CamdenNewJournal

The independent London newspaper

Lana Purcell: Detectives offer £20k reward for help solving woman’s disappearance

Police hope old aquantainces may now come forward due to the passing of time

14 September, 2020 — By Dan Carrier

Lana Purcell with her daughter Megan

DETECTIVES have announced a £20,000 reward for information as they look to finally solve the disappearance of a woman almost 10 years ago.

In one of Camden’s most tragic and long-running mysteries, Lana Purcell, who had a six year old daughter, disappeared in January 2011 and has not been seen since.

Originally a missing persons’ inquiry, detectives have more recently stated that they believe Lana, 27, may have been murdered.

Now a fresh investigation has been launched with the reward in the hope it will bring forward what Detecive Inspector Mike Stubbins described as a “golden nugget” of information.

Lana was well known around the Queen’s Crescent area, where she grew up. Friends recall a fun-loving, well-meaning woman who was deeply loved and was in daily contact with her family.

She had gone through bouts of ill health due to substance abuse and detectives have previously believed her disappearance was linked to her lifestyle.

Speaking at the Metropolitan Police headquarters New Scotland Yard today (Monday), John Purcell, Lana’s father, told the New Journal: “It has been nine years and 10 months since I last saw my daughter. We want some closure and to able to grieve. I can’t grieve at the moment. We want to hope that she is alive – some days we think she is, but some days we just cannot.”

He added: “We used to joke she was like a bad penny – she’d always turn up, even if you didn’t want her to! She would aways come back. But after nine years, she still hasn’t come home. This chips away in my mind, and keeps me awake at night.”

DI Stubbins has taken on the investigation. It had previously been reviewed by a cold case murder unit, which led to two addresses Lana stayed at in Gosepl Oak and Camden Town being searched four years ago.

But no new evidence was obtained.

DI Stubbins said his team had more time and resources available and, having taken up the case in March, had rigourously revisited statements and evidence that had been collated through almost a decade of searching for clues.

He said: “We have hope and we have confidence and are doing all we can to push this investigation. We feel after this amont of time, the circumstances of people who were around Lana will have changed. People have moved away from the community, somebody, somewhere will have moved on in their lives but always had that burden of knowing something. Allegiances change. These are the people we are pushing to come forward.”

John and Megan Purcell with Detective Inspector Mike Stubbins at Scotland Yard today (Monday)

DI Stubbins said the Holborn Missing Persons Unit, who were first tasked with looking for her in 2011, had done all they could with their resources and his team were in a good position to build on previous work.

Rumours regarding why she disappeared have been shared amongst the close knit community she grew up in over the years, leading to lines of inquiry that had to be considered before they could be dismissed.

The last confirmed sighting of Lana is said to be on Monday January 17 2011 in Wellesley Road, Gospel Oak. Officers believe she might have been heading into Soho or the West End as at the time she been earning money as a sex worker.

Officers will concentrate on areas Lana was known to visit – around her last registered address at a flat in Agar Grove, and in Queen’s Crescent, Gospel Oak, Prince of Wales Road and elsewhere.

The push for fresh informaton will be marshalled by teams of officers knocking on doors, handing out 5,000 leaflets and posters over the coming days, and see appeals for her friends and acquaintances to come forward.

DI Stubbins vowed that the case would not remain unsolved.

He said: “We will never stop. We will cover every possible avenue. Our determination to find out what happened to Lana remains undiminished.  Her family have had to endure 10 years of torment. Her daughter, Megan, who is now 15, has grown up without her mother.”

“We owe it to her and all of Lana’s family to find out what happened and if she has come to harm, to find those responsible and bring them to justice. I am very confident that there will be people who know full well what happened to Lana but have not yet spoken to us. But during my time in the police service I have seen many examples of years passing and then eventually the crucial piece of information we need is given that allows us to solve a case.”

“People who were once frightened of what they think might happen if they spoke to the police, eventually do speak to us in the strictest of confidence. And I believe that can and will happen with Lana’s case.”

The detective added the case was being treated as ‘unknown’ rather than a murder investigation, and included missing persons’ experts.

Lana Purcell

Mr Purcell said the reward would give his family some hope.

He added: “I am pleading to anyone who has any information concerning Lana’s whereabouts or anyone that knows anything regarding the circumstances of Lana’s disappearance to please help us.

“We as a family and myself as Lana’s father are so desperate to find out what has happened to our Lana. This has devastated us as a family and torn our lives apart. If anybody who knew Lana and knows anything at all that can help bring my daughter back home to us please, please call the number provided.”

Mr Purcell said if could send Lana a message today, he would simply say: “Get yourself home. I used to say that to her when she was late coming in – get yourself home. Her friends used to say ‘Lana, your dad’s coming round to get you’. I just want her home.”

*Anyone with information into the disappearance of Lana Purcell is asked to call the incident room on 020 8345 1570, or 101 quoting Op Kagal.

Alternatively, tweet @MetCC, or to remain 100% anonymous, contact the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

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