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12 March 2015, 05:52 | Updated: 12 March 2015, 05:56
Police say the disappearance of a Dewsbury man is now being treated as murder.
Bruce Roger Gapper, was 40-years-old when he was reported missing on Tuesday, 16 March, 1999. A number of appeals for information have been made over the years but no further sightings have been confirmed after 1.30pm on Sunday, 14 March, when he was seen outside his home in Groves Hall Road, Dewsbury Moor by a neighbour.
West Yorkshire Police are treating his disappearance as suspicious and are dealing with it as a murder inquiry. The charity Crimestoppers has offered a reward of up to £5,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of any person or persons responsible for the murder of Bruce Gapper.
Detective Chief Inspector Mark McManus, of West Yorkshire Police's Homicide and Major Enquiry Team, said:
'From what we know of Bruce, he was a hard-working man who was close to his family and spoken highly of by his neighbours but someone who generally kept himself to himself.
"Bruce was reported missing after he failed to turn up for work on the morning of Monday, 15 March, 1999. This was completely out of character for him. Of even more concern was the lack of contact with his family after the morning of Sunday, 14 March, and that no arrangements had been made for his cat who he would get someone to feed even if he was going to be late home from work.
"The last confirmed sighting of Bruce was at 1.30pm on the Sunday when a neighbour saw him unloading shopping from his car. A friend called at his house later that afternoon and received no answer. When his house was later searched by officers a half-eaten sandwich and nearly full drink were found, suggesting that Bruce may have left the address in a hurry.
"Bruce's car was found by a member of the public on the Monday morning at the junction of Castle Hill Side and Lumb Lane, near the Castle Hill Monument in Huddersfield. A witness has told us that the vehicle was not parked there at 11.30pm the night before so we know it has been driven there sometime after that.
"His bank card was used on a number of occasions after he was last seen, firstly in Heckmondwike, then in Scarisbrick, just outside Southport; and finally in the Morley area. We believe these may have been fraudulent uses by someone other than Bruce.
"We understand that Bruce was a creature of habit and that his social life centred on the Frontier nightclub in Batley which he routinely visited every Saturday night, including the weekend he was last seen. He was well known among the community who regularly attended the venue and had associates there who lived in the Kirklees and Wakefield areas. We believe it is among this community that answers may be held about what happened to him 16 years ago.
"There's no doubt that Bruce's disappearance will have been spoken about at the time by those who knew him. Over the years it may be that allegiances have changed and that someone who did not feel able to speak to the police at the time is now able to do so.
"At the heart of this is a family who have spent the last 16 years not knowing what has happened to their son, brother and uncle. I would urge anyone with any information, however small it may seem, to come forward."
Wendy Dixon-Gapper, Bruce's sister, added: "As a family we just want some closure. It is especially upsetting for my father who's now 90. He was 75 at the time when my brother disappeared and he doesn't want to depart this world without knowing what happened to him.
"It would've just been Bruce's 56th birthday and it's days like that that bring it all back. We would appeal to anyone who knows anything to please come forward."
Anyone with information is urged to call West Yorkshire Police's Homicide and Enquiry Team on 101 or independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or via a secure online form which can be found on the Crimestoppers website at www.crimestoppers-uk.org. Only information provided to Crimestoppers will be eligible for the reward, which is in place until 5 June, 2015.
Timeline of events leading up to and following Bruce Gapper's disappearance:
Sunday, 14 March, 1999
2.30am - Bruce Gapper leaves the Frontier nightclub in Batley.
11.10am - He speaks to his father on the phone.
1.30pm - He is seen by a neighbour unloading shopping from his car.
3.30pm - A friend calls at Bruce's property and there is no answer.
11.30pm - A member of the public walking in the Castle Hill Monument area later confirms that Bruce's car, a red Peugeot 309, registration number G199AHP, was not parked up at location at this time.
Monday, 15 March, 1999
3.47am - Bruce's bank card is used at a ATM in Heckmondwike.
6.30am - Another member of the public finds Bruce's car with partial internal fire damage parked at the junction of Castle Hill Side and Lumb Lane, Huddersfield.
7am - Bruce fails to turn up for work at Dukes Transport in Huddersfield.
Tuesday, 16 March, 1999
1.18pm - Bruce is reported missing.
Wednesday, 17 March, 1999
2.49am - Further use of Bruce's bank card at an ATM in Scarisbrick, just outside Southport.
Thursday, 18 March, 1999
Third and final use of Bruce's bank card in the Morley area.