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In 1986, Suzy arranged to meet a man named 'Mr Kipper'. She hasn't been seen since.

In the late 1980s, Suzy Lamplugh’s photograph was everywhere in the British media. The 25-year-old’s smiling face and side-swept fringe anchored front pages and news bulletins about her mysterious disappearance.

The real estate agent had vanished in July 1986 after leaving her office for an appointment. An entry in her work diary signalled that she planned to show a man named ‘Mr Kipper’ through a house in Fulham, in London’s south west. She’s not been seen since, and no body has ever been found.

This week, some 32 years on, the case – and Suzy’s face – is once again back in the headlines, as police excavate the yard of a home connected to the primary suspect in her disappearance. Convicted rapist and murderer John Cannan.

Police swarmed over the property in Sutton Coldfield, Birmingham, which once belonged to the 64-year-old’s mother. According to The Guardian, detectives are focusing their attention on the garden, the concrete floor of the garage and a paved patio at the rear of the home.

Suzy’s sister, Lizzie Bingham, told the BBC that the family is remaining guarded about the search.

“We have seen various police searches over the years so we are cautious,” she said. “But we hope Suzy’s body will be found and we can have the closure we really need.”

Image: Police at the Birmingham property.

Suzy's disappearance.

It was 28 July, 1986. Suzy left the Sturgis and Sons estate agency office for her appointment with 'Mr Kipper' at 12:40 local time, taking her keys and a wallet containing £15.

The last time she was seen alive was around 1pm, when witnesses saw her arguing with a man outside a property on Shorrolds Road, Fulham.

When Suzy failed to show up for her next appointment, her boss became concerned. He telephoned Suzy's mother, Diana, who later recounted the conversation: "Do you have any idea where your daughter might be, Mrs Lamplugh? We wondered whether she could have called into home for lunch. I don’t want to worry you, Mrs Lamplugh... but Susannah left to show a house to a client just before lunch and she has not returned. We just wanted to check anywhere we could."

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Her white Ford Fiesta company car was discovered roughly 2km away on a nearby street with the doors unlocked, the handbrake off and the keys missing. Her wallet, still containing the the £15, was in the pocket of the driver’s door.

Suzy was reported missing at 6:45pm that day.

The week after her daughter's disappearance, Diana told the BBC, “I can face up to the fact that she has died. But I cannot face up to what has happened between. That’s too much.”

Years passed, and still no trace was found. In 1994, a coroner officially declared Suzy dead, presumed murdered.

John Cannan. Image: Getty.

Who is 'Mr Kipper'?

No one has ever been charged over Suzy Lamplugh's abduction or murder. But in 1989, police turned their attention to John Cannan. The former car salesman was behind bars, serving three life sentences for the 1987 murder of newlywed Shirley Banks, the attempted kidnapping of Julia Holman, and the rape of a woman in Reading in 1986.

His nickname among his fellow inmates was Kipper, which according to The Sun, reflected his fondness for naps and for eating fish (kipper) and chips.

Cannan had been recently released from a hostel at the time of Suzy's disappearance. According to The Guardian, he closely matched the witness' description of the man seen arguing with Suzy and had later expressed "a strong interest" in the case to his former girlfriend.

Police interviewed him three times - in 1989, 1990 and again in 2000 - and each time he denied any involvement.

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In November 2002 the Crown Prosecution Service decided there was insufficient evidence to charge Cannan in relation to Suzy's disappearance. Yet that same month the police took the unusual step of publicly naming him as their primary suspect.

The new search.

It's not clear precisely what has lead police to dig up the property in Birmingham this week.

According to The Guardian, "A smaller excavation took place at the same house in 2002, when police examined a patio area following a tip-off, but nothing was found. Searches were also carried out in 2003 and early 2004."

Police are yet to comment on whether anything has been found in the latest search, whether they are any closer to bringing closure to Suzy's loved ones.

Diana and Paul Lamplugh in 1986. Image: Getty.

Sadly, both her parents have passed away without answers; Diana died in 2011, and her father, Paul, in June this year at the age of 87.

Since their daughter's disappearance, the couple devoted themselves to a trust established in her name. The organisation established the UK's National Stalking Helpline and campaigned for the Protection from Harassment Act 1997 which tackled stalking, work which earned the couple an Order of the British Empire.

Though despite his incredible work, and despite the passage of time, Paul's grief never eased.

“I miss Suzy more now...I think the older I get the more I miss her," he told the BBC in 2016.

"I particularly remember a conversation when Diana was chiding her for doing too much and she said, 'Come on mum, life is for living'."