The Llangollen Mystery
"Back in 2 minutes"
On June 16, 1990 in the small Welsh town of Llangollen, antiques dealer Trevaline Evans went about her usual routine in her quaint little shop. Numerous friends, acquaintances and customers came into the shop that morning and and recalled Mrs Evans appeared happy, indeed nothing appeared amiss. Several hours later, around lunch time she left a note on the front door notifying customers she would be “Back in 2 minutes”. She was then seen by several people throughout the busy centre as she made her way through the town, with the last confirmed sighting of her at 2:30pm near her home. After this, Trevaline Evans simply vanished and no trace of her has ever been found despite a thorough police investigation. Since then, the case has been re-opened in the hopes new forensic techniques might be able to help trace Mrs Evans, but the most compelling theory is that she was abducted and murdered by people or persons unknown.
On the Saturday morning of her disappearance, 52-year-old Trevaline was busy opening her store, Attic Antiques, which was situated on Church Street in Denbighshire, north-east Wales. She had been home for the past three days alone, having returned to Llangollen on 13 June. She had spent the previous several days near the coast of Rhuddlan with her husband Richard, who had stayed on and was busy renovating the couple’s holiday bungalow. That morning she drove to Church Street, parked her car, a dark blue Ford Estate, about 200 yards away and opened the shop at 9:30am. Around 25 customers and friends of Trevaline came into her shop that morning, and all would later confirm that she was in high spirits, and appeared to be relaxed and happy. The weather that day was hot and sunny and Mrs Evans had made plans to go out with friends during the evening.
She was seen in her shop talking with a smartly dressed man, who’s identity has never been confirmed. Shortly after the man left, Trevaline left her shop at about 12:40pm and travelled into the town, placing a handwritten note on the front door of the shop which read, “Back in 2 minutes”. She then made her way into Llangollen, a small but busy town that morning in Denbighshire made famous by the “Ladies of Llangollen”, the Honourable Sarah Ponsonby and Lady Eleanor Butler who made their home at Plan Newydd in 1870, and which would become a place of beauty and solitude for the two women who entertained curious royalty, nobility and famous personalities of the period who would come by to share tea with the ladies and admire the splendour and beauty of the garden they had cultivated, which was described as a “wondrous uptopia”.
Leaving her car parked where she left it, Trevaline made her way through the town centre, stopping to buy an apple and banana from a fruit seller and was then seen crossing over to Castle Street nearby. There was a final confirmed sighting of her at 2:30pm near her house on Market Street, after this she simply vanishes. There are two further, though unconfirmed sightings after Trevaline is near her home. At 2:35pm a woman matching her description was seen walking out of Llangollen along the A5 beside the Riverside Park in the direction of Corwen. A further witness report makes mention of a woman walking in the direction of the River Dee through Park Avenue.
When Trevaline failed to return, the police were notified and began an investigation into a possible missing persons case. Evans shop, Attic Antiques was searched in an attempt to locate her, and officers found it exactly as she had left it. It was believed by detectives that she might have returned to the shop at some point because her handbag, car keys and jacket along with the fruit she bought and some flowers were left behind in the store. This theory is strengthened further when a banana skin was found in the dustbin, meaning she might have returned at some point before her disappearance, but it is unsure if it was the same banana bought that day.
Her husband, Richard Evans was notified of her disappearance along with their son Richard, who was a police Sergeant in his early 20’s. Detectives soon began checking her bank accounts which revealed no money had been withdrawn. The subsequent investigation saw thousands of man hours, over 330 police statements taken, more than 1,500 names crossed-checked and 700 cars eliminated from the enquiry. Meanwhile every household in Llangollen was visited in an attempt to gather witness statements, as well as areas outside Denbighshire. Volunteer searches were conducted of the River Dee, the local canal, caves and mine shafts in the Llangollen area incase Trevaline had befallen some accident whilst out walking. An artists impression of the man seen wearing a blazer in shop shortly before she vanished was made from witness statements and circulated during the initial investigation. However, no one came forward with any information about the unidentified man.
