Date: 26 Oct 1996
Place: New Bank Street, Longsight
Zoe Simpson vanished on 26 October 1996.
She had lived with her boyfriend and two young children in New Bank Street in Longsight.
After she first went missing it was thought that she had gone off somewhere because she was suffering from post-natal depression after the birth of her son eight months earlier. It was also noted that she had been on medication at the time.
However, in March 1997 the police said that they thought that she had been murdered and they dug up the garden at the place where she had been living in New Bank Street which was described as a mess, being covered with scrap metal including old washers and boilers belonging to her boyfriend who was a scrap dealer.
Although they found nothing, her boyfriend was later arrested on suspicion of her murder in August 1997.
Zoe Simpson and her boyfriend had met when Zoe Simpson was 16. Zoe Simpson was the daughter of a design engineer and her family had at first been against her relationship with her boyfriend with whom she had lived with in a tent at one point.
The boyfriend was noted as having had a number of run-ins with the police, both before and after Zoe Simpson vanished. He was said to have drunk to excess and to have used drugs and to have had criminal convictions for public order offences.
It was noted that Zoe Simpson had inherited £65,000 in 1993 after her father died and had spent about half of it buying the house that she lived in with her boyfriend in New Bank Street. It was also heard that she had a will of her own which she had changed the year before she had vanished.
When the police arrested her boyfriend, they said that they suspected that he had killed her and then hidden her body in a scrap appliance such as a fridge or washing machine and then had it destroyed at a car shredding plant.
After he was arrested, the boyfriend became highly agitated and distressed and had to be sectioned under the Mental Health Act. However, the boyfriends mother said that she blamed the police for his breakdown.
When he was questioned, the boyfriend said that Zoe Simpson had simply run away.
It was heard that their relationship was volatile, and her boyfriend had been the last person to see her alive.
It was noted that Zoe Simpson would stay at home and look after their children while her boyfriend went out to work, but that she had begun to feel isolated and had no friends. It was also heard that she had run off one time after an argument and had been picked up by the police and returned home to New Bank Street. It was also heard that she had on occasions felt suicidal and was known to have attempted suicide on two occasions.
After the birth of their second child, Zoe Simpson suffered from post-natal depression and had gone to see her doctor about it which was said had helped. However, she didn't go again, and someone called the doctors clinic a few days before she went missing to say that she was sick, but it was not known who had made that call.
When the police questioned the doctor, he told them that Zoe Simpson had complained that her boyfriend had been violent towards her and that she was afraid of him.
However, after the boyfriends arrest the police released him, saying that they didn't have enough evidence, but said that he was still their main suspect.
In April 2000 the police said that a man told them that they had seen the boyfriend at a car shredding plant in Stoke, about 50 miles away from where they lived, and it was suggested that he might have hidden Zoe Simpson's body in a car there and scrapped it.
The shredding machine at the time the police went to look at it had been out of use. It was a German made machine that separated metal from plastic, with the remains going into a slurry tank which was said to have contained the remains of countless vehicles that had previously been processed by it. The police used archaeologists to search through the remains and thought that they found evidence of bone and teeth material, but it was later found that the particles were probably pieces of old spark plugs after they were analysed with DNA techniques.
The boyfriend later spoke to the press about Zoe Simpson's disappearance, saying that he thought that she was still alive, and said, 'Who says she is dead? To me she’s just a missing person. Where’s the proof that she’s dead? How can they honestly say that she’s dead, that she’s been murdered? They don’t know this. They know as much as I know'.
The boyfriend later died in 2012, aged 45.