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ongoing agony Family of murdered Lisa Dorrian still have hope her body will be found 17 years on

'We had no reason to suspect that someone would have wanted to hurt Lisa, or that someone would have wanted to hurt Lisa, killed her and hidden her body.'

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Lisa Dorrian - picture courtesy of the Dorrian family

Lisa Dorrian - picture courtesy of the Dorrian family

Lisa Dorrian - picture courtesy of the Dorrian family

The family of Bangor woman Lisa Dorrian have never given up hope that her body and her killer will be found.

The 25-year-old disappeared from a caravan site in Ballyhalbert in February 2005 and despite hundreds of searches and a high-profile campaign, no trace of her has ever been found.

For new series Murder in the Badlands, which began last Monday, her family laid bare the devastating impact Lisa's disappearance has had on them.

Mum Pat died in 2015 without ever learning what happened to her daughter and dad John says he's learned to cope with the ongoing nightmare by never raising his hopes about any new development.

The investigation has been plagued by rumours and misinformation to deliberately throw police off the track of Lisa's killer, but the senior investigating officer believes the truth still lies in Ballyhalbert.

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The Dorrian family releasing doves.  Photographer: Fine Point Films/ Cyprus Avenue Films

The Dorrian family releasing doves. Photographer: Fine Point Films/ Cyprus Avenue Films

The Dorrian family releasing doves. Photographer: Fine Point Films/ Cyprus Avenue Films

Joanne Dorrian, who's led the 17-year campaign with sister Michelle to discover how Lisa died and the location of her remains, says her previous life stopped the day she went missing.

"I categorise my life now in two ways, before Lisa went missing and after Lisa went missing, because I'm two different people," she says.

She also carries the burden of advice she gave to her sister after Lisa had split up with her boyfriend and confided that she found it too painful to be in the same social circle, when Joanne advised her to find new friends.

"I had no idea the impact that would have. She then did go and find new friends and that's really what led to her being murdered."

On the night of the murder Lisa had been at a party in a caravan on the Ballyhalbert site.

According to the last person to see her alive, a 17-year-old who worked as a groundsman, they were the only two people there at 5am when they were alarmed by noises and flashing lights outside. He says they ran outside and in opposite directions and she was never seen again.

Joanne knew within hours that something was very wrong, and after speaking to the teenager the family started their own search of the site.

"The story that we were being told, that Lisa ran out of the caravan and went one way and the young guy went the other way, didn't change. That's all we had to go on.

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"We had no reason to suspect that someone would have wanted to hurt Lisa, or that someone would have wanted to hurt Lisa, killed her and hidden her body.

"The only thing that we could do was search so we walked and walked and walked.

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Lisa Dorrian with sisters Michelle & Joanne. Picture courtesy of the Dorrian family

Lisa Dorrian with sisters Michelle & Joanne. Picture courtesy of the Dorrian family

Lisa Dorrian with sisters Michelle & Joanne. Picture courtesy of the Dorrian family

"I remember saying we are actually looking for Lisa's body because I thought she must have just fell and the cold got had maybe got to her because we had never lived in a world where murder even featured.

"We knew something was wrong, but I didn't know about murder."

Nine days after Lisa's disappearance police opened a murder inquiry. A blizzard of misinformation followed, linking the LVF to her killing and suggesting various locations for her body, all to deflect attention from the real culprit.

"From then it felt like one day was the same as the next and the next and the next."

Pat Dorrian refused to set foot in Ballyhalbert and never recovered from her daughter's disappearance.

"My mum was a really maternal person but when Lisa went missing my mum totally changed. She just lost her zest for life. She said she just didn't want to be here anymore," says Joanne.

The Dorrian family has offered a reward, kept up a media campaign, made a cinema appeal and been helped by Snow Patrol. There have been land and water searches which have raised their hopes but yielded no new evidence.

But their hope hasn't dimmed, and Joanna believes they will see her killer in court, and find Lisa.

"We always have an opportunity to find Lisa because they are not above the law. The police have never worked harder to try and get someone to justice, and I'm confident we are going to be able to do that."

The SIO on the case, Jason Murphy, believes the key to the 17-year-old mystery lies close to where Lisa was last seen alive.

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pisode: Lisa Dorrian  (No. 1) - Picture Shows: Caravan Park, Ballyhalbert  
Fine Point Films/ Cyprus Avenue Films

pisode: Lisa Dorrian (No. 1) - Picture Shows: Caravan Park, Ballyhalbert Fine Point Films/ Cyprus Avenue Films

pisode: Lisa Dorrian (No. 1) - Picture Shows: Caravan Park, Ballyhalbert Fine Point Films/ Cyprus Avenue Films

"I have always believed the answers lie in Ballyhalbert. There was no evidence Lisa had a means to escape Ballyhalbert," he says.

"She was not equipped for cold weather, she had no money, no passport, she had no mobile phone. The only explanation for her not being in Ballyhalbert is that someone else has taken her away but in taking her away from that location that individual first of all had to be in that location, and that's why I believe the answers lie in Ballyhalbert."

The four-part series also looks at the murders of three other young women. Marian Beattie from Portadown was found dead after falling 100 feet into a quarry near Aughnacloy in 1973. No one was ever charged with her killing.

Arlene Arkinson disappeared in 1994 after accepting a lift from Robert Howard, later convicted of the rape and murder of a teenage girl in England. The remains of the 15-year-old, from Castlederg, were never found. Howard died in 2015 and an inquest last year ruled he had killed Arlene.

The killing of German backpacker Inga Maria Hauser also remains unsolved. The 18-year-old's body was found in Ballypatrick Forest in 1988, two weeks after she'd last been seen arriving in Larne on the ferry from Stranraer.

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