Murdered Missing Unsolved

EP01 The Search for Georgina - DIY Detectives

March 06, 2022 Donal MacIntyre Season 1 Episode 1
Murdered Missing Unsolved
EP01 The Search for Georgina - DIY Detectives
Show Notes Transcript

Donal travels to Worthing to meet with Andrea Gharsallah, mother of Georgina, who has been missing since March 2018, to find out what prompted this family-turned-campaign-group, to reach-out and ask for help in the search for their missing loved-one.

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 **If you have any information regarding the Georgina Gharsallah case, please contact Sussex Police quoting ‘Operation Pavo’ or via Crimestoppers**

00:00 --> 00:08

Donal:              On the 7th of March 2018 Georgina Gharsallah left her home in Worthing and   vanished without trace.

00:09 --> 00:19

Clive Driscoll:    Every single case I’ve ever had where I’ve had success historically, there’s been a parent or someone who hasn’t allowed the police to forget it, hasn’t allowed the public to forget it.

00:20 --> 00:24

Petra:              We stop at absolutely nothing we’re not scared; we are not scared.

00:25 --> 00:27

Donal:              A mother’s journey to uncover the truth.

00:28 --> 00:32

Andrea:            I want answers I want to find out what happened, and I won’t stop until I do.

00:33 --> 00:37

Donal:              Murdered, Missing, Unsolved, The search for Georgina

00:38 --> 00:41


00:42 --> 01:01

Announcer:       Question number three from round three is, in which American city might you see a Broadway show? So, in which American city might you see a Broadway show?

01:02 --> 01:27

Donal:              The answer is New York… I’m in a Social Club in Worthing, a seaside town on the south coast of England. I’m Donal MacIntyre and I’ve been invited here tonight to meet a mother who has brought the local community together to raise funds to help in the search for her missing daughter. This is the first time I’ve met Andrea, her family, and her friend Petra, and I want to know more about them, their story, and what prompted them to reach out to me for help… 

00:32 --> 01:34

Donal:              So, just explain why we're here today.

01:35 --> 01:51

Andrea:            Um…. we're here tonight um…. at an event to help raise money towards the reward for finding information on what's happened to my daughter, Georgina, um…. so, we've got a raffle and a quiz night…. to you know fundraise.

01:52 --> 01:59

Donal:              So, you're fundraising for a reward? What's the situation with the reward now, and why do you feel you need to increase it?

01:02 --> 02:22

Andrea:            Um…. the Crimestoppers put up a reward, um…. for 5,000 pounds, but no…nobody came forward with any information, not… nothing at all. I appeared on Crimestoppers we didn't have a single phone call from that. Um…. so, you know, we're just hoping that if we can raise it, it might be more tempting to somebody.

02:22 --> 02:24

Donal:              And what's the figure that you have in mind?

02:25 --> 02:32

Andrea:            We're trying to raise 20,000 alongside with the police’s 5, so that would be 25.

02:33 --> 02:40

Donal:               What is the police's reaction to your attempt to try and take control of the reward dynamic? Because the current dynamic isn't working.

02:41--> 02:56

Andrea:            I have told... we have told the police that we're obviously fundraising. Um…. I haven't had a meeting with them, with the Chief, um about it, but he did in his email, he did mention about we need to discuss about the reward. 

Donal:              I want to reiterate the reason why we’re here in Worthing and how Andrea has found herself in the unenviable position of raising her own cash reward for information regarding her missing daughter. Georgina Gharsallah was 30 years old at the time of her disappearance on the 7th of March 2018.

                             A mother of two young boys, she was living at home with Andrea at the time, with her father and three sisters nearby. Now, we’ll get onto the details of Georgina’s last known movements and potential CCTV sightings in future episodes – but, in a nutshell, Georgina leaves home at around 9.30 in the morning, with plans to get her broken mobile phone fixed, and to go to the job centre. However, apart from two short pieces of CCTV – one confirmed and one still questioned – we know this with one hundred percent certainty; on the 7th of March 2018, Georgina Gharsallah walked out of a shop in Clifton Road, Worthing and has not been seen or heard from since.

