Man arrested and Luton home searched in suspected murder investigation

Natalia and Gerald Doherty
Natalia and Gerald Doherty

A 71-year-old man has been arrested after police reopened a cold case into a woman who vanished on her way to Luton in 2003.

As part of ongoing investigations into the disappearance and suspected murder of Natalia Doherty, officers from the major crime unit arrested the man, from Scotland, on suspicion of assisting an offender and preventing a lawful burial.

He has been bailed until October.

Officers are also searching a property in Luton as part of their enquiries.

The last-known sighting of mum-of-three Natalia was in April 2003. She was 50 at the time she went missing and is presumed murdered.

It is known that she went to stay with her former husband Gerald Doherty in the Regents Arms in Hastings Street, Luton – which has since been demolished – near the time of her last confirmed sighting in Eastbourne, West Sussex, where she was living at the time.

The exact date she left Eastbourne for Luton is currently unclear, but police believe she left on or after 15 April. Gerald has since died.

Detective Sergeant Graham McMillan said: “This has been a complex 20-month investigation for our officers, who are committed to finding out exactly what happened to Natalia to bring anyone involved in her disappearance to justice, and to finally bring closure to her family.

“We are still focusing our enquiries on Natalia’s time in the Luton area in the days surrounding 15 April 2003. I would urge anyone who recognises her or her husband Gerald from their time at the now-demolished Regents Arms pub in Hastings Street to contact us on 101.”