The 20th anniversary of Arlene Fraser’s disappearance should be about her memory rather than about her killer husband, her loved ones said today.
Arlene, 33, went missing from her Elgin home on April 28 1998 – triggering a criminal investigation that took 14 years to resolve.
Two decades on, the mum-of-two’s body has never been found.
Husband Nat was jailed in 2012 for Arlene’s murder and will spend at least 17 years behind bars.
To mark the anniversary, Arlene’s brother-in-law Steve Gillies has paid tribute to her – and has said he wants the day to focus on what a wonderful woman she was.
“For the family, it is a difficult time, but we try to focus on the positives, not the negatives,” said Mr Gillies.
He added: “We very much want the day to be about remembering Arlene, not about Nat.”
Mr Gillies is married to Arlene’s sister, Carol, 55, and he said today will be a very meaningful day for him and his wife.
He said: “We will mark the day in our own, private way, with other members of his family – the way we have marked the anniversary in previous years.
“I don’t want to go into details – it is something that is for the family.”
He added: “Arlene’s memory has not been diminished for us 20 years on – she still means an awful lot to us after all this time.
“All special occasions are difficult for us – birthdays, Christmas and anniversaries of her disappearance, but this 20th anniversary is particularly difficult.
“We want the anniversary to be about what a lovely person she was.
“Above all, she was an absolutely fantastic mother.
“It is fair to say that, when she was younger, people would not have said she was going to be a great mother, but she was.
“Arlene was absolutely devoted to her kids.
“She would do anything for her family and would never have thought about leaving her children. That is out of the question.”
The case was the largest investigation Grampian Police had ever carried out.
Mystery and intrigue has surrounded the case, which has been the subject of two television documentaries and several books.
In February 2000 – almost two years after Arlene’s disappearance – her husband Nat, now 59, admitted to assaulting her before she went missing.
The couple met in 1985 and got engaged the following year before getting married in 1987.
Fraser was jailed for 18 months for that offence and came out of prison in November 2000.
It emerged in court that Arlene was planning to leave her husband and that this was a possible motive for him to harm her – but a work colleague gave Fraser an alibi for the day she went missing.
There was a further twist in February 2001 when a friend of Fraser’s was jailed for a year for attempting to pervert the course of justice.
That was because the friend concealed the whereabouts of a beige Ford Fiesta that detectives investigating Arlene’s disappearance wanted to find. The friend had told police the car had been crushed.
Two months after his sentencing, Fraser was jailed for a year for fraud.
He had lied to obtain £18,000 in legal aid during his assault trial.
Then in June 2001, Fraser and a friend were charged with conspiracy to murder Arlene.
It would take until the start of 2003 before those legal proceedings ended. Fraser was found guilty of murder and jailed for life. The friend was cleared of all charges.
However, the story did not end there.
In 2006, Fraser launched an appeal against his conviction and was freed pending an outcome, though he was sent back to jail 18 months later. Fraser’s appeal was rejected in 2008 – but the Supreme Court ruled his conviction unsafe in 2011 and a second trial took place.
In May 2012, Fraser was again convicted of murder, on the grounds that he arranged for someone else to kill his wife.
He has consistently denied killing his wife and Arlene’s loved ones have spoken previously accusing others of having involvement in the case. He has vowed to clear his name.