THE father-of-two who disappeared last week, prompting an appeal from his family, has been in touch with the police, it was confirmed this week.
Trevor McMurdie (47) drove off from his home near Markethill a fortnight ago, leaving his wife Jacqueline and sons Peter James (13) and Andrew (11) totally distraught, as they hadn’t heard from him for a week. But last Friday, he contacted the police, stating he was in England and would not be back - the second time he has absconded.
It leaves Mrs McMurdie to care for Peter James, who has slight learning difficulties, and Andrew who is virtually bed-ridden with the debilitating condition ME (myalgic encephalomyelitis). Both are shattered by their father’s departure and by the news he will not be returning.
Mr McMurdie, 47, whose own father took his own life 26 years ago, was last seen by his wife on Saturday, driving away from their remote home at Tyrone’s Ditches in his 4x4 vehicle. He said he was going to nearby Poyntzpass to buy coffee. He did not get in touch for six days, but after a heart-rending plea from Mrs McMurdie and the boys, he left a message with the police that he was in England and would not be back.
The family has heard a recording of the message and it has left them bereft. It states he will not return home to the former manse they are renting from a local church. Mrs McMurdie said, “We haven’t been able to sleep or eat since it happened. He did the same thing before and he returned.” She added that he seemed to have lost heart in recent weeks, and that he was not his usual active self around the house – “he was a bit down and we thought he would come out of it”.
The first time her husband disappeared was 11 years ago. Mrs McMurdie recalled, “He stayed away for a month, leaving me with two babies, but we picked up the pieces and got on with our lives”.
It leaves her with the problems of Andrew’s ME and the fact that Peter James is taking it very badly. He has been so distraught that he wears Mr McMurdie’s ‘duncher’ cap and wrote in his diary: “Daddy, if you are listening, please come home whatever the problems. We did everything together. You will be reunited with your pride and joy – me – and with mummy and your tractor, and surrounded by friends and family.” But it was all to no avail.
Andrew recently returned with his mother from having six weeks of specialist treatment in a world-renowned clinic in Hawaii, run by ME expert Dr Jamie Dockoff-Jones. The trip was made possible through a £30,000 fund-raising campaign by the local community. But he still suffers from the condition, is mainly confined to bed and the disappearance of his father has not helped.
His mother said, “He keeps saying he’s sick and daddy doesn’t want to look after him any more. This has really set him back. At least Trevor is still alive, but I thought that from the start in view of what happened before.”
Mr McMurdie’s vehicle was found at a filling station near Markethill on the day he left, with the keys still in the ignition. His exact whereabouts are unknown. He was a long-distance lorry driver until five years ago when he was made redundant.
Said Mrs McMurdie, “It’s such a heartless thing to do in the run-up to Christmas. He had even discussed our Christmas decorations on the night before he left, and we didn’t know what was going through his mind. But this time, he is unlikely to be back. I’ll just have to pick up the pieces, care for our boys and get on with life.”
Mr McMurdie also has two older stepchildren from his wife’s previous marriage.