As a fresh campaign is launched to spearhead the search for Amy Fitzpatrick, the Olive Press delves deep into the teenager’s troubled life
Dozens of family and close friends reveal how Amy at 15 lived an itinerant lifestyle – often into the early hours – even before the fateful night she disappeared
THE truth is out there, but has someone thrown away the key?
The sleepy seaside town of La Cala in Mijas Costa has – yet again – become the setting for one of the Costa del Sol’s biggest mysteries.
Just years after the brutal murder of teenager Rocio Wanninkhof on scrubland above the village, a second teenage girl literally vanished into thin air.
Exactly 542 days ago Amy Fitzpatrick disappeared and, despite a false sighting reported in our last issue, further clues have been hard to come by.
Some vague talk of a white van, a couple who may have fled to England… but that is about it. No leads, no sightings and – apparently – no idea where Amy, then 15, may have disappeared to on that cold New Year’s Day a year and a half ago.
But now, after a new appeal was launched into the whereabouts – and in particular lifestyle – of the pretty teenager, we are determined to breathe new life into the case, which is seemingly reaching a dead end.
“I hope the authorities will be investigating the lifestyle Amy led in Spain in the near future”
We’ll highlight the facts – and let the discrepancies speak for themselves.
Speaking to dozens of friends and family members over the last fortnight, the Olive Press has managed to piece together a clear snapshot of Amy Fitzpatrick’s life two years running up to her disappearance in January 2008.
While most wanted to remain anonymous – a curious anomaly in a case like this – Amy’s father Christopher Fitzpatrick, who lives in Dublin, reveals that he was fearful over the lifestyle she had been leading in Spain.
So concerned was he over her wellbeing (he is estranged from Amy’s mother Audrey) he even hired his own private detective Liam A. Brady to dig more deeply into the case.
The information received so far has led them to launch the new campaign.
Talking exclusively to the Olive Press, Fitzpatrick said: “I am concerned over the lifestyle Amy led in Spain and I hope the authorities will be investigating it in the near future.” His concerns are backed up by a key, crucial letter – the alleged words of which have been seen by the Olive Press – in which a mother of one of Amy’s friend’s purportedly pleaded to the Irish authorities to take her into care for her own safety.
While Amy’s mother Audrey does not deny “a letter” was sent to the Irish ambassador in 2005, she insists that the author was “deranged” and strongly contests its content.
She confirmed to the Olive Press that it came about around the time her daughter was, she claims, “effectively kidnapped” by the mother of one of Amy’s close school friends.
While we have been unable to put this to the named family, who now live in the UK, it appears that already at the age of 13, Amy was regularly missing school, staying away for long periods of time with a number of different families and appeared generally isolated.
Among our discoveries, it emerges that she:
• Was not enrolled for school in the three months before she went missing
• Often turned up at friends houses in the middle of a school day looking for someone to hang out with
• Hated living in Spain and wanted to return to Ireland
• Spent long periods staying at friends houses and even ‘occasionally slept in a field’
• “Looked malnourished” and sometimes seemed hungry
• Would regularly go out late to bars and nightclubs from age 14
• Allegedly smoked marijuana and had panic attacks after drinking alcohol.
There is no doubt that Amy was a regular fixture in the transitory, often seedy, world of nightclubs along the Costa del Sol.
Among the places that Amy would frequent at the age of 14, are Lineker’s Bar in Fuengirola Port and various bars in the El Zoco centre, in Calahonda.
She had a number of short-term boyfriends, but mostly they didn’t last more than a few days. The only one of any real note was an English teenager called Will Short, who apparently has now moved back to the UK.
One of the bars she visited was Trafalgar Bar in the El Zoco centre, where, according to Irish detective Liam A. Brady, one or two eyewitnesses may have seen her after her supposed disappearance on New Year’s Day.
It is certainly a strange place. Roman sculptures line its entrance, while inside it is full of crass statues of eternally-grinning pirates, who will have overseen the many nights Amy spent with friends there. Or could she have often gone on her own?
