The family of an Irishwoman who has been missing in Portugal for over three years believe someone else was using her social media for months after she was last seen.
Jean Tighe was 38 years old when she was last seen outside a hostel in the Portuguese holiday resort of Parede in July 2020.
She was reported missing by people who were staying in the hostel with her, but her family was never informed.
Jean was a seasoned traveller who travelled solo all over the world and her family in Ireland only became concerned for her safety when she didn’t return home for Christmas.
On The Pat Kenny Show, Jean’s sister Leona said it was not unusual for her to travel without contacting her family – and she had been reassured that her sister was safe when she could see that her social media accounts were being used.
“At the time, I could go on WhatsApp and see that Jean was on WhatsApp,” she said.
“You could also see the green light on the Instagram page and we could see some posts on the Facebook page.
“So that was reassuring. I was thinking to myself, ‘That’s fine Jean is doing her own thing as always and she is active.”
Leona said the family no longer believe it was Jean who was using the accounts and now wants a full in-depth analysis of all her social media.
“Some friends of Jean’s actually did hear from supposedly Jean on Facebook Messenger and Instagram on or around September, October and through to November,” she said.
“So, whatever was going in with the social media needs to be investigated because there are huge clues there.
“We think it wasn’t Jean that was on the social media but whoever was on the social media now needs to come forward. That person needs to be found.”
The family now believe there is a “very big possibility” that Jean has come to some sort of harm.
“I can’t understand why, three years on, over 1,000 days since my sister disappeared, all the avenues are not being explored,” she said. “Why an open mind wasn’t kept at the very beginning.
“We don’t know where those people are that were staying in the hostel. We don’t think they are outside of Europe, my understanding is that they are not outside of Europe. I would certainly be looking for all these people to be reinterviewed.
“I also think a public media appeal, made out in Portugal to let local people know, my sister Jean Tighe disappeared from this area Pareda on July 13th, have you seen her? Did you see Jean, can you help us?
“That was never done, local people from the area were out in Pareda last week handing out flyers and they came across quite a significant amount of local people who never had heard that my sister Jean disappeared on Monday, July 13th 2020.”
Leona said the family are also concerned that Jean may have had some form of accident
“It is a possibility, God forbid, Jean had an accident or there was an acquired brain injury,” she said.
“Then, Jean is possibly on the streets of Europe somewhere or on the streets of Portugal somewhere – that would be a big concern. These things do happen; accidents do happen.”
Jean has only recently been added to the missing person’s database in Portugal and Leona said the family has not been able to get any information about the original police investigation into her disappearance.
They said they were “shocked to the core” when they learned that Jean had been reported missing in Portugal and nobody had thought to tell her family.
“I don’t know what the Portuguese police did at that time,” she said. “I cannot find out; we’ve never received that information.
“We’re looking for that information because something happened when the Portuguese police went to the hostel.”
Leona said Jean had booked a flight home for July 15th but she failed to board it.
Portuguese police went to the hostel on July 16th or 17th after people staying there reported Jean missing.
“The alarm bells were risen very early on by the people in the hostel because they said it was very unusual for Jean not to come back and they were concerned, they were worried for Jean,” said Leona.
“The Portuguese police came to the hostel and took statements, obviously, from everybody there and whatever information they gathered, they told us that Jean had gone off to start her own life, which was a very peculiar statement from the outset.”
"Jean hasn’t decided to go off on her own and live a different life,” she added.
“Jean was already living her own life. Jean was already living the life that she wanted to live.”
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