The Search for John White by Sue Harrison – FinderMonkey Senior Researcher

When this case was assigned to me I knew it was never going to be an easy one. The gentleman we were searching for had been missing for some 40 years. When he disappeared his car had been found at Dover and some years later he had been declared legally dead. To most people this would have seemed a hopeless case but here at FinderMonkey we know that things are rarely as they seem and to assume the obvious is a recipe for failure. We started the case like any other by searching birth marriage and death records and then checking our data systems for a John White with a matching date of birth and also checking for any John currently resident in the UK with a matching date of birth working on the assumption that John may have chosen to change his name.

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When the results were negative I called Jennifer to discuss the case. Jennifer had initiated searches with other organisations so she was not at all surprised by what I had to say. I wanted to speak to Jennifer and get a sense of what had driven her to search again. I knew that she had to believe that John was still living. I talked to Jennifer at length and immediately sensed her absolute belief that John was not dead. I sensed that she wanted to prove this and to show that she had been right about it all these years. We discussed John and how he had always talked about the desire to live in Spain and own a bar. I told Jennifer that we could research bars in Spain and see if we could find any that were owned by an ex-pat called John who would have been in Spain for around 40 years.

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We did find one bar in Spain where a man who was referred to as “Manchester John” had been in residence for many years. I knew John had some links to Manchester before his disappearance and so looked into this further and managed to source some recent footage of him in the bar. We sent this to Jennifer who was unable to be certain if it was John or not, after all 40 years had passed. I called the bar and spoke to John who was able to confirm that he was not John White. I spoke to Jennifer again and said that the only option we were now left with was to search Spain for a John White with a matching date of birth. We had found no evidence of John being in Spain or even of him being alive and so were wary of encouraging Jennifer to make the decision to do this. I was torn between not wanting to foster false hope and making sure no stone was left unturned.

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