The family of missing ex-Eastenders actor Sian Blake have said they “want answers” about why it took police nearly three weeks to find what are feared to be the bodies of her and her two sons.
One of Blake's aunts, who gave her name as Terry, told the London Evening Standard that relatives want "a full investigation". She said: "The police did take a long time to find the bodies and the family want answers. Officers are probably trying their best and we know it is difficult but we want a full investigation."
Scotland Yard has referred its handling of the case to the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) watchdog, amid questions over why it took so long to escalate the missing persons inquiry into the performer's disappearance. The force said: "The Metropolitan Police has today made a voluntary referral to the IPCC in relation to the Sian Blake missing person investigation. "An initial review has highlighted some potential issues regarding the handling and grading of the missing persons investigation."
Murder squad detectives are urgently trying to find Blake's boyfriend Arthur Simpson-Kent (48), who may have fled the UK after his family vanished. Scotland Yard would not confirm a report in the Sun thathe has fled to Africa, but a spokesman said: "Whether or not he is in the country is one line of inquiry."
Three unidentified bodies were found on Tuesday in the garden of the family home in Erith, Kent, that Blake (43) shared with her partner. The case had only been taken over by homicide detectives the previous day, and it remains unclear how many times officers had visited and searched the family home before the discovery was made. Scotland Yard’s internal professional standards team is already looking at the way the investigation was handled.
Blake vanished with her sons, Zachary (8) and Amon (4) in east London on December 13th. Three days later, Mr Simpson-Kent was interviewed by police at the family home, before he also disappeared. A family member reported the actor and her children missing that day, and two days later a missing persons inquiry was launched, but not classed as high risk.
The same day, December 18th, officers went back to the home in Erith, and forced their way in when there was no answer at the property. The investigation was classed as high risk at some point after Christmas.
Blake had motor neurone disease – a fatal, rapidly progressing disease which affects the brain and spinal cord – and was reportedly looking “very frail” before she vanished. She and her children were last seen in Waltham Forest, east London, and her silver-beige Renault Scenic was found in Calvert Avenue in Bethnal Green, east London, on January 3th, but it is not known who parked it there.
Previously an unknown actress, Blake’s big break came when she was introduced as soul singer Frankie in EastEnders in June 1996 by series producer Jane Harris. She was in the BBC soap for 56 episodes, reportedly quitting in 1997 because of hostility from viewers towards her manipulative character.
The performer, who later worked as a sign language tutor, also appeared in episodes of The Bill, Casualty, Doctors and Skins, and was the voice of Yugiri in 2015 video game Final Fantasy XIV: Heavensward.