March 2002.

The 53-year-old was last seen in Lloyds Bank, in Sacriston that morning. Further sightings were also reported of him walking alone beside the A167 at Plawsworth, near the Red Lion pub that day.

At the time of his disappearance, his sister said she had returned home later that day to find his keys and other documents posted through the letterbox.

Known to his family and friends as Eddie, Mr Donnelly enjoyed reading and walking in the Durham and Chester-le-Street area.

The former Sacriston Pit mineworker was around 5ft 8in tall, pale and had mousey brown hair.

CCTV taken from Lloyds Bank, Sacriston, shows Mr Donnelly on the morning of his disappearance. Credit: Durham Police

Despite extensive searches at locations in the area, including several abandoned mineworkings and pit shafts, officers were unable at that time to locate Mr Donnelly’s body and what began as a missing person’s inquiry became a murder investigation.

In 2005, five people were arrested in connection with the inquiry, but all were released without charge.

Det Supt Gosling said police were determined to find Mr Donnelly and added: “Eddie Donnelly was a quiet and unassuming man and we have never given up on finding him.

“We have long held the belief that there are people in the village who know what happened to him and know who was involved.

“We would ask anyone with information to call us in confidence as a matter of urgency so that Eddie’s family and friends can have the closure they deserve.”

Anyone with information is urged to contact investigators in confidence on 101 or the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

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