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