Murder probe is launched, 5 years after dad last seen in Holloway Road disappeared
Police search park pond and Archway property after receiving ‘highly significant information’
18 May, 2018 — By William McLennan
Police divers at Waterlow Park this week – detectives now believe that Mr Duff was attacked and killed at a nearby property
MURDER detectives have launched an investigation into the disappearance of a father-of-two who has not been seen for five years after his family’s tireless search for answers led to a breakthrough.
Robert Duff was last seen in Holloway Road on January 12, 2013.
Police had been treating his disappearance as a missing persons inquiry, but they now believe he was murdered after receiving “highly significant information” from a witness.
The tip-off came in response to one of dozens of pleas for help made by Mr Duff’s family over the past five years.
As the Met piled additional resources into the case on Tuesday, forensic teams carried out a fingertip search of a property in Bredgar Road, Archway, while police divers searched a pond in nearby Waterlow Park, Highgate.
The disappearance of Robert Duff, who was last seen on January 12, 2012, in Holloway Road was treated as a missing persons inquiry
Mr Duff has not been heard from since he left an accidental voicemail message on his daughter’s phone. The family raised the alarm the following day when Mr Duff failed to turn up for his daughter Stephanie’s 18th birthday party.
In January, Ms Duff told the Tribune that the family feared the worst and appealed to police to open a murder investigation.
Speaking from Waterlow Park, as the Met’s underwater search team trawled the pond, Detective Chief Inspector Luke Marks, who is leading the investigation, said it is now believed that Mr Duff was attacked and killed at a nearby property, before his body was disposed of.
DCI Marks said that divers had been deployed to the park, which is close to where Mr Duff was last seen, as “part of the ongoing investigation to try and locate Robert’s remains”.
He defended the decision not to launch an earlier murder probe and said that there was “no clear or credible evidence to say that he had actually died” until the latest witness came forward in response to a media appeal.
Stephanie Duff, who has spent the past five years placing missing posters on lampposts and shop windows in Archway, said: “We were persistent, because we always knew there was something more to be found out.”
Mr Duff, who was 37 when he died, lived in Tufnell Park in his youth, trained as a metal engineer and performed in bars and clubs under the name DJ Flight. He was living in Kilburn at the time of his disappearance.
Police have found no trace of him since he was captured on CCTV withdrawing cash from an ATM in Holloway Road shortly before he went missing. They are yet to recover the phone or bank card that he was known to have used on the last day he was seen.
DCI Marks said Mr Duff was a “well-known and likeable character,” adding: “There is certainly no obvious motive. It seems to have been a spontaneous incident.”
He appealed for anyone who saw Mr Duff on the day he disappeared to come forward, adding: “It may seem like nothing to you, but it might be the information we need to complete the picture.”
Helen Duff, Robert’s mother, said: “There has always been the hope that he would return to us one day. Since hearing that this is now a murder investigation, that hope has been taken away from us and as a family, we are devastated. Our only wish now is that Robert is returned to us and so we can grieve together.”
Two men, aged 70 and 51, were arrested on Monday on suspicion of murder. They have been released under investigation.