On the day he disappeared, 12 January 2013, Robert Duff was due to attend a family celebration for his daughter’s 18th birthday.
It was not an event he was likely to miss. The 37-year-old father-of-two was close to his parents and his two daughters and was in contact with them at least once a day.
So when he failed to turn up, his family was so worried she called the police. Officers forced their way into his home in Kilburn, northwest London, but found no sign of the 37 year-old father-of-two.
Robert was formally reported missing and a missing persons investigation began.
They established that one of the last times he was seen alive was at 11.12am when he was captured on CCTV withdrawing money from a cash machine outside Sainsbury’s in Holloway Road.
Robert also appears to have “pocket-dialled” his daughter Stephanie the same day. The call went to voicemail and the resulting recording captured the voices of two men and a woman shouting at a dog in the background. One of the men had a Scottish accent.
He has not been seen or heard from since despite a series of public appeals and in 2018 the Metropolitan Police launched a murder investigation.
Robert’s family said they were “devastated” by the development.
Robert’s disappearance has always been forefront in our minds, and although we have always suspected that he may have come to some harm, there has always been the hope that he would return to us one day.
Since hearing that this is now a murder investigation, that hope has been taken away from us and as a family, we are devastated. Our only wish now is that Robert is returned to us and so we can grieve together.Helen Duff, mother of Robert Duff
Two men aged 51 and 70 were arrested on suspicion of murder in Archway, north London, on Monday 14 May 2018, but were released under investigation following questioning. They were later released with no further action.
On the basis of a tip that Robert’s body could be concealed in water, police dive teams began a search of Highgate No 1 pond in Hampstead Heath in November 2020.
However no evidence of Robert was found during the searches.
Robert’s family desperately longs for answers, and we remain committed to finding him.
While current lines of inquiry have been exhausted, the case remains unsolved meaning that any new information received would be acted on and thoroughly investigated.
The search of the No1 pond in Highgate, was conducted over a number of weeks, but sadly failed to provide any results.
Not knowing what has happened to a loved one is a torment that no family should endure; I believe that someone has information about Robert’s whereabouts and why he disappeared so suddenly and it is my sincere hope that someone, who may not have felt able to come forward in 2013, may now be in a position to share with us what they know.
If you have information please do the right thing – get in touch and help us bring Robert’s family the closure they so desperately need.Detective Inspector Tom Williams, of the Specialist Crime Command, speaking during a further appeal in 2022
The Crimestoppers charity has offered a £10,000 reward for information leading to the discovery of Robert’s body or the conviction of those responsible for the murder.
Information can be passed to the police incident room over the phone via 0208 358 0200 or 101, or to the independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.