                             On the 17th of March, St Patrick’s Day, having been unable to contact or locate Georgina, Andrea reports her missing to Sussex police. Since that time Andrea and her family have been frustrated by what they see as a catalogue of Police failures which have hampered the investigation into Georgina’s disappearance. Andrea, her family and friend Petra have been campaigning ever since to drive the investigation forward and to ensure their loved one is not forgotten. And so, in August 2019, with their frustrations boiling over, they contacted me, an investigative journalist, to look into the case and to support their search. At this point, Georgina has been missing for a little over 18 months – Andrea, who lives this nightmare every hour of every day can tell us exactly how long her daughter has been missing…    

02:57--> 03:00

Donal:              How many days now is Georgina missing?

03:01--> 03:03

Andrea:            Um…. 562, I think.

03:04--> 03:19

Donal:              How has it been for you? And here's 562 days missing, and the community is out in force here and your daughter's here and another daughter's arriving. How does this make you feel that you got the support of your community and your family, and extended community?

03:20--> 03:43

Andrea:            Um…we have had a lot of support from the community, um….and, and sort of people across the, the country and across the world, you know, we've got lots of people that follow us and sort of send us messages and support us and, you know, chat with us. Um….so there are a lot of, you know, it is nice to feel that people are supportive.

03:43--> 04:05

Donal:              We're down here because we think we can make a difference and we responded to the Twitter pleas, and we have Petra here who is going to be helping on the Facebook. Explain Petra what it means to you to, uh… support Andrea and the family in this search for answers. I mean, it's a, it's a quest, which it's so tragic, no family would ever want to be part of.

04:06 --> 04:59

Petra:               I have got three daughters myself, which is what prompted me to message Andrea and talk to her you know and help her basically. So, I initially just gave her some tips on you know how to go forward, and then I got a little bit more, a little bit more involved and, you know we are now…. it's a 24/7 thing, actually we talk sometimes at three in the morning about Georgina. So, um…. what it means for me is I just can't let this go now. I need to find the answers for Andrea and her daughters, and most importantly for Georgina's kids actually, um…. her two sons who are asking regularly where their mother is and when is she coming home? Because it's been a long time now.


05:00 --> 05:07

Donal:              Andrea, I mean, you've got a formidable team around you, but I mean, how do you cope?

05:09 --> 06:14

Andrea:            Petra always says that I don’t know how you do it. Um…. I just like, I live my daily life it's like on a roll and it's, um…. I'm doing things at night all through the night, I don't sleep that much, but I work nights as well, and I'm doing things while I'm at work and through the night, and then during the daytime, um… it's constantly, what can we do next…. what can we do next? And then I'll give suggestions to Petra, oh, what about this? What about if we do that? What about doing posters and do them there and post them here? And what about if we do set up this charity event? What about that suggestion to try and raise awareness? And what about if I run from here to, um…. Kent, you know, and I'm always telling her, I think I'll do that and to raise awareness and, um…. and it's just all day long. We don't have one day where we never talk about it, it is from the first thing in the morning until last thing at night. And then sometimes Petra will say, I'm going, I'm going to sleep now, and then she'll say, get, go to sleep and I'll say yes, and then I'll think I'm going to write a post or I'm going to see how much I can get posters for. And...

06:15 --> 06:36

Petra:               And then I wake can I just say, and then I wake up at, uh…. in the morning at half past six and I go straight on messenger every morning without fail to say, “good morning,” and I look, and I see on the page, she's been posting at three o'clock in the morning. She does not follow my advice to go to bed, of course, because you know, she's missing her daughter, so…

06:37 --> 07:01

Donal:              What impresses me is that, um… you're attacking this likely crime, this mystery, uh…. with a vengeance and without fear or favour. You're holding the police to account and supporting them where they need to, but, you know, kicking them also up the transom, as they say, when they have fallen short and we'll talk about this in the future, but you do seem to be just, unapologetically taking no prisoners in the search for your daughter.