North Wales Det Chp Insp Colin Edwards who was in charge of the investigation commented to the Telegraph newspaper, “It is without a doubt the strangest inquiry I have ever been involved with. How a happily married woman could vanish without a trace on a sunny Saturday morning in a busy town centre is totally baffling”. The initial investigation into the disappearance of Trevaline Evans failed to ascertain her whereabouts, or what happened to her on that fateful Saturday morning in June 1990. There have been unconfirmed reported sightings of Mrs Evans as far away as London, Australia and even an alleged sighting in France that was reported to Interpol.
Her disappearance was featured twice on the BBC television show Crimewatch that depicted a reconstruction of the events before she went missing. In 1992 a ‘spiritual medium’ contacted police with information that her body could be located near woodland in the World’s End area, which was searched by officers without success. The following year in 1993, a woman contacted detectives and declared she had an “overwhelming” feeling that the body of Trevaline could be found by a canal bank near Llangollen. Police searched the area with sniffer dogs but found nothing. The couples son Richard Evans Jr, a police sergeant, died from a heart attack in his late 30’s in 1999.
The case was re-opened 11 years later in 2001 and detectives now disregarded the artists impression of a man seen in her company shortly before she went missing as inaccurate after it had failed to provide any credible leads. Officers now re-focused the investigation to determine Trevaline’s whereabouts and actions in the days leading up to her disappearance after she returned from Rhuddlan on June 13, 1990. It was then that her husband, 72-year-old Richard Evans senior was arrested on suspicion of having information concerning her whereabouts, but was later released without charge.
2010 marked the 20th anniversary of her disappearance, and the case was again re-examined in an attempt to locate Trevaline. Acting on new information, detectives looked into a possible link between her case and that of convicted Serial Killer Robin Ligus. Ligus was sentenced to life imprisonment for the murders of three men in 1994, all of whom were killed in different ways. However, police soon ruled out any connection between Ligus and Trevaline Evans. Richard Evans died in 2015, aged 83. Trevaline’s younger brother Leonard Davies continues to hold out hope that his sister’s disappearance will be solved.
A new development in early 2019 saw the case re-opened once more when two brothers came forward with information that Trevaline had been murdered and her body buried. Acting on this confidential tip in March 2019, police searched Rhuddlan Golf Club in a bid to locate Trevaline’s remains. At 11:00am on Tuesday 19 March police began digging at the Rhuddlan site under the supervision of North Wales DS Tony Underhill, and the forensic officers used infa-red equipment to x-ray the floor of the bar area of the club. Once this was completed an officer remained at the site overnight. DS Underhill later told the reporters, “We received information suggesting the remains of a body may have been under the floor of Rhuddlan Golf Club. Having investigated these claims, we are satisfied that this is not the case. Our enquiries at this location are now completed. I’d like to thank the club for their cooperation”.
This new information had been provided to police by brothers Andy and Lee Sutton who believed Trevaline had been murdered and her body dumped at the Golf Club. The Sutton brothers claimed to have new “high quality” evidence to support their theory. Andy Sutton, who is from Wrexham, is a former chief auditor for Flintshire Council and told the media he and his brother Lee, who is from Kinmel Bay, had overheard information in February 2019 which seemed to indicated Trevaline Evans had been murdered and her remains buried in Rhuddlan. The brothers then visited the Golf Club and claimed they were given permission to inspect the underfloor using an inspection camera. They then immediately passed on that information to police, who conducted their own search the following month.
As a result of this incident, North Wales police referred the incident to the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) after the brothers complained about police handling of their information. The IOPC decided the matter would be investigated internally and Detective Chief Inspector Tim Evans of the Professional Standards Department said the complaint had been received and formally recorded. The brothers went on to call for an independent investigation into the search of the Rhuddlan Gold course, adding that, “Trevaline was a grandmother, mother and sister and both she and her family deserve justice and some degree of closure in this case.”