MISSING MUM SEARCH
Family appeals for leads and holds out hope for missing Katherine Ackling-Bryen
THE three months since Oxley Park mum Katherine Ackling-Bryen disappeared have been the toughest in the life of her husband.
Michael Bryen still holds out hope his wife will be found or come home but the months have been so tough that he feels “numb”.
Ms Ackling-Bryen, 37, vanished on February 19 – a seemingly normal day.
Just before 9am she walked from her home on the northern side of the Great Western Highway, near the St Marys and Oxley Park border, to take her two daughters – Emma, 6, and Caitlin, 9 – to Oxley Park Public School.
She returned to the school at 10.30am to drop off items for one of her daughters. Almost an hour later a security camera captured her shopping at Target at St Marys Village shopping centre in Charles Hackett Drive.
Police believe she returned home and dropped off her purchases, but what happened after that is a mystery.
“It’s increasingly difficult ... there hasn’t been any leads at all and that’s a bitter pill to swallow,’’ Mr Bryen said. “You just can’t imagine yourself ever being in this situation.”
He credits a strong family and friend network, as well as a flexible and understanding workplace, for holding him and the family together.
“Some days are better than others but I wouldn’t exactly call those days good, either,’’ Mr Bryen said. “To be honest, I’m quite numb to it, it’s very grinding and taxing.”
Mr Bryen and Ms AcklingBryen’s mother, Sue, are calling for information from people who were in the area on that day. They hope someone might have seen Ms Ackling-Bryen walking somewhere, or asking for a ride.
She left the house locked and only took her keys.
“I’m her mother, so I’m biased,” said Sue, who wanted her surname withheld. “She is just a lovely and loving young woman.
“She loves her family – every time we spoke she said, ‘I love you’ and we said, ‘I love you’ to her ... every single time.”
She said the pain of not knowing what had happened to her daughter was gnawing at her.
“We just wake up every morning hoping this is the day she’s going to be found,” Sue said. “There is just a huge hole left in our family where she should be.
“There is just the anguish of not knowing. It’s just unbearable.”
Already Ms AcklingBryen’s young family have had to struggle through milestones without her there to enjoy them.
Both daughters have celebrated their birthdays since she disappeared and Mother’s Day was a particularly painful event this year.
“That was a hard one,” Mr Bryen said. “The girls had stalls at school where they buy things for Mum.
“We wrapped the things up and then on the afternoon of Mother’s Day we unwrapped them – that was quite emotional.”
He said his wife’s disappearance was hardest on youngest daughter, Emma.
“She misses the most basic things, like cuddles from Mum,’’ he said. “You can get them from Dad but they’re not the same.”
And what if Ms AcklingBryen comes home?
“We’ll be here,’’ Mr Bryen said.
It’s increasingly difficult ... there hasn’t been any leads at all and that’s a bitter pill to swallow Michael Bryen
Katherine Ackling-Bryen (top) has been missing since February 19 and (bottom) CCTV footage of her at St Marys shopping centre on the day of her disappearance.