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Teenage daughter of missing mother appeals for help

'If I could get a message to my mum I’d just say please, please, phone or write to let us know you are all right'

15 February, 2019 — By Dan Carrier

THE daughter of a woman who has been missing for eight years has issued a heartfelt appeal for help in her family’s attempts to finally find out what happened to her.

Megan Purcell, 14, speaking to the New Journal with the consent of her guardians, told of the pain of not seeing her mother Lana since 2011.

“I often wonder if I walked past my mum in the street, would I even recognise her?” she said. “I have grown up in the same area as she did and sometimes I look at people who are the same age as my mum and I wonder if they know something. I have heard lovely memories people had of her. Somebody must know something.”

Lana, who was 26 when she disappeared, had grown up in Queen’s Crescent and went to Parliament Hill Secondary School. Police enquiries have found no trace of her. Her bank account and mobile phone have not been used, and CCTV searches have not brought any leads, and nothing has come from various appeals. Detectives have treated her case as a murder investigation.

Lana Purcell

A bright teenager with a talent for sport, Megan is currently at Acland Burghley School in Tufnell Park. “As I got older, I was curious so I did Google her as I wanted to find out what happened,” he added. “I ask myself: Are the police doing all they can? I want to be reassured.”

Discovering the story of her mother’s life has been something the teenager felt was necessary for her to do; her search has answered some questions, it has raised others.

Megan said: “Sometimes I feel like my mum’s life has been treated as if it were less important than someone else’s. I know she had a troubled past, but if someone goes missing they have a nationwide search for them, there is a big appeal. I cannot understand why this did not happen at the time. I often get worried that the police have given up on her, and me.”

In 2015 the missing person’s enquiry was transferred to the Metropolitan Police’s cold case murder squad and fresh appeals were made for information. A year later, a forensics team searched a property in Gospel Oak that Lana used to visit – but again no evidence or trace of Lana was found.

Various rumours have reached the family through the years as they hoped desperately for clues to appear.

They feared she may have been held against her will in a brothel in north London, or trafficked abroad. Other theories include fears that she came to harm after falling out with a group of dealers who had used her flat in Agar Grove to sell drugs from.

But with no fresh leads, Megan, who was six when Lana went missing, cannot help wondering if perhaps her mother is still alive and out there somewhere. She said the time was right to talk about how the case had affected her life, and is pictured from behind to avoid being identified by anybody who may harmed her mother.

Megan said: “If I could get a message to my mum I’d just say please, please, phone or write to let us know you are all right. We are all so worried, we all just want to know what happened. I really want some closure.”

She added: “I do hold on to the hope that she is fine and that she was in trouble and wanted a fresh start, but I say please just reach out. I want to say to her I really miss you and I love you. Now is the time for someone to step forward and let us know if they have any idea at all what happened or where my mum is now.”

Megan is a keen footballer, training at the PSG Academy in London, and is also an accomplished netball and dodge ball player. As she grows up, she wonders what attributes she has that match her mother’s.

Lana with young Megan

“I wonder what she looks like now. I have one photograph I look at and I carry this picture round with me in my mind. And I am trying to find my own identity now,” she said “I just always wonder what my mum was like at my age. I have so many questions, and I am desperate to have a conversation with her. Miracles do happen and long shots do come off. I really hope someone, somewhere, can tell us where mum is now.”

The Metropolitan Police could not comment directly on the procedures they followed when Lana was first reported missing, but with thousands of people disappearing each year and the police having limited resources, each case is taken on the specific circumstances before officers decide how to proceed.

Lana’s sister Davina Purcell said as the years go by the family feel their fears were not acted on quickly enough due to Lana’s troubled past; she was known to the police and had issues with substance abuse.

Davina said: “Lana was a beautiful, lovely sister. She had problems but she was loyal to her family, she came to see us every day. When she disappeared we were extremely concerned and went to the police immediately – but we feel they did not act on this due to her reputation.”

She added: “Eight years on, we are still no closer to knowing what happened, and we cannot help but look back at the first weeks of her disappearance and wonder if the police did all they could, what they should have done and if we would have been able to understand our loss better if they had acted swiftly.”

A police spokeswoman said: “The investigation into the disappearance of Lana Purcell, missing since January 2011, is ongoing. It is being led by the Met’s Homicide and Major Crime Command. Anyone with information about Lana and her disappearance is asked to call police via 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111. The Homicide and Major Crime Crime Command will continue to keep Lana’s family updated with any developments.”

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