Unsolved disappearance and death of Eastbourne student on stage

Jessie Earl ENGSUS00120120621101544
Jessie Earl ENGSUS00120120621101544

The unsolved mysterious disappearance and death of a student in Eastbourne more than 30 years ago is the subject of a play to be shown in the town in April.

In May 1980, 22 year-old Jessie Earl disappeared and her flat in Upperton Gardens left as if she’d just popped out for a moment. She became a missing person until nine years later when her body was discovered hidden in dense undergrowth on Beachy Head.

Someone, Somewhere is the story of the years of searching by her parents, Valerie and John and the nine years of waiting for Jessie to be found so her spirit could rest.

The new play mixes Jessie’s evocative diaries, interviews with Mr and Mrs Earl and poetic monologues based on Jessie’s other writings.

It is being brought to the stage by Green Room Productions with Sam Steer playing Jessie and actors James Hookway and Sandra Cheeseman playing her parents.

Sandra said the play is based on a radio production of the same name, written by Pat Davis.

She said, “With the blessing and support of Jessie’s parents, John and Valerie, we have been working closely with Pat to bring this award-winning radio production to the stage for the first time.

“It is a great honour for us to have the opportunity to tell Jessie’s story, in the town where she lived and was last seen almost 40 years ago.”

Jessie was an art student studying in Eastbourne at the time of her disappearance and despite a major police search, her body was not found until nine years later by council employee Gordon Cross and his daughter Lucy when the kite they were flying got caught in dense scrubland at Beachy Head.

It later emerged that Jessie had received a blow to the head and her killer had used her bra to tie her wrists together.

A cold case investigation failed to find any further clues as to her murderer’s identity.

Jessie’s parents are still campaigning to see the original open verdict recorded at an inquest in 1989 overturned.

The play is on from April 9 - 14 at the Lamb Theatre in the Lamb Inn and tickets are available at www.greenroomproductions.co.