Ten months ago Joseph Michael Shann walked out of a relative’s Leeds home to go for a drink.
This week murder squad detectives began to probe the mystery of his disappearance.
Relatives desperate for news of a son missing for nearly a year fear the worst and, together with police, have pleaded for help in finding him.
As fears mount for the 36-year-old, a familiar figure walking around Leeds city centre, police have stepped up investigations.
Joseph left his sister Tammy’s home in Ecclesburn Street, East End Park, where he had been staying, to go “for a few drinks” on December 10 and his parents and other relatives have not heard of him since.
Now, after months of inquiries by family and police, the West Yorkshire force’s top homicide and major enquiry team (HMET) is focusing on his disappearance.
Mr Shann, who was unemployed, normally lived at the multi-storey Scargill Grange flats in Burmantofts, but had been staying with Tammy for some weeks before he vanished.
A single man, his parents Joseph and Lorna were divorced years ago, and he has two other sisters – Kellie, 37, of Nowell Crescent, Harehills, and Natallie Shann – and a brother, Ryan.
When Joseph, known as ‘Little Joe’, failed to contact family over Christmas, they were not overly-alarmed as he had gone off unannounced for short periods before. They continued to keep a watchful eye on his flat where lights continued to shine.
But as time passed, the family became more concerned and reported his disappearance to police. In February, a woman friend of Joseph went to Millgarth Police Station and voiced concerns for his safety.
Officers forced an entry at his Scargill Grange flat fearing he had been taken ill, but Joseph was not there.
Sisters Tammy and Kellie, and Joseph’s aunt, Amanda Shann, told a reporter that Joseph was well known by many people in the city centre, including Big Issue sellers.
Amanda said he was a “very likeable chap”, much loved by his family, who had made many inquiries across the city, including distributing posters appealing for information in the Scott Hall and Meanwood areas. Though he had used heroin he had been “clean” for some time, she said.
Joseph had not been required to “sign-on” for his benefits at the Jobcentre over the Christmas period and after withdrawing a little over £100 cash at Barclays Bank on Vicar Lane, Leeds, on December 10, his next benefits were paid directly into his account.
Worryingly there have been no transactions of the account since and that money is untouched.
Tammy said Joseph had stayed with her for a few weeks and on the day her brother vanished he withdrew money to give to her for his board and to buy Christmas presents for her children.
“He is very well known. He enjoyed walking around Leeds and socialising,” she said. “We are absolutely mystified about what has happened to him and I just want him home. I love him to bits,” added Tammy.
Kellie said that on the day Joseph was last seen he had changed to go out for a few drinks. Before he left he asked Tammy, “Do I look OK” and then went out as normal.
“When we did not see him for weeks we became quite concerned. He is somebody who just does not vanish like that,” said Kellie. “The police came to us on Monday and told us nothing was coming back from their inquiries to find Joseph,” said Kellie.
Det Insp Martin Hepworth, from HMET, said: “We are concerned for Joseph’s safety and I ask people to look at the photograph and get in touch with us if they have information.
“Joseph’s family are understandably distressed by what’s happened and it’s very out of character for him to be out of touch for such a long time.”
People can contact the incident room on 0845 6060606 or anonymously through Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.
Joseph is white, about 5ft 6in tall, and slim with blue eyes and speaks with a local accent. He has his initials JS tattooed on his right shoulder.