07:02 --> 07:06

Andrea:            Yeah… It's my daughter, and I've got to find her whatever way, and that's whatever, whatever it is...

007:06 --> 7:07

Petra:               Whatever it takes.

07:08 --> 07:09

Andrea:            Yeah…

07:09 --> 07:20

Petra:               To be fair, we stop at absolutely nothing, we're not scared, we…. are not scared. We…. we identify people ourselves; we do the cop’s work, virtually, we are investigating ourselves.

07:21 --> 07:50

Andrea:            Sometimes I feel like we're doing, we're, we're, we're doing this investigation more because we find out things, someone mentions something to us, we research it and look into it and sort it. You're quite extensive at doing that, because Petra's very technical, I'm not, and we find out things and then, obviously, I have to pass it onto the police and then, it's like a few weeks before I say: “what have you done with that?” “Well… you know, haven't got to see them yet we’re still working out a way how we can get to talk to them” and I think just go and talk to them.

07:51 --> 08:03

Donal:              The fact that you’re now in the role nearly of prime investigators is distressing. On the other hand, you’re not on the clock, you’re not taking a holiday, you’re not taking a break, and you’re not on any  work schedules, so you know and um… 

08:04 --> 08:20

Petra:               Even while I was on holiday, we were in touch every day, and we talked about what next, what next. Andrea sometimes out of the blue, she goes, what next, what next, we are, that's how it is. She'll say, what's next, I say, let me have a think about it, and we just go.

08:21 --> 09:21

Donal:              And they do ‘just go’, as Petra describes. Since Georgina’s disappearance they’ve set-up social media campaign groups, candlelit vigils, they’ve arranged protests and even conducted their own searches doing everything they can to keep Georgina’s name in the public eye and you can’t help but be drawn into their world. In August 2019, Georgina’s investigation was reclassified from a missing person case to a homicide by Sussex police. You can only imagine the impact that must’ve had on Andrea and her family. But despite labelling this case as a likely homicide, a murder there’s no tangible evidence to confirm that this is the case and so no opportunity for Andrea to grieve or find closure. At the heart of this story is a family simply missing a daughter, mother and sister. Georgina’s three sisters are here tonight and I catch-up with the elder, Sara in the wind-battered car park, to hear the impact this living nightmare has had on her. 

09:21 --> 10:09

Sara:                 When you, when you talk about it, it’s kind of, like you feel like you're talking about someone else, and it doesn't really hit you. I mean, even till now, when we talk about it, it's like, we're talking about something on a film, you know, or on a TV, its…. you kind of… you don't think of it as it's happening to you. Like…. when you watch a programme or something, talk about... I don't know how to really explain it, like you block it out and don't think it's real, even when you talk about it, you don't think it's your family, and then some days when we sit down and like have time to yourself and it hits you and then you get upset and stuff, and then the next day you just wake up and pretend it's not happened. Again, it's just like a cycle.

10:10 --> 10:19

Donal:              When they moved it from a missing persons enquiry to a murder investigation, uh…. that’s quite a terrifying escalation.

10:20 --> 10:29

Sara:                 Yeah, yeah, I mean, when that happened, it…. I didn't wanna believe it, even then, I mean, I got upset and I had that thought about it and then I just blocked it out. I just don't want to think about it.

10:29 --> 10:33

Donal:              What do you think has happened do you think that she has been murdered, do you think there’s a chance you’ll see her alive again?

10:34 --> 11:47

Sara:                 …I mean I don't know how to really explain it, it's…. it's a constant up and down, it's like one time I think, well, something bad has happened to her because she's not the type of person to not contact us. She's very close to my mum especially she loves telling her everything, even if you know…. some really silly thing and she's at someone's house she'll message her, and, like she loves to say what's on her mind. I mean, we're quite a close-knit family, like we are, we do tell each other everything, we sort of do everything together quite a lot. So, if there's anything happening in our lives, we tell each other, we don't really hide it. I mean, even if we don't tell each other straight away, we always tell each other at the end, and I think Georgina's like that as well. So, I mean, for her to just disappear, it is really strange. It's just for this long length of time as well, I mean, it's very strange. 

