A body believed to be that of Lee Bowman was this week found in the Thurcroft area of Rotherham, where the 44-year-old was last seen alive on October 31, 2021.
Tributes have been paid to the ‘devoted’ father, who had two daughters, aged 16 and 21 – but his grieving family have expressed their anger at South Yorkshire Police over the way the search was conducted.
They believe he died soon after going missing and his body could have been found sooner had police done more to look for him.
Corrina Bowman, his elder daughter, said: “He’d been lying there for nine weeks in the same village where he went missing, and his body was completely decomposed.
“The police hadn’t even searched for him. They closed the case three times due to possible sightings and we had to keep fighting to get it reopened.
“It’s disgusting. They should have searched for him properly from the day he was reported missing, but because they didn’t we’ve lost the chance to say goodbye to him properly, because his body’s decomposed so badly he’s unrecognisable.
“We knew something wasn’t right because he hadn’t touched the money in his bank account and he hadn’t once spoken to his parents, whom he used to call 10 times a day.
“He literally disappeared off the face of the Earth.”
Corrina said it is not yet known how her father died and she hopes a post-mortem examination will provide some answers.
Michael and Susan, Mr Bowman’s parents, also want to know why more was not done sooner to find him.
Michael said he took a call from South Yorkshire Police in mid-November saying his son had been seen on CCTV and the search had been called off, but when he asked to see the CCTV footage he was denied permission.
He said: “Lee was a lovely lad with a heart of gold, who idolised his kids. I don't know how he could have been lying there for 60-odd days. Something’s not right.”
South Yorkshire Police, which announced on Tuesday that a body had been found in the search for Mr Bowman, said: “We have made a referral to the Independent Office of Police Conduct regarding this matter so won’t be able to comment further at this time.”
Mr Bowman had first been reported missing a few days after he was last seen in Thurcroft, said his family.
South Yorkshire Police had issued a renewed appeal days after Christmas, saying there had been no confirmed sightings and that Lee was a ‘family man’ and for him not to have made contact with his family for two months was ‘very worrying’.
A fundraising appeal has been set up to help cover the cost of Mr Bowman’s funeral. To donate to help the family, visit bit.ly/3qUsZrE