THE elderly couple who were accused of murdering their own son have spoken of the 'mental torture' they endured during the four-month long investigation.

Steven Clark disappeared in mysterious circumstances in 1992 while out on a family walk in Saltburn.

His parents, Charles and Doris Clark, were arrested when a cold case review was launched last September.

Yesterday, they received the news they had been longing for – the police had ruled them out as suspects.

The Northern Echo: Stephen ClarkStephen Clark

The couple, speaking in their Marske home, told how the investigation had impacted on their lives for the past 17-weeks.

Mrs Clark said: "We received a call a few days ago to say the police were coming to see us but we had no idea what for – it was like mental torture – they left us in limbo again.

"When they told us we were no longer under investigation we were elated – it was such a relief really."

The couple's life was turned upside down on December 28, 1992, when their beloved son went missing.

And it was turned upside down again when they were taken to a police station to be interviewed as suspects.

Officers from Cleveland Police carried out a full search of their property and the surrounding area.

Mrs Clark said: "They went through every room in the house, the dug up the garden and they moved the shed – it was terrible."

The couple hope that police will continue to search for Stephen so they can give him 'one last cuddle'.

And Mr Clark urged anyone with information to come forward and pass on any information that could end their heartbreaking wait to learn what happened to Stephen.

He said: "It has been horrendous for the last 17 weeks – it feels like a lifetime – but now it is over and we can start to move on."

Steven, who walked with a limp as a result of a childhood road accident, is said to have walked on the beach from Marske to Saltburn at around 3pm on the day he disappeared.

The missing persons report says that he went to use the gents' public toilets near to the pier on the promenade in Saltburn, when his mother went into the ladies at the same time.

Officers said he was not seen coming out of the toilets and the report says that he did not return home.

Mr Clark urged anyone with information to come forward and help bring the family some closure.

He added: "We are grateful now for the publicity we are getting as it might bring someone forward, it only takes one person to say something to the police.

"To know where he is and see again and give him a big hug."

The author of a anonymous letter at the centre of a murder investigation has been identified by police but the family have been kept in the dark about the author's identity and what the person was claiming to know about Steven's disappearance.

The Northern Echo: The letter sent to police in 1999The letter sent to police in 1999

The letter was received by police seven years after he disappeared and is believed to say who they claim is responsible for Steven's murder.

Mrs Clark said: "We have no idea who wrote and I guess we will never know now."

Throughout their ordeal the couple have had the full support of friends and the local community as they struggled to come to terms with the finger of suspicion being pointed at them.

Mrs Clark said: "We haven't made a big fuss of it. People have acknowledged us and said they are thinking of us. They have sent us cards and flowers – which was nice and it really has been a great help."

Announcing the decision to release the couple from investigation, Detective Chief Inspector Shaun Page said: "We are continuing to investigate Steven’s disappearance and people can continue to contact us with information.

"There is no proof of life and we believe Steven has come to serious harm, and the case continues to be classified as one of suspected murder.”

  • Anyone with information can call Cleveland Police on the non-emergency number 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111. Information can also be given through the Cleveland Police section of Major Incident Public Portal.