SOMEONE must know where the body of grandad Robert Hutchinson is, say police searching for the Sunderland man.
As the search for the 57-year-old, from Hendon, enters its seventh week, officers say someone knows the truth of what has happened to him.
Yesterday police retraced his last known steps, and despite there being no body found, the senior investigating officer, Detective Chief Inspector Christina Barrett said she believes he is dead – but his disappearance remains a mystery.
A £3,000 reward has been offered by charity Crimestoppers for information in connection with the investigation.
DCI Barrett said: “He had put petrol in his car and stocked his fridge up.
“He’s got a family. He’s left his house and disappeared. There is no sign, no trace of him. It’s totally unexplained.
“We seriously believe, unfortunately, that ill harm has come to him and we are treating it as a murder.”
There has been no sign of Mr Hutchinson since he left his house, at 57 Corporation Road, at 6.20pm on Monday, June 23, in his blue Nissan Micra.
The last images of him were captured on a CCTV camera at Asda in Leechmere Road two hours before he disappeared, as he was filling his car with petrol.
His car was later found abandoned in Stewart Street, just off Chester Road in Eden Vale.
Police believe it was left there some time between 10pm that evening and 6am the following morning. It is not known whether Mr Hutchinson drove there himself, or if a third party dumped the car – registration CT03 0ZJ – in an area to which he has no ties.
DCI Barrett added: “Somebody out there knows what’s happened and I appeal to them to help us with this investigation. He had no reason to disappear.
“He was in good health for his age, he had no worries, but he left without his possessions.
“It is totally out of character and he is a well-known man in the Sunderland area. He has a large family and a lot of friends and associates. We hope to pick at people’s conscience. We really, really need the public to come forward.
“If people don’t want to contact police, which we would urge them to do, they can ring Crimestoppers if they wish to be anonymous, and still be eligible for the award”
On July 16, two men were arrested on suspicion of his murder and have since been bailed.
Police can be contacted on 101 ext 69191 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.