THE 11-YEAR-OLD sister of missing Chris Nelson – who vanished in Amsterdam two weeks ago – sent a text last night to her parents, searching the Dutch city: “Just bring him home mummy and daddy.” Chris, from Eskbank, vanished in the Dutch capital on Sunday, November 15, and has not been heard from since.
The family had their hopes dashed yesterday after the first possible sighting of Chris turned out to be a dead end.
How can a man as distinctive-looking as my son, with his ginger hair and beard, just vanish with the click of a finger.”Chris’ mum Donna
But Chris’s little sister spurred her parents on to continue the journey to find her brother.
Dutch police told Chris’s parents that reports of a red-haired man matching the 24-year-old’s description were “not a positive lead” yesterday afternoon – but the text, sent later on, encouraged the couple not to give up on finding Chris.
Abby, 11, sent the text to her parents, Donna and Scott, saying ‘Just bring him home mummy and daddy. I love you.’
The simple words were enough to give the couple hope to carry on as they made their second journey to Amsterdam since their son’s disappearance.
Donna, 45, said: “Chris is my world. Any mum would say the same. I can’t function without him. Chris’s wee sister sent this text to us tonight,” Donna added as she explained the devotion Abby felt for her brother.
“As a family we are just broken. Chris is such a sweetheart, such a kind soul.
“Our hopes are being dashed constantly because the police are telling us there are no positive leads. How can a man as distinctive-looking as my son, with his ginger hair and beard, just vanish with the click of a finger.”
Previously, a group of Belfast holidaymakers had spotted a red-haired man matching Chris’s description close to the Singel canal on the evening of Monday, November 16 – the day after he vanished – and less than half-a-mile from the Nieuwmarkt area of the city, where he been staying.
Initially, it was thought this report could have been a lead in the case – but yesterday, police said there was no validity in the report. The sighting – though alarming – had given the family fresh hope they could soon be reunited with Chris.
The Dutch police have now promised to track Mr Nelson’s mobile phone using the “ping” method, a strategy they had originally refused to adopt because of privacy laws in Amsterdam.
Donna, who was critical of the handling of the case, added: “British Police, who are now supporting us, have said they do this [ping method] within 48 hours of a person going missing – and in Germany they do it immediately. But Amsterdam has strict privacy laws and they won’t do it because people have a right to disappear.”
But Donna, who works as the managing CEO of a charity, challenged the legislation amid claims her son might have been suffering from mental health problems at the time he went missing.
She added: “They can’t ignore him now because there is too much pressure from the Consulate and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.”
And resuming their search in Amsterdam this week, the family experienced another setback.
The hundreds of posters they had put up across the city during their previous visit had been torn down by officials because they had not sought permission from the authorities.
But they have now agreed to print their own posters and leaflets to raise awareness of the search for missing Chris.
Meanwhile, Mr Nelson’s 22-year-old sister Rebecca is remaining in the family home in Eskbank hoping that he could somehow return to Scotland – even without the passport he left behind.
“We are desperate to find him now,” she said. “It’s been too long.”
Police spokesman Nabil Ou-Aissa said: “We have been looking for a few days but we haven’t found him and the investigation is ongoing.
“We are not sure whether he is in the water or not but we are looking everywhere.
“We have good contact with his family and there might be some flyer activity [from them today] to help find out more about what happened to him but nothing is sure at the moment.”
John Cameron Webb, the British Consul in Amsterdam, has also pledged to help “as much as he can”. Dutch police and Interpol have also been searching hospitals, police stations, homeless shelters and contacted missing person’s charities.
A spokeswoman from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office added: “A British national was reported missing in Amsterdam on November 16. We are assisting the family and are in contact with local authorities.”
Meanwhile, the family has fiercely denied any claim that Mr Nelson would have taken drugs voluntarily and that this might account for his disappearance.
The family also insisted that Mr Nelson had not been drinking either because he had been due to drive back to Kaarst bear Dusseldorf in Germany the following day.
Donna and Scott have handed out flyers and put up posters on lampposts across the city as well as visiting medical centres, homeless shelters and supermarkets in the hope of finding a clue to his whereabouts.
Mrs Nelson added: “Last time we just went to Amsterdam in a state of trauma. We didn’t really have a plan. But it’s been nearly two weeks since he went missing. We need to regroup our thoughts and be more systematic.” Police are investigating the possibility he may have left the country.