A FYLDE woman who has spent the last 22 years not knowing whether her father is alive or dead is pleading for answers.
The mystery disappearance of Amanda Atkinson’s father, Henry Baines, sparked a full scale murder investigation.
Four people were arrested and a cellar at a Fleetwood home was ripped up.
But Mr Baines – known to his friends as Harry – has never been found and now Mrs Atkinson fears anyone who knows what happened to her father will take their secrets to the grave.
The mum-of-five, whose father was living in Fleetwood when he disappeared, said: “It’s awful, especially as it was Father’s Day at weekend. It never goes away. It doesn’t get any easier. It’s the not knowing if he’s alive.
“The family consensus is he’s been murdered, but I’m hoping he is alive out there somewhere. I need answers.
“If there is someone out there who knows something, I don’t want them to take it to their grave.”
Mrs Atkinson is now 38 – the same age as her father when he disappeared on February 28, 1989.
He was last seen in the Ship Inn on Warren Street.
Despite appeals at the time by the police and the National Missing Persons Charity, the father-of-two was never traced.
Then in January, 1995 police launched a murder investigation.
More than 30 police officers and forensic experts were drafted in to dig under the cellar of a terraced house, where Mr Baines lived with his girlfriend and a lodger, on Victoria Street in Fleetwood.
Police search teams and special radar equipment used in the Fred and Rose West case – where numerous bodies were found under the infamous couple’s “House of Horrors’’ in Cromwell Street, Gloucester – were drafted in to assist the investigation.
Mr Baines’ former girlfriend Sylvia Preston, was arrested along with a 51-year-old-man, of Victoria Street, and a 47-year-old woman and a man in his 40s, both of Rington Avenue in Carleton.
After all four people were released without charge, Mrs Preston began legal proceedings to sue the police for wrongful arrest but died before the case went to court.
Police have told Mr Baines’ family the disappearance of the former joiner is now classed as a ‘cold case’.
But Mrs Atkinson is now hoping to re-invigorate the inquiry and has asked for access to police files which include details of the murder investigation.
She added: “The more time has gone on and I’ve grown up, the more I feel I don’t want to let things go.
“It’s classed as a cold case so if a body is ever found in the area the police will look at the cold cases.
“I’m hoping to get access to the files and speak to the officers to get some answers.
“I was only 15 when he went missing. Someone out there must know something. My grandma Doris Baines died in December and my auntie Barbara Leadbetter died in February not knowing what happened to their son and brother. It is heartbreaking.
“If someone has got something on their conscience, maybe people have information they’re never shared with anyone before.
“He’s got to be somewhere.”
Mr Baines had strawberry blonde hair and tattoos including a red devil and Amanda’s name on his arm.
Mrs Atkinson, who has moved from Fleetwood to Caton near Lancaster, added: “I remember him being a happy-go-lucky man. He used to come for me every weekend and we’d go to the beach. He had a bike with a postman’s tray which I used to sit on and he’d take me for rides.
“My seven-year-old son is named after him. I’d love it if my dad could be a part of our lives.”
Lancashire Police say they will investigate any new information which comes to light.
A police spokesman said: “We never stop looking for people in cases like this. We would encourage anyone with information that could help bring some resolution for Mr Baines’ daughter to come forward.
“We would investigate any new lines of inquiry.”