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UK News The mystery of 'Ireland's Madeleine McCann': Unsolved case of six-year-old girl who went missing 42 years ago is rocked as identical twin sister claims to 'know who killed her'

06:45  11 december  2019
06:45  11 december  2019 Source:   dailymail.co.uk

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Undated handout photo issued by the Garda of Mary Boyle who went missing in 1977. © Press Association Undated handout photo issued by the Garda of Mary Boyle who went missing in 1977. She remains the youngest child to ever go missing in Ireland after vanishing at six-years-old from her grandparents' dairy farm in County Donegal.

Mary Boyle disappeared on March 18, 1977, while her family were making an annual trip to their elderly relatives in Cashelard for the St Patrick's Day holiday. 

Despite multiple searches, Birmingham-born Mary - who has been dubbed Ireland's Madeleine McCann - was never seen again and is presumed dead, although her case remains open 42 years later.  

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Now, a new BBC podcast, No Body Recovered, reveals how the mystery of the disappearance has torn her family apart, with her mother and Mary's identical twin sister, Ann, no longer speaking to each other. 

As well as wanting an inquest to be held into her sister's death, Ann believes she knows who killed her sibling and why - although she can't elaborate for legal reasons - and claims her mother shares the same suspicion. 

However, Mary's mother insists she has no idea who might have killed her daughter, and does not want an inquest because it would involve accepting her child is certainly dead.  

Here, FEMAIL highlights the dreadful toll this unsolved mystery has taken on Mary's family...

Undated handout photo issued by the Garda of an age progression photo of Mary Boyle © Press Association Undated handout photo issued by the Garda of an age progression photo of Mary Boyle THE DAY MARY WENT MISSING

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It was the day after St Patrick's Day and Mary's mother, Ann Boyle, was washing the dishes when her worried father urged her to check on the children who were playing in the fields.

"They're fine", I said, "I can hear them playing"', Mrs Boyle recalled to journalist and podcast presenter Kevin Connolly. 'But he said it a second time and I said, "I will look out". I went to the window and I couldn't see the kids.

'I went as far as the door and I could only see a couple of them. I went over then as far as the gate and I said, "Where's Mary?". The other four children were there and they said they hadn't seen her since dinner time.

a group of people posing for the camera: Mary's mother Ann hold a photo of her late husband Charlie along with a picture of her three children. Mary is pictured wearing a red top in the photograph © Provided by Daily Mail Mary's mother Ann hold a photo of her late husband Charlie along with a picture of her three children. Mary is pictured wearing a red top in the photograph 'I panicked right away because the child didn't know the area,' admitted the mother, who quickly started searching for her daughter after ushering her two other children, Ann and Patrick, and their cousins inside.

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Mary and her family lived in Kincasslagh – 50 miles to the north of Cashelard on the wild Donegal coastline.

It was later claimed that Mary - who was recorded as last wearing a hand-knitted lilac cardigan, brown jeans and black wellington boots - had followed her Uncle Gerry as he set off to return a ladder to a neighbour, but along the way, she had turned back. 

Despite multiple searches, the youngster was never seen again and is presumed dead - however, her case remains open. 

a group of people posing for the camera: Some of Mary's family, pictured left to right: Ann Doherty, her granddaughter Charley Boyle Jr, Ann Boyle Snr, and Mrs Doherty's daughter Mary Boyle Jr © Provided by Daily Mail Some of Mary's family, pictured left to right: Ann Doherty, her granddaughter Charley Boyle Jr, Ann Boyle Snr, and Mrs Doherty's daughter Mary Boyle Jr THE FAMILY FALLOUT 

While largely forgotten by the outside world, Mary's disappearance has continued to create tension between those who loved her.

Mary's identical twin Ann Doherty, 48, of County Offaly, and her mother no longer speak to one another, because the sibling believes she knows who murdered her sister.

Mrs Doherty, who believes Mary was killed by someone known to her, thinks her mother shares those suspicions but won't admit that in public. Mrs Boyle insists she doesn't know.  

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Mary's sister has shared her suspicions  with the gardaí, but no details about the suspect were aired on the podcast for legal reasons.

But it's not only that which divides Mrs Boyle and her estranged daughter.