It is a question that will concern any mother of a teenage girl and the answer could have been found from a friend’s parents who saw her apparently alone late one night.
“I was out with my husband one night having got a babysitter for my daughter and saw Amy hanging around the stairs at the El Zoco centre,” she revealed.
“There are lots of bars there and it was pretty late at night. I remember thinking she was very young. She would only have been 13 or 14. I remember thinking what is she doing? Why are her parents not around? This really isn’t safe for her.
“She was clearly a kind of free spirit and I didn’t want my daughter getting too involved with her, staying out late at night. I wanted her to keep her distance. It was clear that Amy was not going to school and was a bad influence on my daughter.
“She used to turn up at our house at 11am on a Tuesday morning asking if my daughter was in? I would say, ‘no she is not, she was at school’, but she would still turn up the next day and the next day.”
It is now more than apparent that Amy had plenty of time to stay out at her favourite bars at night, as it emerged that she frequently bunked off school.
In fact, the Olive Press can reveal that Amy was not even registered for the start of the 2007/2008 school year.
Despite sporadically attending IES Torre Almenara the previous year, Amy had finally completely dropped out of school.
A headmaster of the school in La Cala de Mijas confirmed she was not on the school list when she went missing, and rarely attended the previous year.
“She skipped a lot of classes,” said Mario Galdeano Chaparro. “A lot of the time she just wasn’t there. She was not even on our books for September 2007,” he said.
The school’s comments were further reinforced by Amy’s friends, three of whom confirmed that she was rarely at school and spent days hanging out wherever she could.
“She would often sleep late and go to the park just to do something with her time,” one said.
The image of Amy drifting aimlessly through life is further compounded by the opinion of one parent that she “seemed malnourished.”
The concerned Catholic mother, who also came from Dublin, told the Olive Press, she was always concerned about her wellbeing.
“I remember feeding her a few times. My daughter brought in all the waifs and strays asking: ‘Can we feed her? Can we look after her? And I did it a few times and she devoured all the food I gave her.
“She had a sense of malnourishment. It wasn’t clear who was caring for her.
“I don’t know how far the investigations are going to go, but there was clearly a question over her care.
“I wanted to parent her. It was very sad.”
The situation was also confirmed by a close member of her family.
Insisting that she remain anonymous, the relative said: “Amy asked if she could live with me back in Ireland. She did not want to live with her mother any more.
“She had definitely chosen to live in the wild. She wanted to fall through a loophole.”
It is an issue that detective Liam A. Brady really wants the police and social services in Spain to start investigating.
“Look, this girl was really allowed to do what she wanted. She was out late at night and spent long spells on end staying at different houses.
“We are finding new things every day. Most recently I discovered that on various occasions she slept in a field near her house.
“She was really not properly monitored. She wasn’t even reported missing for three days. She wasn’t being properly cared for.
“The answer to Amy’s disappearance lies within her lifestyle.”
Another friend Kimberley Simpson, who now lives in England, confirmed that Amy spent a lot of time at her house to get away from her mother and partner.
Kim, who lived near Club la Costa, in El Faro, wrote in a series of emails to the Olive Press: “Aimz was always at my house because we are really close, but if she had a row with her mum she would come to mine.
“She stayed at mine for long periods of time. She was practically my sister and seeing as she was comfortable and happy around myself, sister and mum we thought why not?
“She wasn’t a typical teenage rebel, yes she drank and smoked, but not because she wanted to rebel. It was just because we wanted a laugh – it wasn’t anything excessive, just going out on weekends, DVD nights in and facemasks.
“She’s very lively and bubbly around people she knows, but can be shy around people she doesn’t.”
She added: “She did miss her dad and wanted to go back to Ireland.”
This certainly seems to be the case and what is apparent is that she was due to go back to Ireland around the Christmas she disappeared. She had been looking forward to going back on Boxing Day, according to two friends, but at the last minute, her mother decided to stay at home to spend New Year with her partner Dave Mahon.
