Mum's 'trauma' after man claimed to be son who's been missing for 32 years
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A mum has opened up about the 'traumatic' ordeal she faced when a man came forward to claim he was her son who had disappeared 32 years ago.
Ben Needham was just 21-months-old when he vanished from outside a farmhouse his grandfather was working on in Kos, Greece, in 1991.
His family, including his mother, Kerry, had just moved there that year for a new start, and while at first the family thought Ben was with one of his uncles, they soon discovered he had completely disappeared.
Police were called to investigate the situation, and the family came under suspicion as the search for Ben continued. Over the years there were two excavations of the farmhouse, but no physical trace of Ben has been found.
In 2016, South Yorkshire Police expressed belief Ben had died on the day he went missing in an accident with a digger driven by a local man, however the family of the man have denied the claim he was involved.
Speculation about exactly what happened to Ben has continued over the years, and as Kerry marked the anniversary of his disappearance today (24 July), she spoke to ITV about how a man had recently contacted her believing he was Ben.
Recalling her discussions with the man, Kerry said: "He had absolutely convinced himself that he was Ben. There were a lot of things that had happened in his life to make him think he didn't belong to the parents that had brought him up. It's an ordeal.
"After speaking with the guy over a matter of weeks I started to convince myself that he was Ben and I've been through this many, many times. It's traumatic.
"You kind of try to keep an open mind, but it's is so difficult when you are talking to somebody who looks very similar to Ben when he was small. It's very hard not to get involved with somebody like that."
The family carried out DNA tests with the man, and Kerry said the wait for the results was 'traumatic'. Unfortunately for her, the man was not her son.
"I try my best not to have personal contact with somebody, but then my guilty conscience eats away at me and I think, if he is Ben, then by me not talking to him I am rejecting him and I can't do that," Kerry said. "But at the end of the day when it turns out not to [be] Ben it's soul destroying."
The family is still 'fighting' to keep the investigation going and to find the truth, with Kerry explaining that in their minds, 'Ben is still a missing person'.
"Even though South Yorkshire Police came to their conclusion in 2016, we as a family have still not got any evidence to say that's what happened," she said.
Supporters of their cause have set up a TikTok account to help raise awareness of Ben's disappearance, and members of the family have shared their DNA to an ancestry website to allow people to compare their own for potential matches.
"We are always working really, really hard to find the truth," Kerry said.