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 on the basis of information they received.
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.
Further information led dive teams to begin a search of Highgate No 1 pond in Hampstead Heath in November 2020.
My team remains committed to finding Robert and providing the answers that his family are so desperately longing for.
Following previous appeals, information was provided to my team that has led us to conduct a search of the No1 pond in Highgate. This work will continue over the coming weeks.
Understandably, while this search is ongoing, this will be an incredibly distressing time for Robert’s family. I would ask anyone who has information about where Robert is, or what may have happened to him, to contact police.
Not knowing what has happened to a loved one is a torment no family should endure; if you can help, please do the right thing and contact police and give Robert’s family the closure they deserve.Detective Inspector Tom Williams of the Specialist Crime Command
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.