It is now more than a week since a “much-loved” midwife, Samantha Eastwood, was last seen leaving work at Royal Stoke Hospital in Staffordshire.
The alarm was raised when she failed to turn up for her 7pm night shift last Friday. She has not been seen or heard from since, which her family has described as “so out of character.” Police are treating her case as a “high-risk missing person” inquiry.
In the week since she disappeared, the national headlines have been dominated with “missing midwife” appeals for information. On Friday her sister, Gemma Eastwood, made a tearful appeal for help in tracing her the 28-year-old, who is described as white, approximately 5ft 3in, with shoulder-length ginger hair, brown eyes and a fair complexion with freckles.
Speaking to the press, her sister said: “We miss you very much, we need you home where you belong.” She said her missing sibling was “a happy, bubbly and smiley woman” and her “best friend and partner in crime.”
“Without her, half of me has gone,” she said. “She is caring, harmless and gentle. Samantha is selfless and would do anything for anyone before herself.”
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Police were handing out leaflets in Eastwood’s quiet residential street on Friday, asking people if had seen her vehicle on the day she went missing or any other suspicious activity.
Samantha Eastwood was last seen on CCTV, still dressed in blue hospital scrubs and carrying a green bag, leaving work and driving off alone in her Volvo XC60 last Friday at 7.47am.
Her car was found parked in the driveway of her home in Greenside Avenue, Baddeley Green, Staffordshire, with the keys still inside.
Detectives said they are aware of a report that neighbours heard “a scream” in the vicinity of Eastwood’s address at about 2pm on Friday.
A spokesman said: “It forms part of one of a number of theories and ongoing investigations,” but was unable to comment further.
Her Private Life
Eastwood had been in a relationship with John Peake, 34, and was engaged to be married last month, however their relationship ended in January and the wedding was called off. It is understood Peake moved out of her home at the start of the year.
Peake, who works for a steam train company, has since made several heartfelt pleas on social media for her return. On Friday, he urged his Facebook friends to “please get Sam home safely, we all miss her.”
Last week, her uncle Barry Eastwood told the Daily Mail: “Samantha was going to get married but it fell through. She went to Keele University and she went down to Staffordshire and met a lad there. He has been looking out for her. I am concerned about Samantha though, I have not seen her for a long time.”
Just three weeks before she vanished, Eastwood put her unused wedding dress up for sale on Facebook’s Marketplace for £400. The advert reads: “Bought in sample sale. Not worn, apart from being tried on in the shop. Size 14. In very good condition apart from a few loose threads and broken zip head (zip still works).” Her mother Carole Eastwood had shared the advert to her own Facebook page.
Does She Have Anything With Her?
Detectives say Eastwood left her bank cards at home and is believed to have “no access to money.” As well as her car, her house keys also remain at her home.
But though her bank cards are at her property, police have appealed for information about a missing purse. The Radley wallet is navy with a blue, pink and orange striped dog on the front, and has not been seen since she vanished last week. Police are unable to say what, if anything, was in the purse but have said it appears to be the only missing item belonging to her.
Detectives have been tight-lipped about whether they have recovered Eastwood’s mobile phone, adding the information is part of an “ongoing investigation”.
When asked about any recent use of social media accounts by Eastwood, detectives said this was also a matter being examined but refused to elaborate further.
The Whitby Connection
Officers had speculated that Eastwood may have travelled to Whitby, North Yorkshire, following a recent holiday there. Police there have shared the appeals for information.
Dept Supt Duffy said: “North Yorkshire Police have been involved because Whitby was an area she recently went on holiday.
“She was comfortable with the area, could go on her own accord, but there is now currently nowhere outside of north Staffordshire being searched.”
Have There Been Any Arrests?
A 32-year-old man from Stoke-on-Trent was arrested on suspicion of kidnap following her disappearance and has been bailed under investigation while enquiries continue.
The force’s major crime team was brought in earlier in the week to lead the investigation, and two addresses in Stoke have been searched, including Eastwood’s house.
Forensics officers have also been at a house three miles away in Cromer Road, Northwood.
One house reportedly visited by the police is the Stoke-on-Trent home belonging to the sister of Eastwood’s former fiancé, Katie Stirling and her husband Mike, both 32.
Next door neighbour, Doreen Nixon, 82, told The Sun: “Katie and Michael are really nice people. They went on holiday on Friday. But 20 minutes after they left, the police arrived. I last saw Samantha here about a year ago.”
Other locations are being searched, Dept Supt Duffy Duffy confirmed, although the police would not be drawn on where, adding that specialist teams and dog units were involved.
Detectives have asked the public to report any sightings of vehicles parked in “strange locations”, isolated areas, or lay-bys, no matter how inconsequential it may appear.
Police have also requested dashcam footage, and at least one resident on Friday was seen taking their camera over to officers patrolling the road where Eastwood lived.
Meanwhile, neighbours have been saying how they are hoping for the midwife’s safe return.
Elaine Kellett, who has lived next door to the midwife two years – but was on holiday last Friday – said: “She’s a very nice lady. It’s very sad and we miss her. We want her back.”