A MAJOR search operation for a mum-of-three who went missing following a trip to the supermarket ended in tragedy yesterday (Wednesday) after the discovery of a body.
The body, believed to be that of Karen Simpson, of Elm Road, Burscough, was found in fields off Marsh Moss Lane on Wednesday morning.
Police said there were not thought to be any suspicious circumstances and a post mortem was due to be carried out.
A statement released yesterday said: “Very sadly, at around 10:30am this morning, the body of a woman was found in a field off Marsh Moss Lane in Burscough.
“The body is believed to be that of missing 31-year-old Karen Simpson who had not been seen since the weekend.
“Karen’s family have been informed and are being supported by specially trained officers. We would like to thank all the community for their overwhelming support and assistance during the searches for Karen.”
The 31-year-old, who had been suffering from post-natal depression, was last seen leaving the village’s Tesco store at around 11am on Sunday.
She had told family she was heading out to buy nappies for her baby daughter, born in November, and to “clear her head” – but never returned.
The disappearance of Karen – who also had two young boys – sent shockwaves through the tight-knit village.
Hundreds of volunteers, family and friends had taken part in the search for Karen, meeting each morning at Burscough Wharf.
Andy Lamb, a friend of Karen’s husband Phillip, allowed the search parties to use his M-Bark tapas bar at the wharf as an unofficial base, with local businesses donating refreshments and supplies.
A Facebook page appealing for her to come home had attracted more than 6,800 people, while volunteers had taken part in coordinated searches of footpaths, fields and gardens around the areas where she was last seen.
On Monday, they were joined by around 30 police officers on the ground, along with dog units, mountain search and rescue teams, underwater diving teams and a police helicopter.
Karen’s older sister Clair Dobrec flew in from Australia on Tuesday morning to join her other sister Paula Caunce in the search, and read out a statement prepared by the family pleading with her to come home.
She said: “We are devastated by Karen’s disappearance, which is very out of character.
“She has now been missing for over 48 hours and the whole family are extremely concerned for her welfare.
“Karen has been suffering from post-natal depression, for which she was receiving help and as such we are very concerned. The police and public have been searching for Karen and we are overwhelmed by the community support.”
Stretches of the canal and nearby railway lines were searched earlier this week and yesterday morning police led around 200 people in a fingertip search of Martin Mere and the surrounding fields. But not long after officers gathered volunteers together to inform them the search was being called off.
One of the volunteers who was taking part in the search said: “It’s just such a disappointing end. It’s an absolute body-blow. Everybody was still so upbeat up until she was found. That’s the hard part. What kept driving us on was to find her for the family and the kids. All our thoughts are with them.”
Earlier in the week Karrin Burrows, one of Karen’s close friends, said: “She is an amazing person. Karen is the life and soul of anything, she lights up a room. She is always there for everybody and loves her children – they are her whole world. For a community of this size, everyone is pulling together. “We just want her home safe.”