New map offers fresh hope to Armstrong family

July 28, 2009

New information passed to experts searching for the body of missing Crossmaglen man, Charles Armstrong, is being described as a major breakthrough in the case and has given fresh hope to his family.

A map indicating a previously unsearched area of in Co Monaghan was sent anonymously to the Independent Commission for the Location of Victims’ Remains.  This new location is very close to where previous investigations have been carried out in the search for Mr Armstrong who disappeared in August 1981 on his way to Mass.

A spokesman for the Commission described the information as ‘potentially significant’ and said it was taking it very seriously.

“This potentially could be the breakthrough we’ve been desperately hoping for in our search for the remains of Charlie Armstrong,” the spokesman said.  “It’s clear that there is someone out there who has significant information on where Charlie Armstrong is buried and wants to bring closure to the family who have suffered so much over the last 28 years.”

This is the third map which has been received on the case and investigators want the person who sent it to contact them in confidence either directly or indirectly.

The Commission representative added: “We have always believed that he is buried in a bogland area in Colgah, County Monaghan but, unfortunately, searches including one undertaken by the Commission last summer, have been unsuccessful.

“This new information is potentially significant. It is crucially important that we speak to the person who has sent the map.  We believe we could be close to finding Charlie Armstrong’s remains and a conversation with the person who sent this map, could provide that vital, final piece of information we need.”

Vital breakthrough

Mr Armstrong’s daughter, Anna McShane, said her family hopes this information would provide the vital breakthrough in the long search for her father’s remains.

“It’s difficult to keep your feelings in check because being one of the families of the disappeared is like being on an emotional roller coaster,” she said.  “On the one hand this could be the breakthrough we’ve been praying for over the years and on the other it could lead to further heartbreak.”

Mrs McShane said the family is deeply appreciative of receiving this new information and appealed to the person who sent it to get in touch again.

“We are delighted to have got this information but it is crucial that the experts have as much detail as possible to carry out a search,” she said.  “Every wee scrap of detail is important.  It can make the difference between success and failure.  This new information is definitely very significant but if we could talk to this person who sent the map, they may be able to answer questions which would make all the difference to how the search is conducted.”

Mrs McShane explained that initial investigations followed by detailed scientific examinations of the area are very time consuming and could take months before a sod is turned, but if the information is fine-tuned, this timescale could be significantly reduced.

“There is obviously someone out there who wants to help us and for that we are deeply grateful,” she said.  “I am appealing to that person to contact us again.  I am happy to talk to them or meet them anywhere and I don’t want to know who they are, just if they could provide the answers to a couple of simple questions, it would give the experts a sense of direction and would quicken up the whole process.”

Keen to remove any fear of repercussion that may exist, she added, “None of this can ever be traced back to any source because of the amnesty that is in place and it doesn’t have to be the Commission they contact. They could come to me or contact a priest or anyone else and be assured that there will never be any comeback on them.

“I would appeal, from the bottom of my heart and on behalf of my mother Kathleen, for the person who sent the map to get in touch again,” she said.  “All we want is to bring daddy home for the last time, give him a Christian burial and let us have a grave to visit and grieve.”

Initial tests and examination of the site have already begun and, in the absence of more precise information, are expected to continue for some considerable time.

Meanwhile, the Armstrong family clings to the hope that they may be nearing the end of their long search for Charlie.

The Disappeared confidential telephone number is 00800-55585500.