Missing student sent 'help me' text after getting into a car

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The Independent Online

A student who has been missing since she left a New Year's Eve party sent a text message on her mobile saying "help me" after getting a lift home.

Sally Geeson, 22, who was at a party at a pub in Cambridge, wrote in one message to her flatmate: "No one waited for me I've got into a car with someone please call me x." Two minutes later she sent a message to a second friend saying: "Please help me x." Another text to the same friend read: "Hi Em, it's me, I'm lost."

The first messages were sent at 1.40am. But they took several hours to arrive because the mobile phone system was jammed with people sending New Year greetings.

Telephone records show that power was lost to her mobile at 9.44am on 1 January. Friends reported the forensic science student missing the following day. Ms Geeson's family yesterday appealed for help in tracing the young woman as fears for her safety grew.

One possibility is that the final-year student at Anglia Polytechnic University got into an unlicensed taxi. Police are investigating a possible sighting of Ms Geeson, after someone contacted them saying she had seen a distressed woman matching the student's description on 2 January on the 2.45pm train from Norwich to Sheringham in Norfolk.

Ms Geeson had gone out with about 20 friends to a pub, recently renamed The Avery but known locally as the Hog's Head, in Cambridge city centre on 31 December.

The friend who received the first text, Janet O'Dea, 22, said yesterday: "I didn't receive the text message until around nine o'clock on New Year's Day. Obviously, I was very worried when I got it. I thought she may have stopped at a friend's house for the night because we have got a lot of student friends in the area. I would also have expected her to go straight to work. She was meant to be doing a 3pm to 11pm shift at the Travelodge in Cambridge."

Ms O'Dea contacted the police after phoning the Travelodge, Ms Geeson's family in Southend and friends. She was told none of them had seen her since she left the party.

Ms O'Dea added: "It's very out of character for her to get into a stranger's car. Maybe she got in a car thinking it was a taxi. She's very bubbly and giggly, always up for a laugh. She's got too much energy and always very kind. I don't have a bad word to say about her."

The second text message, pleading for help, was sent to another friend, Andy Webber, 24. But he also did not receive the message immediately. He said: "I didn't get the text until the next morning and I didn't think much of it until Janet rang saying she hadn't come home. I thought she was a bit drunk and had got a bit lost because as there was an "x" on the message it didn't seem that urgent. I'm becoming more and more worried as time goes by. It's not like she normally stays out when she goes out for an evening. She always rings people and never runs off."

Mr Webber was sent a third text but he deleted it thinking it was a mistake.

Gemma Morris, 20, who lives with Ms Geeson, added: "She was fine and giggling away and when I said goodbye she said, 'All right honey, I'll see you later.' It had been a typical New Year's Eve."

Detective Superintendent Garry Swain of Cambridgeshire Police said yesterday that the police were keeping an open mind about the messages but admitted they were of great concern. "Sally may have been picked up in a car by someone she knew or she may have got into a taxi," he said. I would appeal for anyone who gave Sally a lift that night to contact us."

Ms Geeson is described as white, 5ft 2ins of slim build with curly ginger hair. She was wearing glasses, a brown dress and brown high-heeled shoes, and was carrying a denim bag with a brown strap.