The elderly parents of a 23-year-old who disappeared in 1992 have said their arrest this week for his murder was ‘absolutely ludicrous’.
Doris and Charles Clark have previously appealed for help in solving the mystery of what happened to their son Steven just after Christmas, almost 28 years ago.
The missing persons report stated that he was on a family walk and used the gents’ public toilets near the pier on the promenade at Saltburn, Cleveland, while his mother went into the ladies’ at the same time.
Speaking in 1997, Mrs Clark said her son ‘vanished in a puff of smoke with no warning or even a word of goodbye’.
She said at the time: ‘I started to wonder if someone had frogmarched him away at gunpoint.’
Steven Clark vanished 28 years ago after he walked into a public toilet near Saltburn Pier and never emerged
Steven’s father Charles Clark, pictured in 2010, was arrested this week along with his wife Doris
Missing person posters were issued at the time of Mr Clark’s disappearance
When he failed to come out, the missing persons report stated his mother thought he must have made his way home, but they never saw him again.
No body has ever been found.
Detectives from the Cleveland and North Yorkshire Cold Case Unit reopened the case earlier this year.
As a result, officers began a murder investigation as there was no proof of life, and said they had arrested two people.
Cleveland Police would not disclose any details about their sex or age. They have since been bailed.
At her neat semi-detached home close to the beach in Marske-by-the-Sea, Mrs Clark confirmed she and her husband were arrested on suspicion of murder.
She said: ‘It’s just absolutely ludicrous. There’s nothing more to say, it’s surreal.’
Asked if the couple denied murdering their son, she replied: ‘Absolutely, yes. It’s just too hard to believe really, but we have to believe it and suffer the consequences.’
She said being on bail was ‘horrendous’, adding: ‘There’s nothing I can say, except for the shock of being arrested.
‘It’s difficult isn’t it? ‘You get so tense and upset, we’ve just got to get on with it, I’m afraid. There’s nothing we can do, just wait and hope we get through it.’
Murder detectives reopened the cold case earlier this year – and have arrested his parentsas part of their investigation
Asked if she thought publicity about the case could help solve the mystery, she replied: ‘It’s 28 years ago. How on earth can anyone remember anything on that day? How can they (the police) ask other people, I cannot imagine anybody would remember.
‘They (the police) have to do their job and that’s it.’
Mrs Clark said her husband was ‘all right’, adding: ‘It’s gone on for all these years, it’s a nightmare really, nobody seems to understand that.’
The couple, who also have a daughter, have been supported by friends, Mrs Clark said.
Their son was last seen at 3pm on December 28 1992.
Cleveland Police said the key to the investigation was establishing what his relationships were like with the people he knew at the time of his disappearance
He walked with a pronounced limp as a result of a childhood road accident, which also left him with other disabilities.
At the time he disappeared, Mr Clark attended the Rathbone Society in Redcar, which worked with people with disabilities to improve their employment skills, and he had won the Apprentice of the Year Award.
Officers have now appealed for information from those who knew Mr Clark, or anyone who may have seen something odd on that Christmas Bank Holiday weekend.
Cleveland Police said the key to the investigation was establishing what his relationships were like with the people he knew at the time of his disappearance.
Speaking in 1997, Mrs Clark said: ‘The last time I saw him was as he walked into the public toilet.
‘In the beginning weird possibilities swan round in my mind. I started to wonder if someone had frogmarched him away at gunpoint.
‘There is simply nothing to go on. It is though he vanished in a puff of smoke with no warning or even a word of goodbye.
‘These days I try to block it out but he is always there at the back of my mind and in my heart.’
Mrs Clark added: ‘He just literally disappeared. We went for a walk together. He decided to nip into the gents, I popped into the ladies and when I came out and waited for quite a while to see if he was there, or if he was coming out, nothing happened. He didn’t appear and we haven’t seen him since.
‘There are times when I think, ‘it’s never going to happen’. But it’s got to. Surely, something has got to turn up. Somebody out there knows something.’
Mr Clark added: ‘They are all somewhere. I would just like to see our son come back.’
At the time he disappeared, Mr Clark attended the Rathbone Society in Redcar, which worked with people with disabilities to improve their employment skills
Detective Chief Inspector Shaun Page said: ‘Steven has been missing for 28 years.
‘There were many question marks over his disappearance, and as a result of our initial re-investigation and the fact that there is no proof of life, we believe that Steven has come to harm.
‘I appreciate that we’re asking people to think back to the 1990s, but there may be people who knew Steven and have information that may prove vital to this case.
‘I would urge them to come forward. The arrests are a significant development in the case, but we are still appealing to the public for help. We are continuing to conduct inquiries and searches may be carried out over the coming weeks.’
Anyone with information is asked to call 101.
In an appeal 10 years ago in the Teeside-based Gazette newspaper, Mrs Clark said: ‘There are times when I think, ‘it’s never going to happen’.
‘But it’s got to. Surely, something has got to turn up. Somebody out there knows something.’
Mr Clark told the newspaper: ‘I would just like to see our son come back.’