THE grieving relatives of York woman Lisette Dugmore have told of their heartbreak, after their four-and-a-half-year search for her ended in tragedy.

Police confirmed yesterday that the body found submerged in mud beside the River Ouse at Acaster Malbis last month was that of Lisette, who went missing in 2008, aged 36.

Lisette, pictured, had last been seen in July that year, in the Bootham area of York, but her family had never given up hope of finding her alive.

In a written statement yesterday, her sister Dion Smith said: “The last four and a half years have been unbearable. Not knowing what had happened to Lisette has had a profound effect on us all.

“Even now, it is very difficult to believe that we won’t be able to see or speak to Lisette again. We never gave up hope that she would be found safe and well. We are utterly heartbroken.”

The body was discovered by walkers on Sunday, January 13, following flooding on the Ouse. Since then, police forensic experts have carried out extensive tests to confirm the identity as that of Lisette.

Dawn Hunter, 34, one of Lisette’s friends who launched a poster campaign in 2010 to help find her, said: “It’s nice that she has actually finally been found, because her family and close friends can bring closure to her and lay her to rest. I think that is the nicest thing about it, that her parents are going to be able to put her to rest.

“Every day I’ve looked through The Press website and in the paper, wanting to see who it was. In my heart of hearts. I was hoping it was Lisette, just for her family and friends’ sake.

"It can be finalised now, that that is what happened to Lisette, but obviously it’s heartbreaking for her poor parents and sisters, brothers, neices and nephews. I think after the length of time it’s been though, it’s going to be nice for them to have closure.”

Detective Inspector Adrian Gathercole, who led the missing person investigation for York CID, said: “This is very sad news which, understandably, has left Lisette’s family deeply upset. The thoughts of all those involved in the search for Lisette are with her family and friends at this difficult time.

“This is not the outcome anybody wanted, but we hope that Lisette’s loved ones will take some comfort from being able to lay her to rest and remember happier times.”

Tragic timeline

July 6:
Lisette last seen on CCTV talking to a man in Bootham, after leaving her Peter Hill Drive home, days after falling and hitting her head in the street.

July 12: Details released of a 999 call received on the day Lisette went missing, from a man named Matt, who said he was concerned after encountering a woman in “a distressed state”.

September 11: Police forces around England and Wales asked to help in the search.

March 17: Police divers brought in to search the Ouse from York to the Humber Bridge.

July 6: A year on from Lisette’s disappearance, Dion said: “It’s the not knowing which is the worst thing, not being able to do anything -just being in limbo.”

December 9: Lisette’s family attend The Press’s Absent Friends carol service St Denys’ Church, in Walmgate.

April 7: Dawn Hunter and Jaedyn Taylor launch a poster campaign urging the public not to forget about Lisette.

April 24: Lisette’s sister Dion Smith said she believed Lisette was probably dead. “I feel that after all this time we do not think she is just going to walk through the front door,” she said.

July 6:
Third anniversary of Lisette’s disappearance passes with still no news.

2012: Fourth anniversary of Lisette’s disappearance. Dion tells The Press her parents Betty and Frederick “still expect her to walk through the front door”.

January 13: Body discovered in Acaster Malbis.

February 6: Police confirm it is the body of Lisette.