Nineteen-year-old Eddie Gibson played rugby, tennis and football. He abseiled down the rock faces of Table Mountain in South Africa, liked to skydive, and his good looks made him popular with the girls, Jo Gibson-Clark recounted of her son in an interview Monday.
Eddie’s father, Mike Gibson, added: “He had this amazing charm about him. He would talk to anybody.”
When Eddie’s 22nd birthday passes on Jan 26, it will have been two years and three months since he was last seen alive in Cambodia.
“My son came to this country because he loved the country, he loved the people, he fell in love with it,” said Jo, who has returned this week to Cambodia on another quest to find her son.
A Web site, a telephone hotline, several press conferences and his parents’ five trips to Cambodia have so far failed to shed light on Eddie’s disappearance.
Both Cambodian and British police say his whereabouts remain a mystery.
Eddie’s parents announced a $20,000 reward for information leading to the safe recovery of their son at a press conference in Phnom Penh on Tuesday.
They say they are less interested in prosecuting the people responsible for their son’s disappearance than they are in simply learning what happened to Eddie.
“Was he murdered? Was he in pain? Was he crying out for his mum?” Jo asked. “It’s had a huge effect on all of us. Sometimes you just don’t have the energy to get out of bed in the morning,” she said.
Eddie’s father said they are hoping those with information will come forward.
“We’re not interested in putting people in prison. We just want to know what happened to him,” said Mike Gibson.
Knowing the truth would bring some measure of relief, Eddie’s mother added.
“At least you’re not constantly, desperately looking for answers about what happened to your son, which occupies your mind all the time.”
Since their last press conference in November 2005, Eddie’s parents now say authorities have interviewed two of Gibson’s closest friends in Cambodia and cleared them of suspicion.
And a team of four British police officers who spent 10 days in Cambodia in July last year learned nothing, Mike Gibson said, adding that they now fear the worst.
“Obviously as parents we hope that he is still alive,” he added.
Eddie, who has two brothers and two stepbrothers, entered Cambodia on Oct 9, 2004 and, after a two-day visit to Poipet town in Banteay Meanchey province, e-mailed his parents Oct 24 to say he would be returning home to England on Nov 1. He never arrived.
While in Cambodia, Gibson frequented The Heart of Darkness nightclub and stayed at hotels under an assumed name. His parents say several of his friends and acquaintances in Cambodia may have led unsavory lives.
“We thought originally that he’d been murdered up there [in Poipet] but we now think he spent his last days in Phnom Penh,” said Mike Gibson, adding that any notion of what has happened to his son is only speculation.
“It’s uncanny that we’ve traced absolutely every movement up to the 24th [of October 2004] and then it draws a blank,” he said.
In a statement released at the press conference Tuesday, anyone with information regarding Eddie has been asked to contact the British Embassy in Phnom Penh by calling 023-427-124, or Eddie’s parents by e-mailing them at [email protected].
All information will be treated in strict confidence.