Mys­tery of miss­ing nurse still un­solved 50 years later Po­lice file re­mains open on Mid­land teen who van­ished with­out a trace

Birmingham Post - - NEWS - Mike Lock­ley Fea­tures Staff

FIFTY years ago, teenage nurse Maria Aldridge sim­ply van­ished from the face of the earth.

There re­mains only one clue to what hap­pened to the 17-year-old – a mys­te­ri­ous mes­sage in the clas­si­fied ad sec­tion of the Post’s sis­ter sis­ter pa­per, the Birm­ing­ham Mail.

It read: “NURSE M – Meet 7pm. 63 bus, Mon­day, June 3rd. Hope to see you, Si­mon.”

De­tec­tives and dis­traught fam­ily mem­bers be­lieved “Nurse M” was Maria, who went miss­ing while train­ing at Birm­ing­ham’s Dud­ley Road Hos­pi­tal, later re­named City Hos­pi­tal. She was last seen on May 1, 1968.

The puz­zle of what hap­pened to the Stour­port-raised woman has never been solved. And that’s de­spite West Mid- lands Po­lice reg­u­larly re­vis­it­ing the case and is­su­ing im­ages of what they be­lieve she would look like to­day.

There is one fur­ther twist to the strange case.

The alarm over Maria’s dis­ap­pear­ance was raised by an in­di­vid­ual called Paul Gough, who trav­elled to Stour­port to in­form her mum, Mary O’Sul­li­van, that she was miss­ing.

Mr Gough also dis­ap­peared from the face of the earth. He has never been traced by po­lice.

Fol­low­ing the bomb­shell, Mary and Maria’s younger sis­ter, Cathy, im­me­di­ately trav- elled to Dud­ley Road Hospi- tal’s dor­mi­tory.

They were told she was no longer there – and were handed her be­long­ings.

Maria was even linked to Fred and Rose West’s grisly mur­der spree: Fred was known to have worked in Birm­ing­ham in the 1960s.

Fol­low­ing a call from Mary, of­fi­cers checked the grisly re­mains dis­cov­ered at the West’s house of hor­rors.

Maria vic­tims.

Mum Mary died in 2005, aged 93, but Cathy, now liv­ing in Canada, has never given up hope.

In 2014, she again at­tempted to jog mem­o­ries.

In a state­ment to the me­dia, she said: “I need to con­nect with peo­ple in the Mid­lands. I hope they can help me to find Maria.

“I have had a won­der­ful life, but there has al­ways been part of me miss­ing,” said the now 65-year-old.

“I will never give up look­ing for Maria.

“I need to con­nect with peo­ple in Birm­ing­ham and I hope they can share her in­for­ma­tion so that I can find the man who came to my house and told us Maria was not at the hos­pi­tal.

“He had come to see if she was at the fam­ily home. She was not among the wasn’t. She was con­sid­ered a ru­n­away and it was ex­pected she’d show up. “We are still wait­ing. “Po­lice did find a Mr Gough, but, un­for­tu­nately, this was not the cor­rect Mr Gough that no­ti­fied my mum and us of her dis­ap­pear­ance.”

It was one of a num­ber of dud leads. In the 1990s, po­lice linked the dis­cov­ery of a head­less body to the Maria Aldridge case, but the vic­tim was not the stu­dent nurse.

Dur­ing their 1968 in­ves­ti­ga­tion, of­fi­cers un­cov­ered a let­ter from Maria to her mother, penned in Fe­bru­ary 28, 1968. It is be­lieved to be the last one she wrote. In the note, she re­ferred to nights out in Birm­ing­ham, in­clud­ing a visit to the Lo­carno night­club.

She also men­tioned friends and fel­low stu­dent nurses. They were in­ter­viewed, but none had in­for­ma­tion that could help lo­cate Maria. Un­til a body is found, there re­mains hope she is still out there – some­where. The pleas for her to make con­tact con­tinue – and two grainy im­ages of her re­main on the “Miss­ing Peo­ple” web­site.

But hope is fad­ing for sis­ter Cathy. Last year, she told BBC West Mid­lands: “I think some­one killed her. I hope some­body killed her. I wouldn’t like to think she was be­ing kept hostage.

“There is al­ways that chance. Peo­ple do turn up 40 or 50 years later.”

A West Mid­lands Po­lice spokesper­son said: “Our miss­ing per­son file on Maria Aldridge re­mains open and we would wel­come any in­for­ma­tion on her where­abouts.

“Any­one with in­for­ma­tion should con­tact the force on 101 or char­ity Miss­ing Peo­ple on 11600.”

> Maria Aldridge, aged nine, and in­set the mys­te­ri­ous mes­sage in the

> Maria as she may have looked at the age of 17 (left) and 59

> Sis­ter Cathy Phillips

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