Mystery of teenage mum feared murdered after leaving her 11-week-old baby behind

A teenager who vanished after leaving behind her 11-week-old baby has been presumed murdered – 16 years after she disappeared.

Natalie Putt was just 17 when she vanished without a trace in 2003.

The mum had told the father of her new baby she was going to the garage near her home in Dudley, West Midlands, but never returned.

Police searched lakes, graveyards and woodlands, but her body was never found.

Now, 16 years later, an inquest into her death heard how police believe she had been murdered, reports Wales Online .

The inquest concluded that she had most probably died on the day she was last seen.

Natalie's family were devastated by the hearing after remaining hopeful for 16 years.

Coroner Zafar Siddique said it was unclear how Natalie had died after hearing that two "tiny" spots of her blood were found on a T-shirt in her loft, Birmingham Live reported.

Now they are calling for her killer to be found.

Her sister Rebecca Coggins, 42, said: "For the last 15 years we believed that she had gone out to the shops and never returned. But that was obliterated at the inquest.

"The inquest itself said she had been murdered in her home. On her death certificate it has the date of death as September 1, 2003 and that she died at her home address.

"We were devastated. My legs buckled.

"I had a small hope that she would be out there with her own family – you have to create these images in your head.

"We have to believe that, that Natalie went to the shops and she was never seen again.

"Then we go to the coroner's court and we hear what the evidence is, and then it's that sicky, gut-wrenching realisation that she never went to the shops."

Rebecca added: "The devastation of hearing that Natalie had been murdered, I will never forget."

Natalie's former partner, Kevin McCallum, told an inquest in Oldbury in the West Midlands that the teenager went out to buy cigarettes and never returned, leaving him caring for their child.

He told the inquest he was aware that Natalie had started to see another man, Christopher Millard, after she told him she wanted a "break" from their relationship.

Under questioning from the coroner, Mr McCallum denied playing any part in Natalie's disappearance.

The businessman – who was questioned for three days in 2004 on suspicion of murder – also told the inquest that he had not argued with Natalie on the day she went missing.

Natalie's father, David Putt, told the inquest he returned home from working in Telford and found that his daughter's income support and family allowance vouchers were still at the property and had not been cashed.

David told the court: "My opinion is she would have taken the books.

"If I was going to do a runner I would have taken every penny I had got but she left everything there."

Detective Sergeant Angela Baggott, of the West Midlands Police homicide review team, said Natalie was believed to have taken a bank card from the property but had left her mobile phone and handbag at home.

Speaking about the police inquiry, she had said: "It's not closed. It's not a live investigation – as with all cold cases, they are reviewed periodically and any information that comes to the police will be acted upon."

Now the family are again urging anyone who knows what happened to come forward.

Rebeca said whoever is responsible is still out there, and that all she wants is to have her sister back.

She said: "The person responsible knows what they did on that day and they know where Natalie is and they know that pain.

"This is not something that you can just forget, or just put to the back of your mind.

"My main goal now is to find Natalie and lay her to rest."

When Natalie was last seen her young son was 11 weeks old. Rebecca said he is now almost 16.

She said: "There's a young man out there without his mum. Her family are without Natalie. We have nothing but those thoughts in our head of what happened to Natalie on that day.

"We will never, ever, ever give up searching for her. As long as I'm alive I will keep on.

"This is an ongoing investigation, it is not closed."

Rebecca travelled to Machynlleth, Powys on Monday on what would have been Natalie's 33rd birthday to lay a stone in her memory on their mother's grave.

Rebbeca said Natalie grew up in Machnylleth and later moved to England when she was around nine years old.

Some of her siblings still live in Wales, and Rebecca said it was always where Natalie wanted to return.

Rebecca said: "She would say 'one day I'm going back'. That was where her heart was."

Her sister described Natalie as "the funniest, most charismatic, nicest and most gentle" person.

She said: "Natalie could walk into any place and light it up. She could find the good in anyone.

"She didn't deserve what happened. She deserved to live her life until it came to a natural end."

Rebecca, who believes her sister's body is in Dudley, urged anyone with any information to contact the police or Crimestoppers.

Recording an open verdict at the end of the "highly unusual" inquest in January, the coroner said: "I am going to conclude the medical cause of death is unascertained.

"I don't know from the evidence and the circumstances how, sadly, she lost her life. I am satisfied that on the balance of probability Natalie is deceased.

"From extensive police inquiries it's not clear how she died but proof-of-life inquiries point to the fact she is now deceased.

"It's likely that she died at her home address or in the near vicinity on September 1st 2003."

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