The grandmother of Blackpool teenager Paige Chivers, who vanished in 2007, today criticised the police for “failing” her granddaughter – and is urging them to reinvestigate her case on the sixth anniversary of her disappearance.
Dorothy Chivers, 74, said the police have “never seemed interested enough” in the disappearance of Paige, and fears the search for the missing teen will be completely abandoned following her father Frank’s death, aged 49, on Sunday.
Mrs Chivers, said: “In my opinion the police never did enough to find Paige.
“Frank did get some updates from the police in the early days that were fed back to the rest of the family but the police never really seemed interested to me.
“I feel they failed Paige in the same way they failed that other missing girl Charlene Downes.
“My concern now is that the police will lose even more interest now Frank has gone.
“I want to see them reinvestigate her case and help us get the answers we need.”
The police case into the former Montgomery High School pupil’s disappearance is still officially open.
She went missing just months after her mum Shelia died, after an argument with her dad in 2007.
Now 21, she was last seen boarding the number 11 bus on Ashfield Road, near to her family home in Bispham, on August 23.
Her family have put out numerous appeals through the media since she vanished after packing a suitcase and leaving her home on Longford Avenue.
Detectives originally treated her disappearance as a missing persons case, until eventually upgrading to a murder investigation in December 2009.
But despite admitting her family have sometimes feared the worst, Paige’s grandma said she is hopeful she is still alive.
Mrs Chivers, of Collins Avenue, Bispham, said: “I have no idea what happened to Paige or where she is.
“It’s hard to believe she has been missing six years.
“We try and keep hopeful. But we don’t know if she is still living.
“I don’t think she is in Blackpool any more though.
“I have no idea what I’d say to her if I saw her again, that is a really hard one.
“But, if she reads this I’d tell her to come back home to her family. It’s horrible to think the police have pronounced her dead. I don’t think it’s nice when there is no evidence.
“It’s very upsetting, even if in my own heart I worry about that too.”
Police launched a missing persons investigation after she was reported missing three days after she disappeared.
Officers searched the Fylde coast for the teenager and even followed leads up in the North East, Manchester, Croydon, Nottingham, and Sheffield.
Paige’s disappearance echoed the case of 14-year-old Charlene Downes, from Blackpool, who vanished without trace on November 1, 2003. Despite two men taking to the dock charged with murder, no one has ever been convicted and Charlene’s body never discovered.
A £2,000 reward was put up by a local businessman and the police and in May 2008 an underwater search team dredged a lake on Kincraig Road, in Bispham.
A 51-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of murder in December 2009 but was released without charge. Detectives upgraded the investigation into Paige’s disappearance to a murder hunt, but despite a huge investigation and repeated appeals through the media, there has been no confirmed sightings of the schoolgirl.
Detective Chief Insp Mark Rothwell from Lancashire Police’s Major Investigation Team said: “Since 2007 the disappearance of Paige Chivers has been one of the largest inquires Lancashire Constabulary has ever undertaken.
“Despite interviewing thousands of people, sadly to date we have been unable to find out exactly what has happened to her.
“The inquiry is a murder investigation and Lancashire Constabulary keeps all such cases under continuing review. No case is ever closed whilst it remains unsolved and despite the passage of time the Force Major Investigation Team remains committed to finding out the truth about what has happened to Paige.
“The investigation is ongoing and any new lines of enquiry will be looked into. I would stress that it is never too late for people to come forward and anyone with any information about the disappearance of Paige Chivers should contact Blackpool Police on (01253) 293933 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.”
Anyone with information about Paige’s whereabouts can also call police on 101.
Dad never gave up hope
Frank Chivers never gave up hope of finding his missing daughter.
Over the past six years he regularly spoke to The Gazette about the difficulties of not knowing where Paige is.
Speaking from his home in Walter Robinson Court, Layton last year, he said: “I think about her all the time.
“When someone passes away, their family can bury their body – but we don’t know where Paige is. That’s the hard part –not knowing.
“Instead of being a missing child case, it’s now a murder case. It was upsetting –it’s just because of the span of time so there is always hope.”
Mr Chivers also appealed directly to Paige through the paper.
In 2008 he even penned an emotional letter begging the schoolgirl to return home and painfully acknowledging the argument he had with his daughter just before she left.
Speaking directly to Paige, Mr Chivers wrote: “I understand that life before you left wasn’t easy and I wasn’t always the best role model for you and your younger brother.
“I sit and pray every night wishing you are looked over and kept safe. Last Christmas was so hard without you here.
“I promise you that as soon as you walk through the door, the argument we had last year and the problems we have both shared over the last 16 months will be forgotten.
“I love you with all my heart Paige and would love for you to come home.”
At Christmas in 2007, he said: “It would be the best Christmas present in the world if Paige came home.
“She loves this time of year and I can’t bear to think of her out there on her own on the streets.
“I’ve got presents for her, but I don’t really want to celebrate. It’s like living a nightmare not knowing where she is.”
Mr Chivers even remained positive when police arrested someone on suspicion of murder in December 2009.
He said: “They’ve arrested someone on suspicion of murder, but I don’t think it’s that. I don’t believe that’s what has happened. I still believe she’s alive. It’s just a routine inquiry.
“He’s only being held for questioning. It’s the same scenario as before, it’s no different.”
How the tragedy unfolded
August 23, 2007: Paige Chivers walks out of her Longford Road home in Bispham.
August 26, 2007: Her father reports Paige missing to police.
January 2008: Paige’s favourite TV star Jeremy Kyle makes a plea through The Gazette for her to come home.
January 2008: Two people arrested on suspicion of murder. Both freed without charge.
February 17, 2008: Paige’s 16th birthday.
July 19, 2008: Police distribute leaflets and display posters of Paige at Bispham Gala.
December 11, 2008: Police search garages in Cranbrook Avenue, Bispham.
February 2, 2009: A 40-year-old man arrested on suspicion of murder. released without charge.
April 2, 2009: Information appeal about Paige’s case put on the back of buses.
November 2009: Posters appealing for help in finding Paige are distributed.
December 9, 2009: A 51-year-old man arrested on suspicion of murder and released without charge. The Grosvenor Convenience store on Church Street, Blackpool, is searched.
December 12, 2009: A house on Sherbourne Road in North Shore is searched.
February 18, 2010: Paige’s family announce she is entitled to some inheritance from her late mother on her 18th birthday.
May 26, 2010: Detectives issue a fresh plea for information on National Missing Persons Day.
August 23, 2011: The fourth anniversary of Paige’s disappearance.
February 2012: Frank Chivers talks about his hopes Paige will get in contact as he reminisces on her 20th birthday
August 11, 2013: Frank Chivers dies without ever discovering the fate of his daughter
August 14, 2013: Police say case is very much open