WHERE IS THE MISSING AUTHOR?
Helen Bailey vanished with her dog one month ago, with no sightings or any other evidence since about what has become of her
IT IS a real-life mystery that reads like something out of an Agatha Christie novel. Just over one month ago, at 2.45pm on Monday, April 11, successful 51-year-old children’s author Helen Bailey left her £1.2million home in Royston, Hertfordshire, with her beloved miniature dachshund Boris.
Bailey had earlier said that she had “needed some time to herself ”. That same afternoon a woman matching her description was seen walking her dog in Royston. The following morning, a truck driver claimed to have seen a woman, again matching Bailey’s description, walking down a country road about 10 miles away but that there was no dog with her. He told the police that the woman looked “bedraggled”. Since then there have been no more sightings.
Yesterday the police renewed their appeal for members of the public to help them in their search for the missing writer. Chief Inspector Julie Wheatley of North Hertfordshire Police, said: “This is a highly unusual case in the fact that Helen seems to have simply disappeared. We literally have no trace of her despite extensive searches and inquiries which have been ongoing since she was reported missing.”
If the author is lying low then where can she be? And why has she made no attempt to contact family and friends – an omission which the police have said would be totally out of character? Her bank accounts have not been accessed and her mobile phone is switched off. Her last social media activity was on April 9.
A possible explanation for the mystery could lie in a tragic event which occurred five years ago in the Caribbean. Bailey and her husband John had been together for more than 20 years. They went on holiday to Barbados but her husband never returned. He went out for a swim and was drowned as Helen watched helplessly from the shore. Helen was shattered and to help others like her overcome devastating loss, she started a blog entitled Planet Grief.
SHE wrote: “At the age of 46 I crash-landed on Planet Grief a place where nothing felt familiar. There were days when I prayed to die, times when I couldn’t bear to live.” She also spoke of her desire to escape. “I was going to leave, put my keys through the letterbox and run away. My husband had disappeared and so would I. I could reinvent myself as a tragic figure and sit alone in a bar.”
Her blog gained a worldwide following and last year was published in book form, called When Bad Things Happen In Good Bikinis – a reference to what Helen was wearing when she watched her husband die.
The author still felt the loss of her husband but having appeared to have got over the worst of it, why would she choose to disappear LOVES: Husband John with dog Boris, left, and with new partner Ian five years after the event? She had built a new relationship with Ian Stewart, to whom she referred as “Gorgeous GreyHaired Widower” in her writing.
Like Helen, Ian had also suffered the shock of a sudden bereavement after his wife collapsed and died in their garden. Two years ago Helen moved from London and bought a house with Stewart in Royston. Although she had voiced her regret about leaving London, her last tweet, posted two days before she disappeared, was an upbeat one. “Having had gammon, eggs and chips for lunch this week, I can recommend both pub and food!” she wrote of a local gastro pub.
A journalist who interviewed Helen last November said the author “seemed to be happy. The ordeal of losing her husband still affected her but she said she had moved on, had a new partner and was helping other people to get through their grief. She was coming to an end of a journey and didn’t sound depressed.”
Yesterday Ian Stewart made a passionate appeal for his partner to re-establish contact.
“Helen, wherever you might be I hope you hear this message and listen carefully. We miss you and Boris so much. Your Mum, Dad, John, Tracey, the lads and me plus so many others all need you… We promised each other 30 years – please keep that promise and come home. Whatever has happened, wherever you are I will come and get you and Boris and give you whatever you need,” he said.
If Helen did indeed voluntarily disappear then the parallels with Agatha Christie could be even more apt. In December 1926 the best-selling crime novelist made front-page news when she seemingly vanished into thin air.
Eleven days later she was found in a hotel in Harrogate in Yorkshire, where she had booked in under the name of Mrs Teresa Neele. In his book, Agatha Christie And The Eleven Missing Days, Jared Cade put forward the theory that Christie had vanished to get her own back at her husband Archie, who had asked her for a divorce and had told her he was in love with another woman called Nancy Neele.
Her friends and loved ones will be hoping that after the latest appeal Helen returns home safely and that the story has a happy ending. However, the longer the wait goes on the more the concerns for her welfare will grow.