In June 2005 Louise Tume (18) was reported missing after leaving the care system and being set up in a flat in Hurworth village in Darlington, Islington. The last known contact from her was a call from a payphone to her younger sister Rebecca who was staying with a foster family. On the call, Louise told her sister 'Becky it's me, I'm ok.' That call happened in 2006.
At the time Rebecca didn't understand the call but it was then revealed to her that Louise had gone missing and she had not been told because she was taking her GCSEs and social services didn't want to worry her. Since that day Rebecca has done everything in her power to find her sister Louise.
Louise grew up in a household where there was abuse from her father. She has two siblings, a brother with additional needs and a younger sister Rebecca. As the sibling's mother became unable to look after the children, they ended up staying with their father, before Louise was put into foster care. A year later her siblings were also taken into care, but all three were in different placements.
Louise did not have a positive care experience and she would often run away from the group homes she'd been placed in. Every time she ran away it was to see her mother, and one occasion to confront her father over the abuse. The siblings would occasionally get to see each other, sometimes with their mother too. Once Louise turned 18 she 'aged out' of the foster care system and social services set her up in a flat in Islington, London. It was from there that she was reported missing.
Not much is known about Louise's comings and going or life around that time however Rebecca told the Islington Gazette that "the police said to me she was among the wrong sort of crowd and not very nice people. She was involved with different groups of dangerous, high-risk people. I think she has passed or is being held, as sad as that sounds - she put herself at risk."
On the Missing Podcast Rebecca revealed that she had been given a suitcase belonging to Louise that had been found in her flat. In it was a letter from Lee James. The letter was addressed to Louise and had been sent from HMP Wormwood Scrubs in West London.
"I hope you are doing well and that you are staying away from London... I do not want you having anything to do with your old way of life," the letter read. Rebecca said she feels the letter infers that "there was something going on in London" and that "there were high-risk people that she [Louise] should not have been around."
Rebecca also found a contact book in Louise's suitcase where the number for a restaurant had been written down. "Years ago, when she was living at this flat, her family support worker had come out to see her and she had taken her to this restaurant," said Rebecca.
"These guys were not particularly good men, apparently. Social services had told me this. My family support worker thinks they were trafficking young girls."
Sadly, Louise was a very vulnerable person having no stable family base and having had a disruptive childhood and adolescence. People with similar backgrounds can become 'easy prey' for predators looking to groom and or influence young women for nefarious purposes. It can also make these vulnerable people feel isolated and make it hard for them to form 'normal', healthy relationships and make them more easily influenced by 'bad' people.
Because of this, I believe that the most likely theory is that Louise was somehow involved with bad people who took advantage of her in some way. As Rebecca fears she may have been trafficked, backed up by the fact that she left everything behind in her flat. She was also not heard from for almost a year before making the call from the payphone to her sister telling her she was ok. As the call immediately ended after saying those words I believe she may have been escorted to make that phone call. Perhaps this was the traffickers/kidnappers' attempt to make it seem that she was not in fact missing.
I believe a key piece of missing information is the identity of the person who had written to Louise from prison. The tone and contents of the letter made it seems as though the two knew each other and had been previously communicating. In the Missing podcast Recebba revealed that 'Lee James' had revealed in the letter that he would be released soon if he could behave himself. Could Lee James have been released from prison and met with Louise? I believe that of all the potential lines of inquiry, finding out the letter sender's true identity could lead to information.
Respecting the privacy and dignity of family members is crucial which is why no non-released information or imagery has been included. However, I do believe that it could be useful for photos of both Rebecca and their mother to be shown. This is because if Louise is still out there she may look very different from the photos that have been released - after all she was only 18 at that time. So releasing images of close female family members could potentially help is narrowing down what Louise could look like now aged 35.