Search Goes On For Missing Manic

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The last known photograph of missing rock star Richey Edwards has been published by a British magazine in a bid to solve the seven-year mystery of his disappearance.

The parents of the missing Manic Street Preachers guitarist are hoping readers of The Big Issue - and the homeless who sell it - can find their lost son.

The Edwards family from Blackwood, south Wales, can now declare Richey legally dead as he has been missing for more than seven years.

But Graham and Sherry Edwards have refused to give up the belief their son is still alive.

Missing persons

More than 250,000 copies of The Big Issue are distributed by homeless people who sell the magazine on the streets of major cities and towns across Britain.

The weekly magazine regularly publishes appeals to trace missing persons, many of whom are thought to be sleeping rough.

The 4 February edition includes the last ever photograph of Richey - a passport picture taken for a planned American tour by the band.

But the guitarist vanished before the band were due to fly out.

The appeal begins: "This February marks the 7th anniversary of the disappearance Richard Edwards, aka Richey James, former rhythm guitarist for the Manic Street Preachers.

"Richard went missing on the 1st Feb 1995, from the Embassy Hotel in London, just before he was due to fly to New York.

"Apparently a caring, sensitive and talented young man, Richard left a behind a close family who still hope he will come home one day.

"Despite spurious sightings from all over the country and abroad, there has never been any confirmed information about Richard's whereabouts."

Fresh appeal

The family hope his picture and the appeal may be spotted by homeless people or those sleeping rough who may know where Richey might be.

National Missing Person's Helpline spokeswoman Sophie Woodforde said: "We have been working very closely with Richey's parents for the last seven years.

"They are really hoping to get a positive response from this as there has been so much negative and inaccurate publicity surrounding his disappearance.

"They have lost their son and the fact that he was part of a famous pop group is irrelevant to them.

"They just want Richey back."

Troubled star

Edwards disappeared as the Manic Street Preachers were about to leave for a tour of the US.

His behaviour had become increasingly erratic as the band's fame grew.

During interviews, he admitted he was having problems handling life in the spotlight.

It is that he briefly visited his flat in Cardiff Bay on the day he disappeared, 1 February 1995.

Two weeks later, his car was found abandoned at the Severn Bridge Service station at Aust, near Bristol.

The message in the magazine described Richey as being 34 years old, 5ft 8ins tall and very thin.

He had very short brown hair when he was last seen, with dark brown eyes and a pale complexion.

Richey also has four tattoos, one of which bears the words "I'll surf this beach".

On Thursday the Edwards family issued a statement on the eve of the seventh anniversary of Richey's disappearance.

They stressed that they had no intention of declaring him dead, saying they still regarded him as missing.

Reported sightings

In March 1997 a college lecturer reported seeing him in the Indian resort of Goa.

The following year Richey's parents flew to the Canary Islands after a bar worker reported seeing him in Tenerife.

But these and other reported sightings led nowhere.

The remaining members of the Manic Street Preachers - Nicky Wire, James Dean Bradfield and Sean Moore - have gone on to achieve great commercial and critical success.

But they continue to split their earnings four ways with a quarter going into a trust for Richey in case he returns one day.

Anyone with information about Richey Edwards is asked to call the National Missing Persons Helpline 0500 700 700.

[Originally published: bbc.co.uk/news/wales, 4 February 2002]

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