11:47 --> 11:48

Donal:              But…

11:48 --> 00:11:48

Sara:                 And…

11:49 --> 11:58

Donal:              …. do you still hold out some hope maybe there's a rational explanation, she can walk in the door tomorrow or she may be found somewhere else, living a different life?

11:58 --> 12:27

Sara:                 Well, I hope so, but I mean, it's just hoping, I mean, I hope I'm wrong that all the bad things I'm thinking about that's happened to her are just me overreacting, mmm… that's it really…because it's a horrible thing. I mean, most nights we´re going to bed thinking, well what if this happened to her, what if this happened to her and um…. I put myself in her shoes and I get upset. 

12:27 --> 12:28

Donal:              Yeah…

12:30--> 00:12:36

Sara:                 I think you know I hope she does walk through that door and just put us out of this nightmare.

12:30--> 00:12:36

Donal:              This is kind of the first time we've had our very first recording session, talk about this, and I know for the audience, for the audience at home, um…. and that's the, we're outside...

12:51 --> 12:52

Petra:               It's a hand blower.

12:52 --> 13:07 

Donal:              Yes, it's a hand blower but for the audience at home we'll be, meeting up next week to get the full background to all of this and we need to start our journey. We wish we could be there for every missing person but for some reason uh…. you know your force of personality over Twitter um….

13:07 --> 13:08

Petra:               I am German, what can I say?


13:08 --> 13:13

Donal:              …your blitzkrieg over Twitter has come and knocked us over, uh…. and we're here and we are genuinely humbled to be here and privileged to be…

00:13:14 --> 00:13:18

Andrea:            Really, we’re really grateful…

00:13:19 --> 00:13:30

Donal:              …You know, invited into your world and whatever we can do, and as I say, we come with open hands and we'll do our very best, and I know anybody listening will be just saying, you know, any of our kids could be in this situation, you know…

00:13:30 --> 00:13:31

Petra:               Absolutely…

13:32 --> 13:34

Donal:              And um…. you know, so, but you're doing what any mother...

13:35 --> 00:13:55

Andrea:            But it never crosses your mind ever and it never ever, per…per… perhaps it does to you because you're in it aren't you? you're in that sort of, you know, sort of investigating things… so, it's probably… but it never crossed my mind before ever, even when I sort of read about it. And I suppose I just thought oh, someone’s missing and then I'm in it, and it's my…. it's become my life.

13:56--> 14:29

Petra:               I would like to say actually, I'm absolutely grateful that you have listened to my very persistent messages on Twitter, I’m absolutely amazed actually that you guys are on board and I'm, you know… I'm really, really, happy for Andrea. Not for me, for Andrea, for Andrea and her daughters, and most of all the boys, the boys, if you met the boys, oh mein God, they are just amazing.

14:30 --> 00:14:53

Donal:              Well…. I will say this to anybody who'll be listening to this eventually, uh…. on our podcast, will be with you and would love to be here in our position. We do have a certain skillset and we do have an opportunity first of all to publicise, and also… but also, to investigate so…. whatever we can do, but this is your journey and we're, you know, there's one goal in mind, let's find Georgina, let's find out what happened to her.

14:54 --> 00:14:58

Background music starts…

14:54 --> 15:12

Donal:              If you have any information regarding the Georgina Gharsallah case no matter how insignificant you may think it is please contact Sussex Police on 101 or in confidence via Crimestoppers who are offering a 10,000-pound reward.

14:12 --> 15:15

Pause with continuation of background music…

15:15 --> 15:32

Donal:              ‘Murder, Missing Unsolved’ is presented by me Donal MacIntyre and produced by Inherent Productions and Steve Langridge, music is by Alex Sayne and additional audio production by John Franklin Audio.