While a man has been charged with Sandra Collins’s murder, her family still do not know where she is. They have accepted that she is no longer alive, but 12 years on, they have nowhere to grieve. Sandra Collins was 29 years old when she was last seen on December 4, 2000.
To look forward to the funeral of a loved one runs against the norm, but the Collins family long for such a day. Long to be able to do something as simple as lay a wreath on her grave.
Unless Sandra’s body is found, the 12 years of torture and limbo will continue. It is hard to comprehend how difficult their lives have been.
“We just want her body back,” Sandra’s brother Patrick said after last Friday’s court. “Every time I see a funeral pass I think: ‘hopefully that will be us next time’.
“When I say we would love a funeral, people might think that’s strange, but at this point we have accepted things. If we found her I would cry with tears of happiness and joy that it was over.”
The family have done everything in their power to find answers. Since Sandra’s disappearance, they have issued numerous appeals for information. It is believed that one such appeal, on the tenth anniversary of Sandra’s last sighting, helped set in train events that led to Martin Earley being charged with her murder on Friday last.
The Collins family were at Ballina District Court before 10.30am on Friday. While they were relieved that such a breakthrough has been made that someone has been charged, it is only one potential step towards closure for them.
Speaking to local and national media after the court, Patrick Collins said it was ‘a difficult day’ but was relieved it had arrived.
“Sandra is at the forefront of our minds every day,” he said. “She was so dignified, such a lady. We were never going to give up on her. They’ve (the Gardaí) been fantastic. They never gave up. The amount of support we’ve had from people, we can never thank them enough. People who never knew Sandra, up and down the country, who were praying for Sandra … If there’s such a thing as Heaven then Sandra is looking down on us.”
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