WHEN Riina Elisabeth Sjögren flew to London from her Helsinki home, her family had no reason to be alarmed and assumed it was to visit friends in the city.
After all, the bubbly teacher often travelled alone, is fluent in English and used to live and work there.
But two days later, Riina vanished from a tram stop in Edinburgh – a city she had never visited before and where she had no known friends or family.
More bizarre still, her bag containing a purse, coat and other belongings, was found at a security gate in Edinburgh Airport.
She was booked on a flight to Amsterdam but never got on it. Braving the winter chill in a cardigan, she was picked up on CCTV at a tram stop in York Place last Tuesday – and then vanished.
Since then, nothing. No phone calls to her mum and sister back in Helsinki – as was her habit while travelling – and no confirmed sightings.
Police have launched a missing person investigation but are at pains to say nothing suggests a crime has been committed. So where is Riina?
“The family know she was coming to London, she speaks very good English and travels alone regularly,” said Chief Insp Stevie Sutherland.
“But then she’s moved on up to Edinburgh and they don’t know why. Her behaviour has been slightly out of sorts over the last two weeks.”
Riina, 38, flew into London last Saturday after leaving her job in the Finnish capital teaching religious studies.
Officers were then able to piece together her movements from receipts found in her luggage at the airport.
She travelled to Edinburgh by train last Monday, arriving at Waverley before making her way to Edinburgh Airport by bus.
Riina travelled back into the city centre, stayed the night, visited The Castle, then got on the number 300 bus at the top of Easter Road to go to the airport at 4.55am the next morning.
She was booked on an Amsterdam flight but never got on it.
Instead, she walked to Gogar before boarding a tram and heading back into the city centre at 8.50pm.
Riina was captured on CCTV at the York Place tram stop at 10.20pm facing the Playhouse – and then vanished.
The alarm was raised by staff at the airport after they found Riina’s bag. Officers believe she may have a bank card with her.
Officers are now trawling city centre CCTV and going door-to-door for any trace of Riina.
“It could be very much a case of her taking a holiday break,” said CI Sutherland. “She’d finished working and she came up here for a break.”
CI Sutherland described Riina as “very much a loner” and an experienced traveller, fluent in Hebrew and Swedish, in addition to English and her native Finnish.
She regularly contacted her family and last spoke to her mum and sister by phone four days before she vanished – but then nothing.
“There were no concerns from the family at that time,” said CI Sutherland of her last phone call home.
A friend in Finland described devout Lutheran Riina as “very happy, open and heartfelt, and above all, a sensible person.”
Riina worked in London about ten years ago as a hotel receptionist but her family were “surprised” she travelled to Edinburgh.
She recently left her last job teaching religious studies, focusing on Catholicism, in Helsinki.
Police are understood to be following new leads after receiving tip-offs from the public but refused to confirm reports that their search includes approaching churches and monasteries.
CI Sutherland stressed nothing suggests anything sinister about Riina’s disappearance at this stage.
“There was some deterioration of her mental health but nothing to suggest she’s come to harm or anything criminal,” said CI Sutherland. “We’re concerned about her welfare.”
And that concern is growing, not least as Riina abandoned her coat at the airport.
Police are understood to be in regular contact with her family in Helsinki, helped by a Finnish-speaking officer in Edinburgh.
“They’re struggling, it’s very distressing,” said CI Sutherland. “It’s so out of character. She stays in touch regularly but hasn’t over the past week.
“She wasn’t herself when she went home for Christmas.”
Riina is described as white, 5ft 3ins tall, of medium build with long dark brown hair and wears glasses.
When last seen she was wearing dark trousers, and a blue cardigan with a red or pink top underneath and a black and white scarf.
Back home in Helsinki, Riina’s family are also growing increasingly concerned – mystified as to where she might be.
Riina’s younger sister, Kirsi Maria Sjögren, 30, is comforting their mother and made a desperate plea for help in finding her.
“Everybody is so afraid. We have no idea what happened to Riina,” said Kirsi. “The police came to my mother’s house last week. They said that Riina’s luggage was found at the airport but that they don’t know where she is.
“We didn’t know that she was going to Edinburgh. She just left and didn’t tell anyone where she was going. It’s completely out of character.
“Riina has never done anything like this. We have no idea why she would go to Edinburgh. The police have been very helpful but I don’t think they know what has happened to her.
“If somebody has seen Riina or heard from her, please call the police. Riina, if you see this please call mum. She is sick with worry.”
Riina’s close friend Marjo Moilanen, 38, said: “Everybody is so worried.
“We found out on Wednesday last week that she is missing. It’s a mystery.
“We don’t know anything other than what the police have said.
“We don’t know what she was doing OK and that we will find her.”
Anyone who may have seen Riina since last Tuesday can contact police via 101, quoting incident number 3748 of January 9.