The family of a woman missing for 22 years believe they are on the verge of finding her body.
Andra Collins, 28, was pregnant when she disappeared on December 4, 2000 in Killala, Co. Mayo. She was last seen around 11pm after buying fries at a takeaway.
Although a fleece jacket was found at the local pier, it is believed that she did not commit suicide by jumping into the sea, but was instead kidnapped, murdered and buried in a shallow grave.
Her brother Patrick told that Irish Independent He believed an anonymous call he received at Christmas was credible and said the information he received could eventually lead to his sister’s remains being found.
“We met with Gardaí two weeks ago to find out about the latest investigation,” he said.
“After the Christmas roll call, a few people came forward with some information. I also got an anonymous call after being interviewed on the radio.
“As soon as I hung up the phone, I knew I wasn’t going to fall on deaf ears. The caller provided new information which is being followed up and I am confident this will lead to something.
“However, we are still appealing to anyone with information to come forward. There are people out there who definitely know what happened to Sandra and we still believe there is someone out there who can put a stop to it. We think we’re close to finding Sandra.”
Ms Collins’ family have refused to let the case of her disappearance disappear from public view in 2000.
In May 2014, following a review of the cold case, local plasterer Martin Earley was put on trial on charges of murder.
But the evidence against him was circumstantial: Sandra’s body was never found and there was no murder weapon or crime scene.
It is revealed in court that Ms Collins found out she was pregnant on the day of her disappearance. She had informed her GP that she intended to travel to England for an abortion.
Several people saw her in a phone booth in Killala throughout the day. The state claimed she called Mr Earley’s mobile phone and claims he also made calls to the payphone.
Witnesses confirmed Ms Collins was wearing a light pink fleece on the day of her disappearance.
This was subsequently found on December 9, 2000 at the pier in Killala. A pack of sausages and two notes were found in the bags. Mr Earley’s number was on one piece of paper, while the other piece contained the numbers of two abortion clinics in Britain.
The court was told that in statements to Gardaí, Mr Earley admitted having had a sexual relationship with Ms Collins but denied killing her.
After a four-week trial, Mr Earley left court a free man. Judge Patrick McCarthy ruled that there was insufficient evidence to find him guilty and ordered the jury to acquit him.
“At this point, we just want one body,” her brother Patrick said.
“We are not concerned with justice now; We have already walked this path. I think there are people out there who have information and are afraid. There’s a lot of fear in the community, a feeling that this is too close to home.
“We ask these people to look deep within themselves and try to find the courage to do the right thing.
“Out of fear or out of loyalty, there are people who hold back and we want to emphasize that there are so many ways to give us information without embroiling yourself.
“There is a confidential Gardaline and anyone who wants can send an anonymous letter.”
Interviews with Ms Collins’ family will be featured in a TG4 documentary about her disappearance next week.
In 2020, the family launched a GoFundMe appeal to raise money for a reward for anyone with information leading to the discovery of Ms Collins’ remains and to support Gardaí if a location for her remains is identified.
“Thanks to the GoFundMe page, we’re putting up billboards at bus stops in Mayo to try and reach people,” said her brother Patrick.
“We hope the people standing at the Ballina and Castlebar bus stops will look at Sandra’s picture and do the right thing.
“Since the GoFundMe page was launched in 2020, over €7,000 has been raised, enabling us to do this and providing money for a reward for information leading to the discovery of Sandra’s remains.
“We also hope to use the money to hire a renowned US criminal profiler to help Gardaí locate her.”
After their recent meeting with Gardaí, the Collins family is hoping for a breakthrough in the case. They are pushing for a solution, some kind of closure, but more than anything they want Mrs Collins to have her dignity back.
“It’s important to us to give our sister a proper burial,” Patrick said.
“Until we can do that, we will never give up. What happened to Sandra stole all of our lives. We stay focused because we love Sandra so much. She was so special and unique and we loved her. We just want to know where Sandra is. We just want her back and then we’ll walk away.”
The GoFundMe page set up by the Collins family is located at www.gofundme.com/f/bring-sandra-collins-home
https://www.independent.ie/irish-news/crime/missing-anonymous-phonecall-may-finally-help-solve-riddle-of-what-happened-sandra-collins-41641080.html Missing: Anonymous call could finally help solve the mystery of what happened to Sandra Collins