Neighbours have described William and Patricia Wycherley as reclusive - so reclusive that they could vanish without trace and their absence could go unnoticed and unreported for 15 years.
Now, following the discovery of two bodies in the garden of their Forest Town home, police have launched a murder inquiry - and say they believe the bodies to be those of the elderly couple.
People living in Blenheim Close have told Chad that they knew the couple, known as Pat and Bill, to nod a good morning to, but they never socialised and nobody was ever invited into their home.
But they appeared inseparable - taking a daily stroll into Mansfield town centre to buy groceries at 2pm each afternoon, and returning at 4pm.
They made an odd sight, neighbours told the Chad - her very tall with long grey hair, him short and frail with shoulder-length white hair.
Then their routine changed. Mrs Wycherley seemed to disappear and neighbours watched her older husband taking a solitary walk each day - leaving and returning at exactly the same times.
Then one day the house was empty. No for sale board ever went up and neighbours assumed that the couple, who moved to Forest Town from London in 1987 had simply moved on.
Some say they were told by Mr Wycherley, if ever they spoke to him in the street, that the couple were planning to more to the Lancashire seaside town of Morecambe. Others reported that they had heard that Bill and Pat had emigrated.
But all the neighbours spoken to by Chad said the same thing - that the house had sat empty for a long time, maybe as long as seven years.
There was movement - a young couple came to the property on a regular basis to tidy the garden.
And when new owners eventually moved in, neighbours told Chad that a lot of the Wycherley’s possessions were still inside the house, seemingly abandoned.
The mystery deepened when it emerged over the weekend that a relative had received Christmas cards from the pair as late as 2009.
One resident, who asked not to be named, said: “They made for a funny couple, very quiet and very reclusive.
“She was a very large woman - really tall with long grey hair. She must have been 6ft tall and she towered over her husband.
“He was quite a lot older - a small, quiet man with white hair that wend down over his collar.
“You never saw any movement in the house and at night blinds were always drawn so you couldn’t see inside.
“I saw them one day and they told me that they were planning to move away to Morecambe but I didn’t ask why. Then I’d see him walking past on his own and I wondered if she was unwell. Then his walks stopped and the house was empty.”
Then last week the old couple were forced back into the forefront of everyone’s mind when, following information from an undisclosed source, police descended on the Blenheim Close address and unearthed the skeletal remains of two people, buried in the back garden.
The house was cordoned off while forensic examinations took place and a police tent was erected over the graves while scene of crime officers scoured the grounds for clues.
Then the media descended - the Chad was first at the scene, revealing exclusively last week reports that the Wycherley’s had vanished one day back in 1998.
Then came the BBC and other local reporters from the press, radio and television - followed by the big guns at ITN and Sky, with camera crews and satellite trucks.
Other neighbours have also spoken of their shock.
Carol Aram, from Blenheim Close, told Chad: “If I’d known they were in difficulty I would have tried to help or support them.
“I’m really shocked - to think that something like that happened so nearby is very upsetting.”
Andrew Bembridge (24), from nearby Acacia Court, said: “It’s a real shock. You don’t expect something like this to happen around here.
Kelly Turner (20) lives on neighbouring Farrendale Close and can see the crime scene from her upstairs windows.
She said: “An elderly couple used to live there but I didn’t know them. This is just mad.”
From the outset it was suspected that the remains were those of Bill and Pat, but that suspicion was confirmed yesterday at a press conference called by the East Midlands Major Crime Unit, who are now running the investigation.
Det Chief Insp Rob Griffin from the unit confirmed that they are treating the case as murder and that they believe that the remains are those of the ‘reclusive’ couple who ‘vanished’ a decade-and-a-half ago.
The current home-owners are not linked to police investigations.
He said: “The circumstances in which the bodies were found have led us to launch a murder inquiry.
“Neighbours have described the Wycherleys as a reclusive couple who kept themselves to themselves and had few friends.
“They were never reported missing and we can find no trace of them - either living or dead. The discovery in the garden last week may be the reason why. I am confident that the remains discovered are those of William and Patricia.
“I would ask anyone who knew Bill and Pat back in the 1990s to come forward and speak to us, so we can start to paint a picture of their lives in the 1990s.
“I would particularly like anyone who lived in Blemheim Close between the key dates of 1990 and 2005, who we haven’t already spoken to, to come forward and let us know what was going on there.
I would also like to appeal to anyone who knows what happened to William or Patricia, after they disappeared from their home in Forest Town in 1998, to call police.
“William would have turned 100 last year and Patricia would be 79. Do you know them? Have you seen or heard from them?
“If you have any information that may help our inquiry, no matter how small, and you have yet to speak to us, please phone us.”
Anyone with information is asked to contact the incident room on 0115 844 5012 or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111.
Murder probe launched - clickhere
Forensics key to investigation - clickhere