On 1 February 1995, Richey Edwards, the designer, lyricist, and rhythm guitarist of Manic Street Preachers, vanished. 28 years later, his sister, Rachel, will be presenting at an international conference in Cardiff on 5-7 July, hosted by University of South Wales (USW).
Richey is still listed as a missing person. After many years, his case continues to attract significant mainstream media and social media attention with much speculation about what happened to him.
The Edwards family were thrust into the public eye at what became an incredibly difficult time for them all. After Richey’s disappearance, Rachel felt compelled to maintain public interest in the disappearance in the hope that Richey may be discovered. She has since been a supporter of families with a missing relative and in 2017 appeared as a finalist on Britain’s Got Talent as a member of Missing People Choir.
Known as Richard to his family, Richey was officially ‘presumed dead’ in 2008. Rachel said: “Understandably, some find the term ‘presumption of death’ upsetting but it is necessary to wind up complex financial issues. Our father was dying, and his wish was that Richard’s estate was in order. At the time, it was an extremely difficult process to obtain presumption of death.”
Rachel successfully campaigned to change the law so that families were able to deal with their missing loved one’s financial affairs in a more simplified way. Rachel gave evidence at a Governmental Enquiry and, in 2013, the ‘Presumption of Death Act’ became law. As a result, the application process for the presumed declaration of death became less complex.
In addition, Rachel was instrumental in the formation and implementation of the National Crime Agency (NCA) UK Missing Persons Unit. She also gave evidence at a further Governmental Enquiry that sought to ensure that the DNA of all missing people would be successfully captured, stored, and cross-matched against all unidentified bodies and body parts.
Rachel is also a voluntary Board Director for the National Missing Persons Helpline in Ireland, a non-profit organisation who aim to bring hope to families and friends of missing persons through resources, support, and raising awareness.
“The Missing Persons Helpline Ireland is making great strides in Ireland with the Department of Justice and unidentified bodies. Something else that I am passionate about, and I will discuss at the conference, is the way in which the NCA Unidentified Found Remains database can help solve cases of missing people,” she said.
Dr Cheryl Allsop, USW Senior Lecturer in Criminology and Criminal Justice, said: “We are delighted to welcome Rachel and a host of presenters from a variety of fields to the conference.
“We also owe thanks to the Centre for the Study of Missing Persons at University of Portsmouth and to all of the presenters for making this conference possible. This includes police, practitioners, and academics, as well as representatives from charities - Missing People, Locate International, Unseen, Listen Up, Alzheimer Scotland,. and Central Beacons Mountain Rescue Team.”
Hosted in Wales for the first time, the International Conference of Missing Children and Adults will be held at the Principality Stadium over three days. The conference will explore and discuss the full range of issues associated with the challenges faced by those who are missed, those who respond to missing, and those who are affected by missing.