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Dateline Scotland

By Hiroko Sato


GROTON — Police Scotland continue to search for a former Groton resident who went missing there in May after a forensic test of items found in the area failed to yield any trace of the 61-year-old woman.

“It’s been difficult times,” Selectwoman Anna Eliot said of the search for her sister, Susan McLean, which has now entered the third month. McLean, of Monroe Township, Pa., disappeared on May 17 from near Moness resort in Aberfeldy, Perthshire, in Scotland while on a two-week trip with her husband, Donald, and two sons. She was reported missing when she failed to return to her room at the resort from an evening walk.

McLean was last seen on security camera walking by herself at about 7:45 p.m. that day. There was also a tip that someone matching McLean’s description was seen walking along Crieff Road at about 8 p.m., according to media reports. A massive initial search by land and air, involving mountain rescue teams with search dogs, produced nothing that could be linked to McLean, however.

Last Thursday, Police Scotland issued a statement on its website, saying it had conducted forensic examination of a dog collar and blanket that were reported to have blood on them. And, the testing “conclusively confirmed that there is no link to Susan McLean,” the statement said.

The testing on those items came nearly 10 weeks after a dog walker found what appeared to be fresh blood on her pet’s paws and head, according to a story published on July 28 on the website of a UK newspaper, The Courier. Police searched the area at that time but did not immediately follow up on the lead to test the blood, according to the article. In its online statement on Thursday, police said it received the information about the dog collar and blanket on July 23.

McLean’s family friend, Lorna VanderZanden, expressed her disbelief about police not acting on some leads quickly in The Courier’s article, calling it “serious gaps within the ranks of Police Scotland.”

Eliot said McLean’s husband and sons stayed in Scotland to search for Susan before coming home early in July. McLean’s family has been periodically updating Eliot on the search for her sister.

McLean grew up in Groton and spent several years in town while her husband was stationed at Fort Devens. Their children were still in elementary school, Eliot said.

Susan McLean is a horseback riding instructor and Donald McLean is a former Army veterinarian, according to The Patriot-News of Pennsylvania.

“She has quite a few friends in Groton,” Eliot said.

Eliot said the search for her sister is a difficult subject to talk about, but that she is growing frustrated with the lack of findings. She said she still hopes to find out what happened to her sister.

“We are all hoping that,” Eliot said of the possibility of McLean being found alive. “But, I also try to be realistic,” Eliot said.

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