DAYS after investigators failed to find the body of her missing son, the mother of Damien Nettles has urged anyone who may know what happened to him to come forward to end her family’s turmoil.
Police launched an inch-by-inch search of marshland off the Cowes to Newport cycle track, near Stag Lane, last Wednesday.
It followed the arrest last Tuesday of five men on suspicion of killing Damien, who disappeared, aged 16, in 1996.
Police ended their marshland search on Saturday, when DCI Dave Powell said: "The police have concluded an exhaustive and detailed search of Dodnor Nature Reserve and surrounding areas.
"We have not found Damien and, furthermore, we are confident he is not there. This is exceptionally disappointing in many ways.
"However, the search for Damien goes on."
Among items found at the scene was a firearm but police have declined to comment on whether it is thought to be linked to this or any other case.
Speaking from her home in Dallas, Texas, Val Nettles told the County Press: "It is not over and there are a lot of things the police are still looking into.
"They are going to go back and reassess everything.
"No matter how steely you try to be about the whole thing, you cannot help but have that hope.
"We seemed so close to this being resolved and now we are not.
"This is very difficult and incredibly disappointing. I have to not let myself get too down.
"There could be someone out there who knows what happened but feels they cannot say anything, perhaps because of family loyalty.
"But you can’t live with that sort of thing. Hopefully someone in possession of that information will find it in their heart to come forward."
She thanked Islanders for their terrific support for the family and concern for Damien and urged anyone with information about him to contact the police or the family.