The Wengen Story
Myles Robinson – The Family’s Story
In the early hours of Tuesday 22nd December 2009, Myles disappeared from Wengen village. The family arrived in Wengen late on Sunday 20th December. On Monday, they took Myles to the ski shop to buy his Christmas present, his first ever pair of skis. For most of Monday, he was trying out different skis and he was back in his element skiing around the Mannlichen and Kleine Scheidegg.
On the Monday evening, they had a family dinner with two other friends. At around 10:30pm Cara and Myles left to go for a drink with friends. They first went to the Crystal Bar and later on to the Blue Monkey Bar. By all accounts Myles was in great form, playing pool and enjoying seeing his old Wengen friends, both locals and holidaymakers.
Cara left the bar at about 1.30am and said goodbye to Myles who decided to stay on chatting with friends. Myles was later seen on CCTV leaving the bar at 2.19am with friends and escorted Amy O’Brien back to her apartment building. Apparently they talked for 20-25 minutes on a bench outside the building. Amy then went inside and assumed Myles would be walking back to his apartment at the Hotel Eiger. Myles never returned.
On the Tuesday morning (22nd December) Michael, Sarah & Cara were surprised to see that Myles had not returned to the apartment. They tried his mobile phone to no avail. They contacted some of his friends, checked the local doctor and Interlaken Hospital, again to no avail. Then, at 11:30am, they decided to contact the police. There is no police force in Wengen itself, the local police are based in Lauterbrunnen in the valley below. Two policemen arrived in Wengen at 2.15pm, followed later by further police and 2 detectives. After some extensive questioning with both the family, Amy, and other friends who had been in the Blue Monkey on Monday evening, they started to mount a search. They arranged for a sniffer dog to be sent from Bern, a visual helicopter search, a mountain search and rescue team and a Swiss Army helicopter with an infra-red heat seeking camera. Nothing was found on the Tuesday evening searches. That day, many friends in Wengen had also arranged for posters of Myles to be put up all over the village as well as Lauterbrunnen and all villages as far as Interlaken.
On Wednesday morning, the story had been released by the police to local Swiss radio. The family gave their consent for this to also include written press. The family continued to help the detectives with possible footprints, bank withdrawals and visited the police station in Lauterbrunnen to identify a possible sighting of Myles in the car park, to no avail. A further visual helicopter and sniffer dog search was carried out that day. On Wednesday evening the local tourist office in Wengen printed new ‘Missing Person’ posters and a volunteer group of over 50 people distributed these across the village.
On Thursday morning, the story had broken in the Swiss press and it wasn’t long before the British newspapers picked up the story, the family were getting constant interview requests. They were encouraged to cooperate with the media to increase awareness of the issue and to hopefully put pressure on the Swiss authorities to step up the search. By all accounts the coverage in the British media was extensive.
On Christmas Day, the family did a television interview with a Swiss TV station. Myles’ toothbrush and razor were taken for DNA and his phone records were tracked through Vodafone. Michael and Sarah had to go to the police station in Lauterbrunnen to give DNA samples.
On Boxing Day, the family carried out further press interviews. A close friend of the family arranged for red ‘Find Myles’ ribbons to be worn by many people in Wengen village to keep up the awareness. The police were back in Wengen with sniffer dogs at both The Eiger and The Residence. The family felt sure that Myles would never have left the village, indeed it wouldn’t have been possible to do so as the only way up or down is by train and they do not operate in the early hours of the morning. They desperately wanted the Swiss police to search the village but the privacy laws in Switzerland prevent forcible entry into people’s homes unless there is evidence that a crime has been committed and there is reasonable suspicion to enter a particular house. The family employed a Swiss lawyer to increase pressure on the Swiss authorities.
On 27th December, some close friends of the family arranged for volunteer search parties to cover Wengen on a house to house search. The search had to respect Swiss law and the only way a house could be searched was if the owner gave consent. Over 70 people joined in this search operation. A well known physic from Bern also arrived to lend his help. He sat in Myles’ room and also on the bench where Myles had talked to Amy. The physic stated that ‘Myles did not leave with the intention of not coming back’, something the family had been sure of. He then had a strong feeling that Myles could be found in an area between the old Mannlichen cable car station and the swimming pool, and up the mountain for 200 metres. In gathering darkness, 10 or 12 people made an initial search of the area to no avail. Another search of the same area was arranged for 9.00am the next day.
On Monday 28th December, a bigger search party of some 30 people including some local guides searched the area, again to no avail. In the afternoon, more search parties started looking at other areas of village and surrounding areas. One party descended to the Lauterbrunnen valley. One member of the search party was an employee of Swisscom and had mapped out the triangulation of Myles’ last reported mobile phone use. The ‘footprint’ of the area included not only Wengen but also the valley below. This search party duly confirmed the family’s worst fear and found Myles’ body in a woodland area to the northern end of Lauterbrunnen.
The body was found in an extremely hazardous area. Four qualified personnel were sent to retrieve the body wearing helmets – boulders, rocks and ice were falling from the mountain above. The family were advised by the police that they could either identify the body in a tent they had erected in a field near where Myles was found, or they could go to the forensic department of the Bern University Hospital the next day, where Myles’ body would be better presented to the family and they would also learn the preliminary findings from the forensic doctor. This is the option they chose.
On Tuesday 29th December, they were driven to Bern by the police where they confirmed the body was indeed that of Myles. The forensic doctor informed them that no suspicious details were found on his body and all the injuries would be consistent with a long fall through wooded areas followed by a long drop. There was no evidence of any struggle with an attacker, skin under his fingernails etc. They returned to Wengen, a family distraught.
On Wednesday 30th December, the family were summoned by the police in Lauterbrunnen to give them the findings from their enquiries. The police informed them that on the evening on Tuesday 22nd December, the sniffer dog had picked up Myles’ trail from The Residence and this led to a lookout point called the Moenchsblick (somewhere that none of the family had ever been before). They accepted their explanation that they couldn’t have told them this at the time due to the dangerous terrain of the surrounding area. The lookout point is a good 20 minute walk out of the village in the opposite direction from the Robinson’s rented apartment. Myles’ scent apparently ran out at the lookout point and the police believe he would have started walking back to Wengen and then either took a wrong turn or fell into the steep sloping woods which then lead to the cliff face. The police assured the family that the surrounding area had been searched by the helicopters, but perhaps due to the extremely cold surroundings Myles was in, and the dense woodland area, they hadn’t been able to pick him up. Mountain rescue teams had not physically searched the area due to the potential dangers they could have faced. The family are extremely grateful to the search party that did find Myles. The police also reported that nowhere on the route to the lookout point did they find any evidence of a crime, a struggle, nothing. The police verdict is that this was a tragic accident.
On the afternoon of New Year’s Eve, the family held ‘A Candle for Myles’, in the English Church in Wengen, for all his friends in the village to come and light a candle and pray in his memory. There was an extremely overwhelming turnout of over 200 people.
On New Year ’s Day the family returned to London.
One question will always remain, why did Myles walk to the Moenchsblick that night?
But one fact will always be remembered: Myles loved Wengen and Wengen loved Myles.