The Northern Scot's Arlene Fraser and Nat Fraser files: 2003 – Mystery of the empty house
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This story appeared in the Northern Scot, January 31, 2003.
A LOVING mum of two goes missing without a word to her family or a note left for her children from whom she has rarely been parted.
She takes nothing with her: no personal belongings, no money, her glasses or even her daily medication.
There was washing still in the machine, the vacuum cleaner was still plugged in, clothes were lying over the side of the bath and the top was off her make-up bottle.
There was nothing to suggest anything criminal had occurred there.
Her parents and sister, knowing she has been under a great deal of stress, plead with her to get in touch, just so they know she is alive and well.
As the days and weeks passed with no word from Arlene Fraser and extensive police inquiries drew a blank, there was only one person who gave the appearance he thought she was alive – her estranged husband Nat Fraser, who was on bail charged with her attempted murder.
He faced the Press for the first time in June 1998, when he made an emotional plea to the TV cameras: "Arlene, if you are watching this, please get in touch to let us know that you are safe and well – the children are missing you terribly.
"If you don't want to come just now, please get in touch and tell us you are all right."
Answering questions from reporters in a quiet voice and under obvious strain, Fraser said he had no idea what had happened to his wife.
He told how he had seen his wife the week before her disappearance when they had talked about their two children, Jamie (then aged 10) and five-year-old Natalie.
"The children are bearing up well on the outside – but inside, who knows? Our lives have been devastated," he went on.
''It is terribly hard to carry on. Everyone in the family is under pressure. One lives in hope every day."
The Press conference, held at Elgin Police Station, also saw a reward of £20,000 put up – half by Fraser and the remainder by Arlene's family for information leading to her whereabouts if alive, or if she had been the victim of a criminal act, information leading to the conviction of those responsible.
Despite having an alibi, police were sure Fraser knew more about his wife's disappearance than he was letting on.
In a TV programme on the mystery of Arlene's disappearance, broadcast a few months later, her mum, Mrs Isobel Thompson said she didn't know what had happened to her daughter; sister Carol Giles said she felt Arlene was dead; Detective Chief Inspector Peter Simpson said it was his opinion she was dead; and best friend Michelle Scott told the interviewer she didn't think she would ever see the mother of two again.
But still Fraser maintained he was living in hope that she was alive and would one day turn up.
Even then, few people who watched his callous charade could have imagined the full horror of the secret he was shielding.