150. Missing Persons

Part 7 of the 'Perfectionism' storyline. (Starts here.)

ISABELLE ROWE, 24, DIVORCED, a bank clerk from Revere, near Boston, Massachusetts; 164cm, 62kg, fair hair, blue eyes, with a tattoo of an eagle on her left shoulder. Mlle Rowe is severely epileptic and requires medication. She arrived at Tarbes-Lourdes-Pyrénées airport on BlueSky flight number BE7672 from London Gatwick at 7:30am on the morning of June 17, 1990 in the company of a tour group consisting of eleven people, including two staff members of the Catholic Pilgrims tour company. She was accompanied by a friend, Jeanne McClusky, 42 years, and her daughter, Cindi, aged 6 years. The group checked into the Auberge des Soeurs de la Miséricorde around 10am. Around 11:30am, Mlle Rowe told her mother she was going out to buy a packet of cigarettes. She never returned. A witness described seeing her getting into the front seat of a blue Renault Espace outside the entrance of the Auberge around midday but was unable to identify the car registration number other than that it was Parisian. Later that afternoon, Mme McClusky entered the Lourdes commissariat to request a missing persons investigation, or RIF (recherche dans l’interêt de famille). An empty purse matching the description of Mlle Rowe’s purse was handed in to the commissariat the following day. No further information of Mlle Rowe’s fate or whereabouts has since emerged and so, having deemed Mlle Rowe a runaway, the commissariat is no longer investigating the matter. While Mlle Rowe's daughter returned home at the earliest opportunity, Mme McClusky stayed on and engaged the services of a specialist private agency based in Toulouse, the Cabinet Dugarry. She remained another three months before returning to the US, heavily indebted as a result of her attempts to locate her friend. Mme McClusky has since returned numerous times to pursue her search, but without success.

Sabrina Catania, 19, languages student from Bari, Italy; 158cm, 51kg, fair hair, green eyes, 5cm birthmark on her outer right thigh. Mlle Catania accompanied her mother, Mme Renata Catania, 44, to Lourdes for a pilgrimage in the hope the waters would cure her mother of her debilitating migraines. Mme Catania complained of the onset of a migraine while at Mass on their second morning in Lourdes, the morning of February 11, 1991 (the Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes). Mother and daughter returned to their hotel, the Hôtel d'Espagne, without taking communion. With her mother in bed with the blinds drawn, Mlle Catania set out to buy pain relief medication at about 10am. The hotel concierge gave her directions to the nearest pharmacy, but the pharmacist on duty that day doesn't recall having served her. She never returned to the hotel. Mme Catania didn't report her missing until the evening. She told police that, lying with her migraine in the darkness, she lost consciousness of time. The last person to have seen Mlle Catania was M Eric Bogossian, a server at a bistrot at the corner of Rue de Bagnères and rue Bartayres. M Bogossian told the investigating detective she was walking quickly towards the centre of town (away from the pharmacy to which she'd been directed by the concierge) between 10:30am and 11am. He remembers her walking briskly and casting several glances behind her, as if she were worried she were being followed. He said he couldn't remember whether a blue Renault Espace was behind her as he was busy serving. Asked why he remembered Mlle Catania, he said he remembered her because she was very pretty, and he had a good memory for pretty girls. Mme Catania requested an RIF at the commissariat the following morning. After three days, an inspecteur told Mme Catania they had found no trace of her daughter other than M Bogossian's sighting, and they would be forced to suspend the investigation if no further inroads were made. Mme Catania stayed six weeks in Lourdes, engaging the services of the Cabinet Dugarry in Toulouse after the police finally suspended their investigation, but at the time of writing there has been no further indication of her daughter's fate.

Christelle Chavanet, 25, unmarried, speech therapist from Valence, France; 161cm, 52kg, fair hair, blue eyes, no other distinguishing features. Checked out of the Hôtel des Pyrénées around 7:45am on the morning of Wednesday, December 9, 1992, after a three-night stay, and has not been seen since. Mlle Chavanet's pilgrimage to Lourdes, to pray for Mary's intercession in relation to her father-in-law's business problems, coincided with the Feast of the Immaculate Conception the previous day. The hotel concierge, Mme Yvette Monti, told detectives that she was due to return to Valence by train via Toulouse and Montpellier. According to Mlle Chavanet's parents, she had called them the previous evening from the Hôtel des Pyrénées to tell them she would be arriving in Valence at 6:45pm the same day (the hotel's phone records confirm their number was called on the evening of December 8). When their daughter did not emerge from the train, M Léo Chavanet contacted the Valence police and requested an RIF. The Valence police in turn, contacted the Lourdes police, who immediately launched an investigation. Preliminary investigations found no one who could positively identify having seen Mlle Chavanet after Mme Monti, the concierge. On December 10, Mme Marguerite Chavanet and her son Edmond Chavanet travelled by car to Lourdes, checking into the same hotel as Mlle Chavanet. However, on Monday, December 13, they moved to another hotel, the Auberge Sainte-Bernadette. M Edmond Chavanet stayed the rest of the week, but when no further sign of his sister's whereabouts returned to his home in Lyons. Mme Chavanet remained in Lourdes a further fortnight, engaging the services of the Cabinet Dugarry to supplement the ongoing police investigation, neither of which unearthed any further sign of her whereabouts.