Scottish woman who vanished more than half a century ago was murdered
Scottish mother-of-three who vanished aged 35 more than half a century ago was murdered, say cops
The disappearance of a Scots mother who hasn’t been seen for more than half a century is being treated as murder, police have confirmed.
Isabella Skelton, originally from Glasgow, was last seen in the Crumpsall area of Manchester on June 5, 1969. She had moved south with her family in the 1960s before her disappearance aged 35.
Greater Manchester Police (GMP) has now confirmed the case is classed as a murder inquiry and appealed for any new information – stating such cases are ‘never closed’ despite the passage of 54 years since mother-of-three Ms Skelton was last seen.
Revealing the family’s anguish at the unanswered questions over Ms Skelton’s disappearance, her daughter, Lynda Chapman, 69, said: ‘When I was told she was missing I always assumed she had gone home to Scotland.
‘I fear mum may have died by now but I’ve got to keep hope. Even if she has now died, I still need to know what happened to her.’
Isabella Skelton (pictured left around the time when she disappeared and centre/right ‘aged’), originally from Glasgow , was last seen in the Crumpsall area of Manchester on June 5, 1969. She had moved south with her family in the 1960s before her disappearance aged 35
Revealing the family’s anguish at the unanswered questions over Ms Skelton’s disappearance, her daughter, Lynda Chapman (pictured), 69, said: ‘When I was told she was missing I always assumed she had gone home to Scotland’
Ms Skelton was born in Glasgow on January 21, 1934, and is understood to have attended Anderston Cross School before marrying Lewis Skelton in 1952.
The couple lived on Carnoustie Street, in the city’s Tradeston, before relocating to Greater Manchester in the 1960s, first living in Salford then moving to Crumpsall.
They had three children, Lynda, Richard and Stephen.
Ms Skelton worked for Atlas Express, based in Salford, and at Gallagher Cigarettes. She was working at Ball Bearings Services at the time of her disappearance.
Ms Chapman was 14 when her mother vanished and said her father never spoke about it. She and her father have been estranged for ten years.
While the family tried various means to trace Ms Skelton over the decades, including drawing on the services of a genealogist, it wasn’t until 2019 that Ms Chapman realised her mother was never formally recorded as an official missing person.
Greater Manchester Police became involved, and the force later released an age-progressed image of what she would look like today.
Ms Skelton (pictured with her daughter) worked for Atlas Express, based in Salford, and at Gallagher Cigarettes. She was working at Ball Bearings Services at the time of her disappearance
In 2021, detectives carried out an three-month forensic search and excavation of her last known address. No human remains or conclusive evidence were uncovered and the police stated that they would continue to explore ‘every potential line of inquiry’.
Ms Chapman said: ‘There is no sign of her drawing her pension, she has not seen a doctor, nobody has seen sight or sound of her since 1969. I can’t see her not contacting us. But I can understand her wanting to go. I can understand her saying she’s had enough and leaving.
‘If she found a new life I can accept that. She didn’t really have a life of her own. She worked and took care of everybody else.
‘I would like to think she’s gone on and had a better life. I just hope she doesn’t think we didn’t want to look because that’s not the case.
‘I just need to keep hope that somebody somewhere will finally have some information. I just want to know, one way or another.’
She and her brothers still believe their mother could have returned to Scotland, where the family had links to Glasgow’s Castlemilk and Drumchapel areas as well as Barrhead, Hamilton and Paisley.
Police said in 2020 that they believed Ms Skelton may still have been alive. However, it has now been confirmed that her disappearance has been classed as a murder investigation
It’s understood that a man was interviewed in connection with Ms Skelton’s disappearance.
However, no charges have ever been brought and police have appealed for information, stating previously that they are keeping an ‘open mind’ in relation to the inquiry.
Police said in 2020 that they believed Ms Skelton may still have been alive. However, it has now been confirmed that her disappearance has been classed as a murder investigation.
Former GMP detective chief superintendent Martin Bottomley, who is helping the force’s Cold Case Unit, said: ‘This case was recorded as murder and investigated as such. Such cases are never closed and we would be grateful for any new lines of inquiry or information.’
Joan Grant, from Scottish charity Missing Persons UK and Beyond, said: ‘People don’t just vanish into thin air. Someone must have seen Isabella that day or night, and someone knows where Isabella went or what happened to her.’
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