Family of "Disappeared" Gerry Evans hope for closure

Image source, bbc
Image caption,
Gerry Evans went missing aged 24 in County Monaghan in 1979

The family of Gerry Evans are still waiting for formal identification after human remains were found in County Louth.

The Crossmaglen man was last seen in March 1979.

BBC reporter Barbara Collins was with the family as events unfolded at the site in Carrickrobin.

The light was fading when John Hill from the Commission for the Location of Victims' Remains gave the nod that the family and friends of Gerry Evans could go down the narrow, mucky lane to the site where they had found his remains.

Just a few hours before, they had been given the news they had been waiting for. It was obvious from their faces that they were struggling to take it all in.

Two weeks ago, the commission had announced they were winding down the search at Carrickrobin after 16 months of painstaking excavation.


They had unearthed an area the size of four football fields but had found nothing. The family were devastated. Gerry Evans' brother Noel said they were losing hope that he had ever be found.

Image source, (C) British Broadcasting Corporation
Image caption,
The family arrived with a hearse on Friday afternoon

Time was passing, memories were fading and the landscape was changing, but a renewed appeal for information gave the commission what they needed to complete their task.

As we walked down the lane, treading carefully to avoid the pools of mucky water and stones, we saw the huge machines they had used to drain the bog and rakes and shovels lying on the ground.

Further down stood a small temporary building and the cars belonging to the team who'd been working at the remote site, day after day, in all weathers.

They stood now, in their distinctive orange overalls, behind a hearse containing a small coffin.

Beside them, the parish priest, ready to say prayers over the remains.


Mary Evans walked over and stood silently, stoically. Her face was composed, but her hands were shaking. She had waited for this moment for more than three decades.

She had never locked her back door in all that time, hoping that one day Gerry would walk through it. Deep down, she knew he was dead, but she never lost hope that one day she would at least have a grave to visit.

After the priest blessed the coffin with holy water, she turned to shake hands with hands with the people from the Commission who had found her son at last.

Then she got into one of the waiting cars, ready to follow the hearse up the lane.

When it reached the main road, it turned left for Dublin, where forensic scientists will spend the next few weeks formally identifying the remains.

The two cars containing Gerry Evans' immediate family turned right for Crossmaglen.

There was nothing else to wait for at the site, nothing more to do but to go home and wait some more.

But this wait of a few short weeks will be nothing to the three decades they've been waiting to give Gerry Evans the burial they'd prayed for.

More on this story