By all accounts Amy was devastated. “She came round to my house and fell on my bed in floods of tears,” said one of her close friends. “She was really looking forward to going back and she told me she wanted to get away from Spain. We had both already said goodbye to each other. But her mum did not want her to go.”
Amy’s mother, Audrey, confirmed that she was actually planning to take her back in February 2008, and that she had already packed her bag, which was still sitting in her bedroom. “She was due to celebrate her 16th birthday in Spain and then go back to Ireland,” she explained. “She was looking forward to seeing her nana and grandfather.”
It is a dangerous track to be taken by a teenage girl on her own and late at night
What we also know for certain is that Amy waved goodbye to her best friend Ashley Rose at 9.45pm on January 1 2008 as she embarked on her routine, and short, walk down the dirt track that led from Ashley’s house to her home in her urbanisation in Riviera del Sol, in Mijas Costa.
Only a few hundred metres in length and with a couple of houses scattered about on each side, it is nonetheless a dangerous track to be taken by a teenage girl late at night.
Her mother Audrey and Dave, a local businessman, initially claimed they never knew that the dirt track existed. What they are certain of, is that she never arrived home.
In fact, so often was she away and staying with friends that they didn’t miss Amy until January 3.
Things get even stranger when we started investigating the so-called ‘Mercy Letter’ that was allegedly sent by a concerned parent to the authorities on May 9 2005.
The letter was allegedly sent by an English woman, a chiropractor, who lived near Puerto Banus.
In tidy handwriting, she clearly felt that the Irish authorities should take an interest in Amy’s welfare.
While the Olive Press has a copy of the supposed letter, we are not publishing it for legal reasons.
When we contacted the Irish consulate in Fuengirola we were straight away given the name of a lady who worked at the embassy in Madrid.
“She knows all about that. She is the person to speak to,” we were told.
However, once contacted this lady clammed up and referred us to the press office in Dublin, who eventually came back insisting they could not comment.
While Audrey admits that there was indeed a letter, she insists she has not read it and that it could have simply been “a way of making money.”
She said: “I don’t know any details about it. It was a long time ago and it could have been written for money. The letter is wrong. If it was written by the person I am thinking of she was a headcase and I had to report her to the police.”
She continued: “Amy was staying with her and she would not tell me where she was. She was abusive on the phone and would often hang up. She said she was going to keep her and not going to let her come back. She told me in a text that Amy was not going to come back to me.
“Her friends did not know where the house was. But friends said it was a sort of travellers’ camp up towards Coin or Alhaurin. It was up a hill with caravans, animals, a real tip. I had to threaten the woman to bring Amy back. I said if she didn’t she would be arrested for kidnap.”
However, friends and family members in Ireland told the Olive Press, that the travellers’ camp was, in fact, a perfectly respectable home, owned by a professional woman, who had her own medical practice.
“This was a well-educated mother. She was a responsible woman with letters behind her name. She was doing the right thing by calling the authorities. She had Amy’s best interests at heart.”
Moreover, the source added, her father Christopher, who has been estranged from Audrey for many years, desperately tried to act on the letter.
“He took it very seriously and tried very hard to get Amy back to Ireland, but he had to first get their marriage certificate from Rome, which proved very complicated. He was quite ill at the time.”
What is also particularly interesting is the timings. While Amy’s mother claims she only stayed “for a few days” at the house, friends insist it was for weeks, perhaps a month, while at least one mother says it was for three months.
Conflicting stories, conflicting arguments, somewhere within this the truth will prevail.
It is due to this messy situation that her father has made a last ditch desperate plea for new information on his beloved daughter’s whereabouts.
“We believe that her lifestyle is the key to the whole thing,” said Irish detective Liam. A. Brady, who has worked on many high profile cases around the world. “We believe that if we can create a clear picture of the teenage Amy and how she lived, we can take one giant step toward cracking the case.”
There must be someone out there who can help.