Sister of Arlene Arkinson says pain has not lessened over 25 years

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The sister of Arlene Arkinson has said she’s afraid of dying before the remains of the missing County Tyrone teenager are recovered.

But Kathleen Arkinson will never give up hope of bringing her little sister home.

Twenty-five years ago today the 15-year-old left her Drumnabey Park in Spamount, three miles outside Castlederg, to go to a nightclub in Bundoran. She was last seen with convicted child killer Robert Howard who was tried for her murder but found not guilty in 2005.

Kathleen said the pain has not diminished over the past quarter century.

“I’ve thought about it every day. You watch programmes of people who have been found after 30 years. Why didn’t he let people know? It’s sore at times.

“You can nearly feel the pain. Every time you think on it you’ve a big lump in your throat, and nobody can tell us any different,” she said.

Howard died in prison in 2015 while serving a sentence for the rape and murder of the 14-year-old schoolgirl Hannah Williams in England in 2001.

If he was responsible for Arlene’s murder seven years earlier he never admitted it or divulged where her body was disposed of. And this has been one of the cruellest aspects of the missing person case.

“I just hope she didn’t suffer but I just have that feeling she did suffer. That kind of animal, I wish he was still living.

“He would have been out by now but I would have hunted him down. Before he was dying I said that when he’s out I’ll be waiting outside the prison.

“I said that to my sister and she asked me what was I going to do. I said if you want to come you come and if you don’t you don’t but I’ll be waiting to get him. I was prepared to do jail.

“It’s so, so cruel. I’ll never give up. I’m afraid of dying before she’s found.”

In 2008 the then Police Ombudsman Al Hutchinson found failings in the initial police investigation of Arlene’s disappearance. He found that Howard, who was on bail for serious sexual offences and had been convicted of a number of sexual crimes at the time, should have been arrested sooner than he was.

Regardless, the trauma has never gone away for the Arkinsons.

“I’ve never gone to Bundoran since. I used to go and play slot machines and take the wains. I’ve never, ever gone back,” Kathleen said.

On this the 25th anniversary of her sister’s disappearance, she appealed for anybody with new information to come forward. “I know it’s a quarter of a century, a long, long time, but just anybody out there, anything at all, contact somebody.”

Left, Arlene Arkinson, who disappeared in August 1994, and, right, her sister Kathleen (PA Wire).