Interest in the cold case has been renewed thanks to a German true crime podcast
The father of a woman who vanished without a trace in Germany 20 years ago is appealing for fresh clues.
Phil Kerton is hoping that a member of the public or German, Belgian or British police forces have new information as to what happened to his daughter Louise Kerton on the 20th anniversary of her disappearance.
Louise was a 24-year-old student nurse who has been in Germany on holiday with her fiancé Peter Simon and his family when she went missing. She is believed to have travelled there through Belgium via rail and ferry.
She was travelling home on her own on 30 July 2001, but she never made it back to the UK following the five-week break in the village of Strassfeld, near Bonn.
Mr Simon’s mother Ramana said she had dropped Louise off at Aachen train station, in Germany, and saw her walk to the platform from where she planned to take a train to the Belgian port of Ostend, and then a Hovercraft to Dover.
However, no witnesses have said that they saw Louise at any stage of her journey back home to Kent.
There is some doubt as to whether she even got on the train from Germany to Belgium.
No body has been found, despite searches of fields, bodies of water, and gravel pits. No arrests have been made.
Mr Kerton, said: “We’d just like to know what happened. Maybe somebody remembers something. I’ve kept the same mobile phone number in the hope she might one day call, however remote that possibility is.”
Louise’s fiancé Mr Simon is half German and lived with her in Broadstairs, Kent. He had travelled back to the UK from Germany, two days before Louise left his family’s home in Strassfeld, to pick up some building materials.
He went to Dover Hoverport on the evening of 30 July when she was scheduled to arrive. He then called Louise’s sister Francesca.
Describing the call, Mr Kerton said: “He cried, and said she must be dead, whereupon my daughter, Francesca, said, ‘Why don’t you consider the possibility she might turn up on the next ferry?’”
Louise’s other sister Angela said that, in the following days, Mr Simon told her that he had seen Louise’s ghost.
At the time of Louise’s disappearance, the case garnered considerable public attention – and partly because she had attended the same school as Lucie Blackman, a 21-year-old flight attendant who was raped and murdered in Japan in 2000.
Clare Tiltman, who was stabbed to death in 1993 at the age of 16 and whose killer was only convicted in 2014, also went to the private school Walthamstow Hall.
Mr Kerton said: “We had talked about these cases a lot. She grew up very aware of them, and of the distress they caused their families.”
Louise’s case attracted the German public’s attention after true crime podcast Akte Rhineland – translated to Rhineland File – reported on her disappearance in March last year.
The podcast suggests that she may have been unhappy in her relationship, and reported that the Simon family’s neighbours in Strassfeld said that Louise – who had failed her final nursing exam before travelling to Germany – had seemed depressed.
The podcast also mentions that Mr Simon’s brother Michael, who had lived next to the couple in Broadstairs, had been investigated and then acquitted of the murder of a 79-year-old woman in the UK in 1993.
The Simon family have always insisted that they did not have anything to do with Louise’s disappearance. They have since moved out of their home in Strassfeld, which was searched by German police in 2002.
Louise’s fiancé Mr Simon is said to now be living in Switzerland. Her mother Kathleen died of stomach cancer 10 years ago without learning what happened to her daughter.
Detective Superintendent Paul Fotheringham, of Kent Police, said: “Kent Police has not been made aware of any developments in the investigation by the German authorities and any further inquiries should be made to the Aachen state prosecutor.”
Police in Aachen said they passed the case on to state police but that it is not an active investigation.