James Todd went missing in Gran Canaria in July last year just days after enrolling at a university there.
And two months later a body, believed to be James’s, was found in Guiniguada Ravine, a popular hiking spot.
A DNA match between the body and a razor found in the 46-year-old’s belongings backed a police theory that it was James and his ID was also found at the scene. But identification has yet to be completely ratified.
James’s 70-year-old mother Chris Keen and her husband Derek, 74, who live in Standish Lower Ground, have now been waiting an agonising 11 months for confirmation while police try to establish their family link using a swab taken from his grieving mother. And what actually happened to him also remains cloaked in mystery, although foul play appears to have been ruled out.
“It’s like I’ve opened a book in my mind and I can’t close it,” said Chris. “Another book will open when we go to Spain. There’s many days I don’t cry anymore but then it all comes flooding back.”
Chris was contacted by the British Consulate in Spain with the shocking news that human remains found were believed to be her son’s, but since then she has not been able to find out any more information because she has not been confirmed as his next of kin.
A letter sent to her in November said: “Whilst the National Police Homicide Unit is leading the investigation, it is believed that James’s death was accidental, however this will not be conclusive until the final post-mortem result is issued which can take up to three or so months in Spain.”
Following the initial contact, Chris waited four months for police to take a DNA swab to see if it matched that of the body, and since March she has not had the results.
She added: “I got a call in November. The police said the remains of a body had been found at the bottom of a ravine. It was impossible to take in.
“I tried to get a flight over but they wanted a couple of thousand. I would have been there a week on my own because of the cost. Through all this I’m getting worse not better.”
It is thought that James was in the country after selling his father’s house who died two years ago. Described as the “life and soul of the party” by Chris, James had a passion for travelling following a holiday with step-father Derek to Barbados.
Together Chris and Derek have sought help from Lisa Nandy, Wigan MP candidate, who they said “stepped on the gas” to help the distraught couple get some answers. Once Spanish police have ascertained that Chris is James’s mum, she will be granted permission to bury his body following another autopsy and an inquest.
However the couple, who are now both retired, would have to sell their house in order to pay the astronomical £50,000 fee to bring his body back.
“It still won’t bring James back,” said Chris. “I’m sure there’s thousands of couples in our position. We just can’t deal with the unknown.”
Once the post-mortem examination has been conducted, the pair hope to bring James’s ashes back to the UK.