The sister of a missing mother who disappeared without a trace 10 years ago has told how she believes she might have been abducted within minutes of leaving her home.
Esra Uryun, then 38, left her house in Clondalkin, Ireland, on the morning of 23 February 2011 to pop to the shops in her car but never came back, despite being ‘happy’ that her mother and mother-in-law were coming to stay the next day.
Her car was found later that evening at Bray Head, a coastal headland around 18 miles from where she lived and a notorious suicide spot.
Police believed Esra had taken her own life but her sister Berna Fidan believes otherwise, pointing to the fact that no body has ever been recovered and a handful of confusing clues – including that Esra’s car and house keys were handed into a local corner shop by an unknown person miles from where her car was found.
Speaking on the Missing Podcast, Berna appealed for information from anyone who might have seen Esra or her Renault Twingo that morning, explaining their mother is ‘holding on for dear life’ after surviving cancer and a stroke in the hope there will be news.
On February 23, 2011, Esra Uryun (pictured), then 38, left her Collinstown Grove home in Clondalkin at 7.20am to get milk for her husband Osgar and son Emin, but never returned
The Irish Police believed Esra’s sudden disappearance was a suicide, but her sister Berna (pictured) believes otherwise
Esra and her husband Ozgur had been living in Clondalkin four years after moving from Stoke Newington, London, for his job.
‘At first, Esra didn’t want to go because, because she didn’t want to leave her family behind,’ Berna explained. ‘So, she was quite reluctant to go, but then again, it was like, it might be good for our future.’
After the couple arrived in Ireland, Esra worked as an administrator in the same company as Ozgur, and was soon ‘overjoyed’ to find out she was pregnant.
Then in October 2010, months after Esra had left London, her father died. Esra continued to fly back and forth from Dublin to London to support her family as they grieved together.
In early 2011 Esra asked her mother, Neriman, whether she’d like to come to visit, thinking a change of scenery might be good for her.
As Neriman was also not in the best health, and a nervous flyer at the best of times, Esra also invited her mother-in-law on the trip too.
‘She made the arrangements, booked their tickets and the Sunday before she disappeared, she called me and she gave me a shopping list of things she’d forgot to get from London,’ explained Berna.
Neriman was due to arrive on February 24 and two days before, Esra bumped into a neighbour as she was taking out the rubbish, who recalled how she ‘looked really happy.’
For the Irish police, Esra’s case has been scaled back and they’re not actively searching – unless new information comes forward. Pictured, Berna and sister Esra
But while Esra’s daily life appeared to be running in routine, with no obvious concerns, on Wednesday the February 23, she vanished without a trace.
‘She disappeared and we just don’t know what’s happened to this day,’ said Berna.
That evening, Esra’s husband Ozgur called Berna to tell her that she hadn’t come home from a shopping trip in the morning and that he believed she was missing.
Can YOU help find Esra Uyran?
The Missing Podcast, in collaboration with missing persons charity Missing People and community interest group Locate International, is looking to speak to anyone who might have information.
Their main questions are:
- Did someone stop her on the road, Or did she get flagged down?
- Did something happen that she had to stop the car? Was she taken at that time?
- Did someone else get into the car and just drive it and dump it in Bray?
For more information click here.
‘He explained to me it was a normal morning,’ said Berna. ‘He said: “We all got up, I was just pottering around and I mentioned I wanted to go to the gym and that I was going to take the car for the day.”
‘And Esra just turned around and said, “you know what, if you’re going to take the car it’s cold. I don’t want to go out with the baby so I’ll just go and pick up a few bits I need and I’ll come back, you have the car and then I don’t have to go out again.”‘
Berna told Osgur to go to the police with a picture of Esra and the car registration number. And at around 11 o’clock, cops made a breakthrough and found the car was parked parked in Bray – a pretty coastal town near Dublin – and also a notorious suicide spot.
When she arrived there, the police immediately told Berna that they believed Esra had committed suicide – and suggested maybe she had been depressed because her father had died.
‘She’d been backwards and forwards to London several times after that,’ said Berna. ‘If someone’s going to commit suicide, they’re not going to invite their mothers up and make plans. And I said, “Where’s the body?” You cannot tell me it’s a suicide without giving me a body.’
