ON A wet and windy night in March 1967, a young woman from Inverkeithing left her home to babysit for a friend but little did her family know it would be the last time they would see her.
Fifty years later, Norma Howieson’s sister, Moira Marshall, tells the Press what it’s like to never get any closure five decades on.
She said: “I’ve had my own children and I see cousins and friends with their siblings, and after all these years I still wonder what it would be like.
"I thought maybe my sister-in-law would help but she could never take the place of Norma.
“It’s just not the same as someone in the family dying because you just can’t get any closure. I just want people to remember her and know she will never be forgotten.
“She was the complete opposite to me! I talked a lot and she loved to read. There’s nothing to suggest that she was struggling, everything was normal.”
Norma, who was 22 and worked at the Phillips factory, never did turn up to her friends house to babysit. Instead, the following day police came to her family home to say they had found her bag and coat at the pier head in North Queensferry.
A six-month search began but police drew a blank.
Her sister, Moira, was 19 at the time, and she continued: “Norma had a Chinese boyfriend that worked as a waiter in Edinburgh. She never really spoke about him and I don’t even have any idea how long they were courting.
“My dad didn’t approve of him though, and although he never made a fuss, it was clear he wasn’t happy. This was different to her previous boyfriend who we all knew and were introduced to.
“Norma had worked in Edinburgh so maybe that’s how they met but I think she went off with the waiter. There’s no evidence of her leaving the country.
“The last person to see her was an elderly lady, walking down Inverkeithing High Street. There was no public transport after 6pm, so she must have gone off in a car.”
Twenty years later, the investigation was re-opened after a local man said he knew who killed Norma and where she was. However, again no leads were made.
The family’s auntie, Jean, who emigrated to Australia, once received a series of strange calls asking if Norma was there but this is the only fresh development over the last 50 years.
Moira added: “My dad walked for miles along the coast to see if he could find a body but nothing was ever found.
“I had to watch my mum and dad go through the rest of their years knowing she was somewhere out there but the longer it went on, the harder it was.
"We had to move into another home a little while later and my parents basically made a room into a shrine for Norma.
“It took me a long time to make them realise she wouldn’t need all that stuff if she came back. There was always pictures around the house though and we never stopped speaking about her.
“Norma has always been at the back of my mind and as I get older it has come more to the forefront.
“My kids have missed out on having an auntie and after 50 years there’s still no closure.
“It’s impossible to get closure.”