by Ciaran Jones
The heartbroken sister of missing Manic Street Preachers star Richey Edwards has admitted she fears going to her grave without ever finding him.
In an emotional interview almost 20 years after her brother disappeared, devastated Rachel Elias said the pain the family felt had only increased over time.
But she said while she now realised she may "never know" what happened to her brother, she would never give up her quest to track him down.
Manics guitarist Richey went missing from his London hotel on February 1, 1995, hours before the Blackwood band were due to fly to the US on a promotional tour.
When his Vauxhall Cavalier car was found abandoned near the Severn Bridge a fortnight later, many assumed he had taken his own life.
His body was never found but he was legally presumed dead in 2008.
Rachel, a family representative for charity Missing People, said: "It will be 17 years on Wednesday and, like a lot of other families, I feel - and I know other families do - that it doesn't get easier. In fact, it becomes harder.
"Anniversaries, birthdays and funerals are missed times over and it just gets longer.
"You have to come to the realisation that you might never know.
"In the early stages you always think perhaps there might be an outcome but over time your shoulders drop and maybe you've got to learn to live with the uncertainty forever, which is really difficult."
Rachel - who still lives in Blackwood, Caerphilly, where she and her brother grew up together - has now been searching for him for almost two decades.
"At the beginning you have things to do. Eventually you think you run out of ways to look for them."
She added: "You do feel like [you have run out of ways to search] but until he's found you can't ever give up. It's just not part of our make-up, really."
The 42-year-old said she had not yet decided how she would mark Wednesday's anniversary, but said the incessant pain of not knowing her brother's fate made the day like any other.
"I haven't thought about that, I just take every day as it comes. When someone is a missing person they are constantly on your mind - they constantly hang over your thoughts, every single day.
"With a normal bereavement, as time goes on it gets easier and you generally accept the death better. But when a person is missing and you don't know where they are it is constantly with you."
Rachel said it was essential for families of missing persons to provide investigators with a sample of their loved one's DNA to ensure it could be cross-matched against a nationwide register of unidentified bodies.
The register currently numbers around 1,000 people, with some bodies and body parts dating back as far as the 1950s.
"It's really vital to make sure their DNA is taken to be put on there and searched," she said.
"On average 10 people a month are coming through on to the database."
Rachel also highlighted Missing People's Join the Search campaign, which maps cases of people in the UK who have disappeared and allows users to share information through social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter.
The site shows there are currently 19 people registered as missing in Wales - including Richey, who was 27 when he disappeared.
Rachel also said she was hopeful the UK Government would back her call for a Presumption of Death Act to allow people to be legally presumed dead seven years after their disappearance and streamline the legal process for the families of missing persons.
Rachel gave evidence to the UK's first parliamentary inquiry into missing people last June and said she hoped to hear more on the possibility of new laws "shortly".
For more information and support, visit www.missingpeople.co.uk
[Originally published: walesonline.co.uk, 29 January 2012]