Glasgow & West Scotland

Sisters' appeal over young mum missing for 42 years

Mary Duncan Image copyright Police Scotland
Image caption Mary Duncan, pictured at the age of 16, went missing in 1976

The three sisters of a young mother who went missing in West Dunbartonshire 42 years ago are appealing for information to find out what happened to her.

Mary Duncan, who was 17, disappeared from her home in Third Avenue, Bonhill, on 19 March, 1976.

She told her family she was going to meet a friend but never returned.

Mary had become pregnant at 15 and gave birth to a girl, Laura, on 17 February 1975. She did not take her daughter with her when she disappeared.

The baby died of natural causes on 25 October 1976.

Extensive investigations have been carried out in an attempt to gain information about Mary's whereabouts, however, no trace of her has been found.

Image copyright PA
Image caption Left to right, Debbie Rennick, Mandy Duncan and Marion McFarlane appeal for information about their sister

Her sisters Debbie, Marion and Mandy appealed for information at a press conference.

Ms Renwick, 56, said: "Mary was a quiet, happy girl who worked as a machinist. In March 1976 she simply went out to visit her friend in Tullichewan and never came home.

"This was out of character for her and has always been a cause of concern for us.

"Although over 40 years have passed since we last saw her, we still miss her and we dearly long to locate her and bring her home.

"We would ask anyone who knew Mary prior to her disappearance to please share their recollections of her with the police."

Ms Renwick said she no longer believed her sister was alive and said she hoped that in the time that had passed the conscience of anyone with information would now compel them to come forward.

She added: "We just want to bring her home."

Image copyright Cascade News
Image caption Mary's stepfather Norman Duncan was jailed for offences against children

Ms McFarlane, 59, said the smallest piece of information could be the missing piece of the jigsaw which could reveal what happened to their missing sister.

Ms Duncan, 53, became emotional as she added: "We just want her home. We just want her back."

Det Supt Calum Young, revealed that the sisters' stepfather, Norman Duncan, was jailed for five years for historical sexual offences against girls, and had been spoken to as one of a number of lines of inquiry.

The officer said: "At the age of 17, Mary was a devoted mother to a baby girl called Laura. Her family say Mary absolutely adored her daughter and that her disappearance, and leaving Laura behind, was completely out of character.

"Mary left home with no money and she has never claimed benefits, paid tax or national insurance. Her family strongly doubt that she would have had the means or life skills to start a new life and live independently.

"Whilst there is no evidence to suggest that Mary came to any harm, due to the fact that she has not been seen or heard from in 41 years, we can't rule this out.

"Mary's family were left completely devastated by her disappearance, a pain which lives with them to this day, and it is vital that we get to the bottom of what happened to their sister and provide them with some closure."

Slightest detail

He added: "I would ask anyone who knew Mary or her family in the years before her disappearance to please get in touch to help us piece together the details of her life around the time she went missing.

"No matter how insignificant you think your help may be, let us be the judge of that, because even the slightest detail could be important. Even if you spoke to the police back in 1976, there's been a huge passage of time and we would like to speak to you again."

He said Mary was known to frequent the area around the Vale of Leven Hospital in Alexandria and appealed to anyone who worked there in 1976 to come forward.

"I believe the answer to what happened to Mary lies within the local community and it is very possible that someone does have information and is concerned about coming forward now because they should have contacted the police 41 years ago," he added.

"If anyone is in this situation, please don't be concerned about that. The important thing is that you come forward now and tell us what you know.

"As we've seen today, for her family Mary's disappearance is clearly still really raw despite the passage of time.

"It's really important on this occasion that we get help from the public because I'm sure they have the answers."

Mary was last seen wearing a mid-length navy skirt, black platform shoes, a green, hooded, zipped top and a black and white dogtooth check coat.

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