Searches on the mountain area and the sea began almost immediately – with volunteers coming from everywhere – but nobody found anything.
Berna spent a lot of time watching the car park where Esra’s Renault Twingo had been found, and trying to speak to as many people as she could in the hope that they might have parked there car there on 24 February, and that maybe they’d seen the car – and who was driving it.
There were never any reported physical sightings of Esra and police couldn’t find any CCTV of her on the morning of 23 February to definitively establish where she’d been.
For the Irish police, Esra’s case has been scaled back. They’re not actively searching – and won’t unless new information comes forward. Pictured, Esra before she went missing
But Berna was there so frequently, that the owner of the adjacent Star Amusement arcade began to lookout for her – and informed her they had a camera that was keeping watch of the car park.
‘He played the footage back of their CCTV, picking up Esra’s car coming in,’ explained Berna. ‘You can see that side of her car and you can see the baby shield that you can have in the back seats. The car passes the camera and disappears into a blindspot.’
Berna continued: ‘He goes, “but carry on watching.” Then it comes back and passes their cameras again and leaves the car park. And this is a one way system.
‘Then her vehicle gets spotted again, coming out of Convent Avenue back onto the strand. And as her car came out, it was a near collision with the Skoda Octavia.’
The Renault is seen pulling out in front of a red Skoda Octavia, before tucking behind, and then following the car at speed – what was it doing? Minutes later, the car returned back into the car park where it was later found by the police.
Berna added: ‘What we can’t understand is the erratic driving because that’s not her. She wasn’t an erratic driver. She was quite a nervous driver… It just didn’t seem like her driving at all.’
Berna and her family have also scrutinised the timings of Esra’s day, with Ozgur remembering his wife leaving the house around 07:20 in the morning. But the first CCTV sighting of the car is at 07.50, on a roundabout which is only a four minute drive from Esra’s home.
Berna Fidan, sister of Esra Uyrun who went missing in February 2011 throws a rose into the pond pictured at Farmleigh this afternoon for Missing Person’s Day 2014
So what happened in the 30 minutes between Esra leaving the house and getting to that roundabout?
On the first anniversary of Esra’s disappearance, Berna went back to Ireland to speak to the press and put new posters up in the area. She expected it to be an uneventful trip. That was, until she flyered one shop in particular.
She recalled how one man came running out of a chip shop close to Esra’s home saying he had found her keys.
But due to the time elapsed between the keys being found – nearly three months by that point – and due to the shopkeeper’s wish to give them directly to Berna, any CCTV of how they came to be in the shop had long since been erased.
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‘We have no proof of who left them there,’ said Berna. ‘That does baffle me, actually, I can’t come up with a scenario for that because her car is in Bray. The keys turned up near her house.’
‘This is why the time difference near her house, the suspicion around that gets stronger with me because if someone had abducted her or taken her from nearby, and had those keys and dropped them afterwards. It could have been local.
‘It’s just another theory in my head. I can’t point fingers at anybody cause I have no proof of anything. But it was just very, very strange.’
It is now ten years since Esra disappeared – and the toll of her absence has taken on the family is immeasurable.
‘My mum has had a stroke, she’s had cancer,’ explained Berna. ‘She’s holding on for dear life and news to be quite honest with you.
My brother had this massive heart attack. Although he doesn’t talk about it, it all stems from stress. I try and keep it strong for the rest of them.’
For the Irish police, Esra’s case has been scaled back and they’re not actively searching – unless new information comes forward.
‘We’ve done appeal after appeal after appeal and still nothing has come of this,’ said Berna. ‘We’re just desperate we’re desperate for a form of closure.’
‘Somebody is not going to just disappear off the face of the earth and nobody’s seen or heard. Somebody does definitely know. We just need them to dig deep into their conscious and, you know, come and tell us.
‘I’ve got a Facebook page. I’ve got Twitter they can send me private messages. They can go straight through the confidential lines to the Gardai. They can go through any of these organisations if they wanted to stay anonymous. But we just need someone to come forward with the right answers for us.’