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Was missing Bert’ murdered?

PUBLISHED: 09:56 26 February 2009 | UPDATED: 10:30 23 August 2010

GONE: Karl Hotchkiss

GONE: Karl Hotchkiss

A MAN who vanished 16 years ago leaving behind his three-year-old son may have been murdered, according to a top cop heading the re-opened case. Karl Hotchkiss, known as Bert , was last seen during the Easter weekend of 1993 on April 11, leaving behind

A MAN who vanished 16 years ago leaving behind his three-year-old son may have been murdered, according to a top cop heading the re-opened case.

Karl Hotchkiss, known as 'Bert', was last seen during the Easter weekend of 1993 on April 11, leaving behind his then three-year-old son, also called Karl.

As his heartbroken son and sister appeal for information, DCI Withers revealed investigators are baffled by his mysterious disappearance.

He said: "We are fearing that the worst may have happened but we are appealing to anyone who has information to get in contact with us.

"For the family this is very difficult, there has been no closure, just open-ended questions, 'what happened to my dad?', 'what happened to my brother?'."

DCI Withers added: "Did he just disappear or did something worse happen to him? Was he murdered? Did he have an accident? These are all questions we have to ask."

Last week the Reporter revealed Kent Police's Cold Case Investigation Team, which investigates unsolved murders, rapes and sex attacks and looks at long-standing missing person enquires, had re-opened the case.

Mr Hotchkiss, formerly of Empress Road, Gravesend, disappeared with no trace when he was 24-years-old.

He was last seen in the Old Manor Shades public house, Manor Road (now The Manor) and the Station Inn pub, Gravesend (now Bar 24, Station Road).

It is thought he may have had an argument with his then girlfriend at her home in Wellington Street shortly before his disappearance. DCI Withers hopes Gravesend residents can help to piece together his whereabouts after he was last seen in the two pubs.

This could then lead them to DNA clues giving them a greater chance of solving the case due to advancements in forensic techniques since 1993.

He said Mr Hotchkiss' disappearance was 'particularly strange' because he had unclaimed wages when he vanished and was a doting father. While missing his mother also died leaving behind an unclaimed inheritance.

This week his heartbroken son, also named Karl, now 19, said: "I am absolutely devastated about my dad because I have grown up without any memory of him and I have no idea what happened to him when he disappeared all those years ago."

The missing man's sister, Kelly, added: "We just miss him and want to find out what happened over these last 16 years and appeal to anyone who has any information that could help the police to call them."

Both still live in the area and are supporting the re-investigation that is being headed by the team based in Chatham.

l When Mr Hotchkiss was last seen he was wearing black baggy tracksuit bottoms and green and black trainers.

Having been a boxer when he was younger, he was physically fit in appearance, and lived and worked in Gravesend. He was 5ft 5in, of proportionate build, had blue eyes, short brown spiked hair with various scars and tattoos on his body.

Do you know the whereabouts of Karl 'Bert' Hotchkiss? Call the Cold Case team on 01634 843048 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

E-mail michael.adkins@archant.co.uk if you knew Karl and have information.

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