Family's 20 Years Of Missing Manic Street Preacher Richey Edwards

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by Nathan Briant

Tomorrow marks the 20th anniversary since Manic Street Preachers songwriter and guitarist Richey Edwards disappeared.

What happened to the Blackwood rock star - last seen at a London hotel on February 1 1995, on the eve of a promotional trip to the USA - has become one of popular music's most enduring mysteries, the date a time for fans to remember and celebrate his life.

But his sister Rachel Elias told the Argus she and her family still go through a daily trauma not knowing what happened to him.

"Obviously the press has shown an added interest, it being 20 years, but to be honest I experience the same thing every day, not just on February 1. It is trying to get used to the loss," she said.

"When I look back and think it's 20 years, it's quite astonishing."

Mr Edwards, whose battle against a range of health problems had been well publicised during much of the preceding year, was last seen at the Embassy Hotel in Bayswater, London.

The band was navigating a course through the critical acclaim and success of third album The Holy Bible, released in summer 1994, a challenging and less musically mainstream record, dominated by Mr Edwards' coruscating lyrics that took an unflinching look at subjects such as body image, eating disorders, power, and humankind's capacity for evil.

Mrs Elias learned of her brother's disappearance when her mother was called by the band's manager Martin Hall and told that bandmate James Dean Bradfield had knocked on Mr Edwards' hotel door but received no answer and the room was found to be empty.

Mr Edwards' car was later found parked near the Severn Bridge. His passport was at his home in Cardiff.

"Initially I had mixed emotions but I did think that was completely out of character," said Mrs Elias.

"It was a scheduled flight and he didn't have strops and not fulfil his responsibilities. (Before he went missing) he was in contact with mum and dad. If he was at home he would visit every day. As time went on it was even more out of character.

"But also I think that whatever reason he went for, it could not have been a whimsical decision."

Mrs Elias said the search for her brother, who suffered with depression, was made more difficult by some attitudes displayed by the police.

"I was frustrated. He was classed as a vulnerable adult. That box was ticked, but to me that wasn't reflected in the way they searched for him," she said.

"We had police officers who said to us that he had a right to go missing. But I think there are better systems in place now."

She was angered that it took the police more than a year (April 1996) to put her brother on their missing people register, and said the search was made more difficult by people claiming to have seen him, whether they were genuine or malicious.

"There were a lot of people who hampered the police, saying it was a publicity stunt. There were quite a few," she said.

Mr Edwards was declared presumed dead in November 2008. His father Graham became ill and eventually died, but did not want to leave his daughter and wife Sherry sorting out his son's affairs alone.

Despite claims to the contrary, Mrs Elias insists Mr Edwards' finances were accounted for before he disappeared.

She said a rumour about him withdrawing £200 a day before he disappeared, gained traction even though it is false.

Mrs Elias is a volunteer for the Missing People charity that raises awareness of disappearances. Along with other volunteers she recorded a song to raise funds.

I Miss You was written by Peter Boxell, whose son Lee has been missing since 1988.

For more information, visit www.missingpeople.org.uk/imissyou

[Originally published: South Wales Argus, 31 January 2015]

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