herald

Monday 11 December 2017

Brother of missing Fiona calls on gardai to do cold case review

John Pender
John Pender

The only surviving brother of missing Fiona Pender has called for a cold case review and told of his mother's hope for the chief suspect to be brought to justice.

Pregnant Ms Pender (25) disappeared on August 22, 1996, from her flat in Tullamore, Co Offaly.

Her mother, Josephine, a tireless campaigner for missing people, died nearly two weeks ago at the age of 68, leaving behind a son, John.

Accident

Her other son, Mark, died in a motorbike accident 14 months before part-time model Fiona's disappearance, while her husband, Sean, took his own life in 2000.

In a hard-hitting statement, John Pender said he will continue to search for his missing sister.

"I am calling for a full garda review, and/or a cold case review into my sister's case," he said.

According to Mr Pender, there is a chief suspect in the disappearance and "that has never changed".

The suspect, who has since emigrated, was at the centre of a significant development in the case when his then wife came forward to police in another jurisdiction three years ago to say he had made threats against her.

A search was carried out on land in Co Laois on foot of this information, but nothing was found.

Referring to this, Mr Pender said: "I would like to thank the suspect's wife who reported him to police and claimed he told her, 'I'll do to you what I did to Fiona'.

John's missing sister Fiona
John's missing sister Fiona

"His wife was brave and strong for coming forward, and me and my mother believed her, but my mother always said she hoped no woman would have to suffer in order for him to be brought to justice. Sadly, this woman suffered."

The man was cleared of all charges against him.

"This man is now in a new relationship in another jurisdiction. Life for him carries on while my whole family was destroyed," said Mr Pender.

"My mother and father both died of a broken heart and I have only been able to say goodbye to one family member, my mother, who passed away from natural causes - no one else in my family did."

Mr Pender has also shared, for the first time, a letter written by his mother to missing Fiona on August 22, 2011.

It was read out by Fiona's friend, Emer Condron, at Mrs Pender's funeral in Durrow, Co Offaly.

Mrs Pender addressed her daughter directly, writing: "When we lost your brother Mark on June 12, 1995, you said to me, 'Nothing worse can happen to us now, Mam'.

"We did not know then that 14 months later we would lose you and your baby on August 22, 1996, and your dad on March 31, 2000, from a broken heart after losing his children."

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