Karen Downes says her daughter Charlene Downes' disappearance 20 years ago was a 'terrible learning curve'

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The parents of Charlene Downes say it would ‘mean everything to finally have closure’ after 20 years of not knowing what happened to their daughter.

Karen Downes, now 58, said she is ‘hoping and praying for justice’ but will never get over the loss of Charlene.

Speaking on the anniversary of her daughter’s disappearance, Karen said: “Every time I see a young girl I look into her face and think it's Charlene. But then I think now she's 34 years old, so what would she look like now? I still think of her as 14.”

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Desperate for closure and to find the perpetrators

Karen and her husband, Bob Downes, were living on Buchanan Street, in Blackpool, when Charlene vanished on 01st November, 2003.

Two decades on, they say they are desperate to ‘find the perpetrators’. However, they feel it’s unlikely that their daughter could still be alive.

She added: “I’d have thought by now if there was even any glimmer of hope of her being alive there would be something - some way of knowing through the National Insurance, DSS, or through the hospital or dentist.”

Frightened for her grandchildren

Karen tells her grandchildren that ‘Auntie Char-Char’ has gone to heaven, doing everything to keep her memory alive.

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She says it ‘frightens [her]’ that something bad could happen to the little ones when they reach their teenage years, but admits that she was ‘naive’ and used to see ‘everybody as a nice person’.

“This has been a terrible learning curve for us, what happened to Charlene. We have more knowledge of the terrible things happening. [Our daughter is] very, very protective of the children. She takes them everywhere, they are not allowed out on their own. She's very very protective.”

‘We've all been cleared of any wrongdoing, so they can say what they want’

Karen also addressed some of the online trolling she receives, in relation to her daughter’s disappearance. She admitted that it’s ‘upsetting’ to see nasty comments but she tries hard to ‘rise above it’.

“I know we haven't done anything wrong and I just say to them, if for one minute I thought we'd done anything wrong, we wouldn't be here now. We've all been cleared of any wrongdoing, so they can say what they want. I don't like it and it's upsetting but I'm you know big enough and strong enough to rise above it.”

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The Downes’ family are holding a memorial service at Saint John's Church in Blackpool, to commemorate the 20th anniversary of Charlene’s disappearance.

There will also be a dove release after the service.

Where can I watch the new Charlene Downes documentary?

A brand new and exclusive feature documentary about Charlene Downes, presented by Blackpool Gazette reporter, Lucinda Herbert, which will air on Shots TV (Freeview 276).

The documentary about Charlene Downes will premiere at 8:05pm, on Wednesday Nov 01, 2023 as part of an evening of True Crime on the channel.

It will also be available to watch online at this link.

Blackpool Gazette reporter, Lucinda Herbert attempts to find out what really could have happened to Charlene and why, after two decades, nobody has ever been brought to justice.