Fiancé arrested in hunt for missing woman

Jonathan Brown
Saturday 19 February 2005 01:00 GMT

The fiancé of a woman who went missing on Valentine's Day was arrested last night on suspicion of murder.

Joanne Nelson, 22, has not been seen since the early morning of 14 February, when she exchanged Valentine's cards with Paul Dyson, 30. Humberside Police confirmed that they had arrested a 30-year-old man.

Ms Nelson, slim, with blonde hair and blue eyes, failed to turn up for work at the JobCentre in Hull. That evening, Mr Dyson contacted the police.

Since then, her mobile phone has not been used, no money has been withdrawn from her bank account and Joanne has made no contact with her family, with whom she is close. Her Renault Clio was left unlocked outside the house she shared with Mr Dyson in Hull.

Yesterday, police divers searched a waterway, known as Barmston Drain, that runs through the city. Police helicopters equipped with thermal imaging cameras scanned wasteland and CCTV footage is being examined.

Detective Superintendent Ray Higgins, who is leading the investigation, said: "We have got no positive news. There have been no positive sightings of Joanne; no confirmed sightings whatsoever."

Mr Dyson says the couple had driven to a beauty spot near their home the day before her disappearance. Despite the wind and rain, they had a picnic and went for a walk. The following day, before leaving for work, he left a gift bag in the living room. Inside was a ring, a present she had thought too expensive, considering the cost of the wedding.

The missing woman's parents, Jean and Charlie Nelson, made an impassioned appeal for information during an emotional news conference this week. They were surprised she had not rung her sister on the Sunday to wish her a happy birthday. It was out of character, they said.

Police have sealed off the home the couple shared in Hotham Road North for forensic science tests and a computer has been taken away. Experts have also been examining the unnamed beauty spot Mr Dyson said they visited on Sunday.

The police have had extensive interviews with Mr Dyson, whom her family say she was besotted with, and had been looking forward to marrying. On Wednesday, he broke down in tears as he described his fiancée to television cameras.

Clutching a picture of Ms Nelson he said: "I love her to bits. I just want her back. She was always smiling. She has not got a bad bone in her body. I just want to know where she is."

He described their last moments together. "I got up early on Valentine's Day. We swapped cards. I gave her a kiss and a cuddle. I pulled the cover over her so she could get her head down for another hour or so.

"I kissed her goodbye and went to work. That was it until I got home from work and she was not here. I had a quick phone around. If she disappears to her friends or anywhere she lets me know."

Her parents have released photographs of their "happy-go-lucky" daughter in an effort to gather more information from the public. Mrs Nelson urged her to get in contact.

"Joanne is a loving girl," she said. "She is kind, considerate and popular, still friends with people she has known since school.

"Everyone she has ever known has only positive things to say about her. She is very close to all of her family and she wouldn't do anything to upset us. If anyone knows where she is, please tell her we love her so much and want her back."

Det Supt Higgins said: "She could have been abducted, left home voluntarily or been killed and her body hidden."

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