The Northern Scot's Arlene Fraser and Nat Fraser files: 2003 – Arlene family's final tribute
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This story appeared in the Northern Scot, February 7, 2003.
THE family of murdered Elgin mum Arlene Fraser are planning an emotional farewell to her with a memorial service in the town.
Arlene's husband Nat was jailed for life last week at the High Court in Edinburgh for arranging her "cold-blooded" killing and ordered to serve a minimum of 25 years by a judge who described him as "evil".
With the traumatic court case now behind them and Fraser locked away, the family revealed this week that they want to say a proper goodbye to Arlene.
Her mum, Isabelle, hopes to have a memorial service in Elgin on Sunday, April 27, to coincide with the fifth anniversary of her daughter's disappearance.
Arlene's body has never been found and the police have pleaded with Fraser to come clean and tell them where her final resting place is.
Despite being unable to give her a Christian burial, the family want to offer family and friends of the 33-year-old mother of two the opportunity to remember her life.
"I hope all her friends anyone else who wants to come along will be there," said Mrs Thompson (58), speaking from her home in Hamilton.
"Arlene was popular and had a wide circle of friends. I sat in the court and saw a lot of her friends there supporting her and many being witnesses," she added.
"Nobody really knew her down here. She had all her friends up in Elgin and that is the most sensible place to have a service," she added.
Arlene's family have marked every anniversary following her disappearance on Tuesday, April 28, 1998, with a private gathering in Elgin, however, Mrs Thompson said the ongoing police investigation and subsequent court action meant the time had not been right until now to give her daughter a more formal send-off.
Arlene's sister, Mrs Carol Gillies (40), said: "We are ready now to lay Arlene to rest. We don't have a grave stone, just old photographs of her and this would be something to mark her life."
"A lot of Arlene's friends were at the trial and we could see how upset they were. This would be a way for anybody to pay their respects."
"She was born in Elgin and died in Elgin,"" she added, ""and we feel the time is right now to do something for her. I want to remember Arlene as a person, not a charred body."
"We are grateful to all the people who have supported us and the friends who were witnesses. We could not have got through this with out them. "We have had a lot of cards and flowers and it helps to know that even after almost five years people have not got fed up. I had this worry that people would forget Arlene, but they have stood by us."
Mrs Thompson said she had been overwhelmed by the messages of support from members of the public, many of them complete strangers to the family.
She said that while many people doubted for years whether Arlene was dead – even right up to the start of the trial in Edinburgh – and believed she had simply run off, she said there could be no doubts after the evidence which emerged.
The court heard how Fraser hired a hitman to strangle his wife at the family home, 2 Smith Street, New Elgin, and then burned and disposed of the body himself close to the town.
Mosstowie farmer Hector Dick, a former co-accused in the murder plot, turned against Fraser when he gave Queen's evidence six days into the trial, in return for all charges against him being dropped.
He claimed Fraser confessed to him weeks after Arlene's disappearance that he had paid someone to kill her.
Dick admitted burning and crushing a Ford Fiesta car which he bought for Fraser the night before Arlene went missing and which he suspected had been involved in the mother of two's disappearance.
Mrs Thompson admitted the stress of the court case, in which both she and her daughter were witnesses, had taken its toll on her family.
"For the first few days afterwards we were completely exhausted and I didn't think the stress could have taken so much out of us," she said.
"There is still a feeling that somebody is going to phone us and say it has all been a big mistake."
Mrs Gillies admitted it had been hard trying to get back to something approaching a normal life.
"One minute you are walking down the street with 20 cameras on you and the next you are in the supermarket trying to do normal things. It almost feels as if I have been running two lives," she said.
"I feel a sense of achievement that we have got through the trial because every time it was postponed it weakened us."
The one thing that remains for Mrs Gillies is to hear Nat Fraser admit his guilt, however, with him appealing against his conviction and sentence, she accepted that may be an unrealistic hope.
"By maintaining his innocence, Nat is continuing the cruelty. His mother, his father, his sister and his girlfriend have all stood by him and he owes it to them to tell the truth," she said.