Parts of a mysterious letter naming the “killer” of a man missing for 28 years are being published for the first time in the Daily Mirror today.
Police investigating the disappearance of Steven Clark hope the distinctive handwriting will identify the sender.
They say the writer may be well educated and seems to have exact details about Steven, who vanished, aged 23, on December 28, 1992, in Saltburn, North Yorks.
Disabled Steven, who lived nearby at Marske-by-the-Sea, was said to have gone into a public loo while his mother went to the ladies.
In September his mum Doris, 81, and dad Charles, 78, were arrested on suspicion of murder following a cold case review. They were released on bail.
Police believe the anonymous letter writer giving information about what may have happened to Steven could prove to be a key witness.
Det Chief Insp Shaun Page said: “I believe the person who wrote the letter knew Steven was dead, and claims to know the person responsible. It is very precise so is one of the key lines of inquiry in this investigation.
“We don’t know if the writer is a man or a woman.”
It was posted to Guisborough police station in North Yorkshire but, as it was sent 21 years ago, Mr Page fears the writer may now be dead.
He said: “If anyone recognises the handwriting, we would urge them to get in touch.
“The terms used and style of writing could suggest this was a well-educated person. They were trying to help.”
Cleveland Police have also been contacted by a key witness who saw Steven, who has a disabled left arm and walks with a slight limp, alive between 3-4pm on the day he disappeared.
The woman recognised him from the press coverage following the recent cold case review.
She said he was in Marske-by-the-Sea, after Doris said she left the toilet in Saltburn, about three miles away. He was walking down the street near to the family’s home.
Mr Page said “proof of life” inquiries had failed to reveal Steven’s whereabouts, leading the police cold case team to conclude he had come to harm.
He said: “Alongside this letter, we have a number of key lines of enquiry that are significant in the investigation. There is nothing to suggest he is still alive.
“When he disappeared, he had left his wallet, spectacles, watch and personal belongings behind.
“Given his disabilities, we believe it would have been difficult for him to get far on the day he went missing. People have told us about his difficulties walking and his slow pace.”
Steven had just won an Apprentice of the Year Award from the Rathbone Society, which supports young people with physical and learning difficulties. But he had not collected the £1,000 cash prize which went with it.
Mr Page said: “We know that he was at a good stage in his life socially. He was in a new relationship, and happy.
“Steven has been described as extremely sociable and kind.”
He said: “The family had lived in South Africa for many years, he [Steven] returned when he was around 20.
“Due to the political situation in South Africa at that time. Steven was enjoying a lot more freedom in his new life here – he was going to the pub and had a good social life.”
Steven’s parents deny any wrongdoing.