Senior detective believes answer to disappearance of Ely pub landlady lies in city

15:52 02 September 2014

Police Search team at Longfields, Ely.Picture: Steve Williams.

Police Search team at Longfields, Ely.Picture: Steve Williams.


The detective chief inspector leading the investigation into the disappearance of Ely landlady Deborah Steel says he is convinced the answer to the case lies within the city.

Police Search team at Longfields, Ely.Picture: Steve Williams.Police Search team at Longfields, Ely.Picture: Steve Williams.

DCI Martin Brunning, of the Cambs, Beds and Herts Major Crime Unit, believes someone living in Ely knows what happened to Deborah, who was last seen on December 28, 1997, at about 1am.

The 37-year-old was the landlady of the Royal Standard pub, in Fore Hill, at the time and DCI Brunning says that would have put her at the heart of the community.

He said: “There are a very unusual set of circumstances around the case because Deborah, as the landlady of a pub, would have been a very central figure in the community.

“She would have been well known and she would have put her in contact with a lot of people. I am convinced someone living in Ely today, or who lived in Ely at the time, has the answers.

Police Search team at Longfields, Ely.Picture: Steve Williams.Police Search team at Longfields, Ely.Picture: Steve Williams.

“If you have been spoken to by police in the past about the case, please don’t be put off from coming forward again because your small piece of information might make the difference.”

DCI Brunning said he had picked up Deborah’s case file as part of a review of unsolved cases and added that his team began working on “new lines of enquiry” as a result.

The new investigation, he said, had led to the arrest of a 70-year-old man in Ely on Tuesday, with officers carrying out a search at a property in Longfields.

The inspector would not be drawn on whether any evidence of Deborah’s whereabouts had been brought to light.

DCI Martin BrunningDCI Martin Brunning

But DCI Brunning did add that officers had been in contact with Deborah’s family regarding recent developments.

He said: “One of the most important factors in this inquiry is that Deborah has not been seen for 17 years and that causes a great deal of anxiety and stress for anyone who knows her – including her family.”

If you have information about the case, you can contact DCI Brunning on 101 or Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555 111.

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