Mrs Doherty, a mother-of-five, is campaigning for an inquest into her sister's disappearance - meaning Mary would have to be declared dead.

Mrs Boyle said: 'I don’t want an inquest that Mary is dead. I want to believe that Mary is still alive somewhere. I have to live that way.' 

Joan Hambidge standing in front of a building: Mary's identical twin Ann Doherty, 48, of County Offaly, and her mother no longer speak to one another as the sibling (pictured) believes she knows who murdered her sister © Provided by Daily Mail Mary's identical twin Ann Doherty, 48, of County Offaly, and her mother no longer speak to one another as the sibling (pictured) believes she knows who murdered her sister But speaking in the podcast, Mrs Doherty explained: 'I do think an inquest is the best thing, as it may lead to Mary being found. There might be something that comes out of it that could help.

'When I asked for the inquest [my mother] wasn't happy about that. And she rang up and she was not happy and she stopped talking, so there's not much you can do about it.       

'It's very tough. I should be able to talk to my mother, but at the minute I can't. A few people have tried to patch us up, but it's not happening at the minute.'

When told her mother expected an apology from her, the twin said: 'I don't see why I should have to apologise for looking for Mary. Everyone's entitled to their own opinion. 

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'I don't see what I have to apologise for. I'm only trying to find Mary and I'm not going to apologise for that. I think if everyone knew what happened to Mary everyone would be able to rest easy and you'd have nothing to be fighting about.

'Things totally changed when Mary went missing. Life has never been the same since. It made our childhood a lot harder than it should've been. There was an awful lot of tears.' 

But not every relationship in the Boyle household was strained, with Mrs Boyle insisting she 'became closer' to her husband, Charlie, who died 14 years ago in an accident at sea.

a person standing in front of a brick building: Mrs Boyle at a memorial to her daughter at St Mary's Church in Kincasslagh, Co Donegal - the inscription wrongly states Mary's age as she was six when she went missing © Provided by Daily Mail Mrs Boyle at a memorial to her daughter at St Mary's Church in Kincasslagh, Co Donegal - the inscription wrongly states Mary's age as she was six when she went missing

Recalling her time with her husband, Mrs Boyle said: 'We became closer actually and it was wonderful that we did, as it could have split up people but thank god we didn't.'

She concluded: 'I never lost my faith all through everything. I pray to find out what happened to Mary before I die. Everyday I pray for that. There's times I think maybe she's alive somewhere. I have that hope still at the back of my mind.' 

HATE FILLED LETTERS TO A DISTRAUGHT MOTHER

In 2017, Mary's mother revealed she had been receiving hate mail from someone pretending to be her six-year-old daughter.  

Speaking on RTE Prime Time, she said: 'One was a Christmas card and the other was a letter, and the stuff that was in it was shocking.

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'That threatened my life, and frightened the life out of me. One of them started off like it was from Mary. I mean, my God. That made me ill.'

'He said that I was the worst mother in the world. Hateful,' she explained in the podcast, before adding that it had caused her to move out of her home and live with a relative.

A man suspected of sending the hate mail died in 2018 before he could appear before the courts, and Mrs Boyle admitted that the nasty notes have since stopped.

a person standing on top of a dirt field: Despite multiple searches (one pictured in 2011 in County Donegal), Mary was never seen again after vanishing in 1977 and is presumed dead - however, her case remains open © Provided by Daily Mail Despite multiple searches (one pictured in 2011 in County Donegal), Mary was never seen again after vanishing in 1977 and is presumed dead - however, her case remains open However, the distraught mother believes she is still treated poorly thanks to a YouTube documentary about Mary, which features her daughter Mrs Doherty. 

The programme three years ago sharpened the division within the Boyle family after Mrs Doherty shared her theories.

Many viewers were apparently angered that Mrs Boyle decided not to appear in the documentary, and further unimpressed when she refused to join her daughter in accusing the chief suspect.  

'There is neighbours that don't talk to me,' explained Mrs Boyle. 'If you see the look they give me, that's enough. They don't even say hello. It was when that film on YouTube came out.' 

Mrs Boyle hit back at her daughter's claims, saying: 'I told her she should stop telling her lies. You can't accuse anybody - you have to have proof.

'That was the last time we spoke. Must have been three years ago.'


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