Sister talks of lives ‘in limbo’ as police search for missing man’s remains in East Heckington field

Michael Hewerdine. EMN-160211-123430001
Michael Hewerdine. EMN-160211-123430001

Excavations are continuing in a paddock beside the A17 at East Heckington as detectives search for remains of a missing man presumed murdered, 20 years ago.

Lincolnshire Police announced on Monday that fresh evidence had led them to search the fenland site at East Heckington, almost 20 years since Michael Hewerdine went missing from his home in Ruskington on November 21, 1996.

Unemployed Mr Hewerdine rarely travelled beyond Sleaford and Ruskington, visiting the bookmakers in town or playing darts and snooker in his local pub, the Shoulder of Mutton.

He was last seen going to meet someone in Sleaford.

But officers were seen using drones to scan the field next to a house on the outskirts of East Heckington, formerly the village pub, before bringing in a digger on Monday after receiving new information.

They had left his case on file, regularly reviewing it, even suspecting that his disappearance could have connections to the criminal underworld as he was known to the police having been linked to a number of local thefts before he went missing.

Detective Chief Inspector Martin Holvey, of the East Midlands Major Crime Unit, said the land owner only moved into this address in the last few years and is not part of this investigation. He urged people to respect their privacy while the work is ongoing, anticipating it to take one to two weeks.

Mr Hewerdine left behind his sister Madeleine Judd, 79, of Boston, another sister Daphne, mum Joyce and a daughter Kim, now 28, who has not seen him since she was eight years old. At the time he was separated from his partner and daughter.

Speaking to The Standard during a previous appeal for information, Mrs Judd said: “There must be someone who knows what happened to him but is afraid to speak.

“Without a body we cannot have a burial and move on. We are in limbo and would like some sort of closure. We have more or less accepted his death although the police cannot tell us what evidence they may have, I am sure he would have contacted me by now if he was alive.”

She added: “It never leaves you, it is always there. You get on with your life and look like you are coping, but it always comes into the conversation between my mum and I.

“You see someone when you are out and he looks a little like Michael and you have to take a second look.”

She recalls: “It was a Thursday evening when Michael disappeared. He wasked one of his friends to give him a lift into Sleaford because he didn’t drive and he was meeting someone.”

They do not know who the 32-year-old was meeting or where.

Anyone with any information should call 101 referring to incident 97 of 31/10/16 - or anonymously through Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.