Man arrested over 1975 murder mystery

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The Independent Online

The husband of a woman and their two young children who disappeared 26 years ago has been arrested on suspicion of murder.

Patricia Allen, who was 39, Jonathan, seven, and Victoria, five, were last seen at their home in the seaside town of Salcombe, Devon, in May 1975. Despite one of Britain's biggest missing persons investigations no trace of them was found.

Mrs Allen's husband, John, 67, was arrested on Monday near Poole, Dorset. He was questioned and released on police bail until January. Papers have been sent to the Crown Prosecution Service.

The disappearance of Mrs Allen and her children was reinvestigated this year by a team of detectives from Devon and Cornwall police, using the latest scientific techniques. They also reinterviewed witnesses and examined statements taken in the first inquiry.

Mr Allen, also known as Anthony Allen, did not report his wife and children missing. Four months later a local constable heard rumours and an investigation began. Mr Allen told police his wife had walked out on him, returning two evenings later to collect her clothes and the children. He said he had not reported her missing because she said she was going to America to meet an ex-boyfriend.

But Mrs Allen made no further contact with relatives or friends, did not use her bank, and did not apparently register her children for new schools in Britain or America. New clothes Mrs Allen had bought for herself and her children were left behind and she made no attempt to collect hundreds of pounds owed to her from the sale of a beauty parlour in the north of England.

Mr Allen has always denied involvement. At the time, he said he had been vigorously questioned. "I am at the end of my tether," he said. "The police have given me a hard time. I know they have a job to do, but my aim is the same as theirs: to find evidence that my wife and kids are alive and well."