United Kingdom

Parents of Steven Clarke who went missing 28 years ago say they are still hopeful to get information

The elderly parents of a 23-year-old who went missing almost three decades ago have told how they are still hoping for information regarding their son's disappearance after being accused of his murder last year. 

Retired police officers Doris, 81, and Charles Clark, 78, from Marske, were accused of killing their disabled son Steven, who went missing in Saltburn on 28 December 28 1992, but were eventually cleared of the charges after a 17-week long investigation last year. 

The couple appeared on This Morning to discuss ITV documentary 'Accused of Killing our Son,' which is due to air on Thursday, and recounts Doris and Charles' ordeal. 

Speaking to presenters Phillip Schofield and Rochelle Humes, the couple revealed they are hoping new evidence will help lead them to their son whether'dead or alive.' 

Doris, 81 and Charles Clark, 78, from Marske, both retired police officers, were accused of killing their son Steven, who went missing in Saltburn on December 28 1992. They were eventually cleared of charges after a 17-week long investigation last year. They opened up about the ordeal on This Morning ahead of a documentary on the investigation, Accused of Murdering Our Son, airing on Thursday on ITV

Steven Clark, then 23, pictured, disappeared on 28 December 1992 during a walk on the beach with his mother 

The devastated parents recounted how Steven disappeared when he and his mother were taking a walk in Saltburn. 

Steven, then 23, decided to go to the public toilets - and was never seen again. 

Doris, who had used the women's bathroom at the same time her son was using the men's toilet, said: 'I came out and stood and people have asked me why I didn't go in.'

'He would have been horrified, he was 23, not a child.'

Doris and Charles, pictured, said they hoped the documentary would give them more information about Steven's disappearance 

Doris went home without Steven, while Charles, who was at a football match, rushed home to immediately start looking for his son.

He searched the beach by their house and travelled to Saltburn to find him, but was unsuccessful in his searches. 

'I got my car to Saltburn, went all over the place screaming,' he explained. '28 years, we never heard a word.'

In 2020, the couple were arrested on suspicion on murdering their son, and were released on bail after a cold case review. 

After a 17-week long investigation, they were cleared of all charges in February 2021.  

Steven's disappearance remained a mystery for 28 years, until Police launched a cold case review last year 

Pictured on holiday: Doris and Charles said they had received no information that suggested Steven was dead or alive 

Pressed by Phillip Schofield over what the motive for the murder would have been according to authorities, Doris claimed police never gave one.  

'I don't think they really said anything about a motive, there was nothing said like that,' she said. 

Former Police Detective Mark Williams-Thomas on who investigated the case said it was the 'most bizarre' he had ever worked on. 

'They get arrested on suspicion of the murder of their son, they were interviewed twice and released on bail,' he explained. 'When I first started, I treated them as suspect. I have given them a hard time at times, I had some very searching questions to get answers.' 

Former Police Detective Mark Williams-Thomas, pictured, said the disappearance of  Steven was the 'most bizarre' case he ever investigated 

'At the end of 17 weeks, they were cleared from all involvement,' he added.  'What we do see in the programme, we reveal all the evidence the police have got, in relation to Charles and Doris and people can make up their own minds as how strong that evidence is.'

He added the documentary showed 'quite uniquely the impact of being arrested on suspicion of your son's murder 30 years on and what that does to an elderly couple.' 

'What they've been through is an emotional roller-coaster. How you could possibly be in that situation at any age, but especially when you're that old and you've lost your son.' 

Doris and Charles, pictured in the documentary, said being arrested on suspicion of killing their own son had been 'shocking'

Viewers were touched by Doris and Charles' story, even though some said the fact they wanted information about Steven's disappearance, whether he was 'dead or alive' was strange 

Timeline of the probe into Steven Clark's disappearance 

December 28, 1992: Steven Clark is seen going into the gents' public toilets at 3pm in Saltburn, Cleveland, while his mother goes into the ladies. 

When Steven doesn't come out, his mother think he has made his own way home. 

A new witness has placed Steven in Marske later that afternoon, before it got dark at 3.45pm.  

September 1999: An anonymous letter was posted to Guisborough Police Station relating to Steven's disappearance. 

September 15, 2020: Following a cold case review, it is revealed that Steven's elderly parents have been arrested on suspicion of his murder. 

September 16, 2020: After being quizzed for six hours at the pollice station, Steven's parents insist they did not kill their son. 

September 17, 2020: Police investigating murder urge the writer of the anonymous letter in 1999 to make contact. 

September 19, 2020: A tent is set up in at Doris and Charles Clark's home as specialist officers begin investigations in the back garden of the couple's home.

Doris recounted the moment police came to arrest them.  

'When they rang the doorbell, it's only 8 o'clock in the morning they came without any warning whatsoever,' she said. 

'Again, we were cautioned and told we were being arrested for the murder of Steven Clark.

'I think I gave a nervous laugh because I couldn't believe it.' 

Charles added: 'It was shocking that particular time, we'd spent 28 years trying to get the police involved and they hardly ever did. Every year they'd appear and ask "where is Steven".' 

Doris said on This Morning she 'still had hope' to find information about Steven's disappearance - her call of which was echoed by Charles.  

'Yes, because we haven't gotten any evidence otherwise - if there was we'd appreciate it.' 

'I'd like this programme and whatever else to do for somebody or somewhere to find Steven.

'I don't know where he is and it'd be lovely to know, alive or dead, it doesn't matter.'

Some were left baffled by the wording of the phrase with one writing: 'He wants to know where his son is "alive or dead it doesn't matter" very strange way to put it.'

However, another person weighed in: 'Not really he has come to terms that his son may be dead as he hasn't seen him in what 28 years.'

Steven's disappearance remained a mystery for decades until Cleveland Police reopened the case and launched a murder investigation last year.

Doris and Charles were arrested by detectives last September, and their Marske home was searched by the force.

Accused of Murdering Our son, airing on Thursday at 9pm on ITV, recounts Doris and Charles' ordeal. 

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