A year has passed since 19-year-old British national Eddie Gibson went missing in Cambodia, and his family and police are no closer to finding out what happened.
At a joint news conference with the Cambodian National Police and the British Embassy on Wednesday, Eddie’s father, Mike Gibson, reviewed his son’s last known activities and appealed to the public to come forward with new information.
“We are determined to find out what has happened to Eddie,” Gibson said. “Someone must know what happened to Eddie.”
Gibson last heard from his son on Oct 24, 2004, when Eddie sent an e-mail saying he would return from his month in Cambodia on Nov 1, 2004, on a flight from Bangkok to London’s Heathrow Airport.
He never arrived.
Since then, the Gibson family has made four trips to Cambodia in search of Eddie.
The family has set up a telephone information hotline and a Web site and has held vigils in their home city of Brighton and Hove on the South Coast of England.
A family friend and Phnom Penh resident, Kyffin Lloyd Roberts, has manufactured dozens of florescent orange plastic bracelets imprinted with “Where Is Eddie” and www.eddiegibson.net, which he handed to those in the audience.
“This has been a really horrific time,” Gibson said, pausing to regain his composure and wipe his eyes.
Immigration Police Colonel Nov Leakhana said national police are conducting an ongoing, countrywide investigation into Eddie’s disappearance, but could provide no details of what exactly that operation entailed. He could not say how many officers are involved in the case or give an estimated timeframe for solving it.
He added that British police would not be invited to help in the investigation concerning their missing citizen.
“If there is information to share we will cooperate with the British Embassy, not the British police,” Nov Leakhana said by telephone after the conference.
Richard Gumbrell, another friend of the Gibsons, who traveled to Cambodia for the conference and to help in the search for information, said that he and the family hoped Cambodian authorities would invite British police to join the search.
He said the more people who are looking for Eddie, the better, adding that British police might be efficient in gathering facts.
Julia Shand, Vice Consul to the British Embassy, said she could not comment on the Cambodian police’s not having invited the British police. But she added that British police are aware of the case and are providing assistance to the family.
Eddie’s Cambodia trip began Oct 6, 2004, when he flew to Bangkok and traveled to Poipet after dropping out of Leeds University.
This was his second time in Southeast Asia, following a gap-year trip months before.
On Oct 9, he traveled to Phnom Penh with a new friend—a Cambodian man whose name Gibson and police asked not be disclosed.
The two went to the now-closed Heart of Darkness nightclub, where Eddie made another new friend—a Cambodian woman named Ami. The three spent the following two weeks together, frequenting the Heart of Darkness, the Temple Bar and the Pink Elephant Pub.
On Oct 13, Eddie checked into New York Hotel on Monivong Boulevard under the name Mickey Dellar, and paid for two rooms—one for himself and Ami, and another for an unidentified Cambodian couple.
At some point during his time in Phnom Penh, Eddie also traveled to the funeral of Ami’s father in Sihanoukville—a video recording of which captured Eddie’s image.
On Oct 19, 2004, Eddie and his male Cambodian friend rented motorbikes in Phnom Penh and drove to Poipet. They returned to Phnom Penh two days later in a taxi.
Gibson said he may find new information when he travels this Friday to Battambang province and Poipet, to hang “missing” posters and visit guesthouses and hotels where Eddie is said to have stayed. “I’ve not been there before, but we know there are a hell of a lot of people Eddie met in Poipet,” he said.
Of his hopes for the investigation Gibson said: “I’m not sure speculation is very helpful. We need hard facts. We are prepared for the worst.”