Cambridgeshire

Ely Deborah Steel murder detectives appeal for taxi driver

Deborah Steel Image copyright Cambridgeshire Police
Image caption Pub landlady Deborah Steel disappeared in December 1997

Detectives investigating the 1997 murder of a pub landlady say they want to speak again to a taxi driver who they believe took her home.

Deborah Steel, who ran the Royal Standard in Ely, Cambridgeshire, was last seen at about 01:00 on 28 December of that year.

The case was reclassified as a murder inquiry in 2014, but despite three arrests her body has never been found.

Police say they're "keen to have a proper conversation" with the driver.

Image caption Police believe Deborah Steel took a taxi to her home in Longfields after a shift at the pub

Cambridgeshire Police said Ms Steel had returned to her home in Longfields - about a mile (1.6km) from the pub - in the early hours after completing a Saturday night shift.

The 37-year-old's mobile phone, keys and medication were found in the house, along with distinctive jewellery she always wore.

Image copyright Cambridgeshire Police
Image caption Deborah Steel's jewellery was found at her Ely home

Det Ch Insp Adam Gallop, from the Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire Major Crime Unit, said: "The evidence gathered strongly suggests that she was picked up by a local taxi driver that she knew well.

"I believe Deborah was murdered and I am convinced the answers to what happened to her lie in Ely."

He added: "Her parents died without knowing what happened to her. The rest of her family deserve to know what took place."

Image caption Bulldozers unearth the garden at Deborah Steel's former home in Longfields in 2014

Police reopened the missing persons case as a murder inquiry in 2014.

Three men, then aged 50, 70 and 73, all from Ely, were arrested during the investigation, but released with no action taken in 2015.

The patio area of the Royal Standard pub - as well as the garden of the house in Longfields - were excavated. Nothing was found.

Image caption The Royal Standard pub in Ely today

Ms Steel's sister, Gini Secker, 54, said: "I knew the first few weeks after her disappearance that she was no longer of this world because I hadn't heard from her.

"It's very sad that our father went to his grave without laying Debbie to rest.

"Someone knows her fate."

Image copyright Cambridgeshire Police
Image caption Deborah Steel's 1997 disappearance became a murder inquiry in 2014

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