Family of missing Co Down woman feel that ‘justice is coming’ after 18 years of anguish
February will mark 18 years since she vanished. Her body has never been recovered.
Police have two suspects — the murderer and a close relative who is believed to have helped bury Lisa’s remains.
While a number of people have been arrested and questioned, no one has been charged.
People with information about her death have refused to hand it over, even anonymously.
However, graffiti naming the suspects has appeared in multiple locations over the past few years, most recently in public toilets in west Belfast, Ballyhackamore in the east of the city and Templepatrick.
“Someone was making a concerted effort to make sure we were seeing that”, said Lisa’s sister Joanne.
“If you’ve got more come to me, tell me, don’t write it in toilets. Speak to me or speak to Crimestoppers.
“Maybe that is all this person knows, but maybe they know more.”
Christmas is a difficult time of for the family, marking another year without knowing where Lisa’s body is.
Joanne has never stopped campaigning for information to bring her sister’s remains home.
Lisa (25) was last seen alive on the night of February 27, 2005, at Ballyhalbert Caravan Park.
Police believe she was murdered that night or in the early hours of the following morning.
A number of searches for her body have been held across north Down, but they have all proven unsuccessful. Joanne said: “It’s nearly 18 years and we just feel the same way that we did at the start. You learn to live, but you miss her every day.
“My boys are now at an age where they talk about her. One made a reel video of her and put a song on it, the other drew an angel and wrote ‘For Lisa’ on it.
“They know that she’s missing, and they accept that, but it shows what a big part of our lives she still is that even family who never met her know all about her.
“There’s 13 of us at Dad’s on Christmas Day. Obviously we are missing Mum now as well”.
Lisa’s mother Pat died in December 2015 without knowing what happened to her.
“It’s tough for any family, but not having that comfort and truth is what led to Mum not being here as well,” Joanne said.
“You just think it is really unfair that someone else had to die because of what happened to Lisa, and that is the truth — it did kill my mum.
“She never found the motivation to live after Lisa. This is our day and daily.
The murder of Natalie McNally, who was stabbed to death in her Lurgan home while 15 weeks pregnant, made Joanne question how violence against women could be stopped.
“We don’t know what happened to Lisa. She’s just missing and that’s all that we know, but it does make me ask, ‘How we can stop this?’” she said.
Joanne changed jobs after her sister went missing. She now works with victims of violence and has dedicated her life to not just searching for her sister but to helping other families who have a missing loved one.
“We reach out to families all over Ireland and I work with K9 Rescue,” she said.
“I’ve learned a lot over the years about missing people and how police handle investigations. I think it’s a good position to be in that I can help other people.”
The Crimestoppers charity has offered a reward of up to £20,000 for information leading to either the arrest and conviction of those responsible for the murder of Lisa, or for information that results in the recovery of her body.
The family also raised money of their own thanks to a number of donations. The reward remains on offer.
“There’s £85,000 there someone can have. Name their price, they can have whatever they want. We just want her back,” Joanne explained.
“Money means nothing to us. We just want Lisa back.
“You get to the stage where you think, ‘Why do we still have to do this?’ It’s too much. It has been too long now. A baby born the year Lisa went missing would be an adult now. That’s how long we’ve been waiting to find her and get justice.
“The justice is coming. I know it’s coming, which is why I will never name people publicly.
“It’s so important for us to get justice and be able to find Lisa.
Anyone with information can contact Crimestoppers on freephone 0800 555 111 or online at www.crimestoppers-uk.org. Any information supplied is confidential, there is no caller display, no 1471 facility and computer IP addresses are never traced or provided to the police.