Nine years after she was last seen alive, missing landfill worker Anna Evans has been declared legally dead.
The decision is a bittersweet milestone for Evans’ five children and her sister Noreen Dixon.
Though it is confirmation of the sad fact of her death, it means they can begin the process of administering her estate.
“The papers have come up now saying she is certified as dead and we have no choice but to accept it,” said Dixon, who raised Evans’ five children after her disappearance.
It still hurts that she may never find out how her sister died.
“We would like to know that. Somebody knows, but they haven’t come forward before, and I don’t think they will now. Let God judge them,” she said.
The declaration of death means Dixon can apply for probate to administer her sister’s estate. Evans’ possessions and finances – frozen since she went missing – could then go to her children.
It also opens up the potential for a lawsuit against government. Evans, 37, was working at the landfill when she was last seen and is presumed to have died on the job.
Whether her death was an accident or something more sinister remains a mystery.
Dixon filed a ‘protective writ’ against the Department of Environmental Health in 2017, which preserved the right to bring legal action once ‘letters of administration’ for Evans’ estate were obtained.
The writ includes a claim for damages as a result of the “loss/death of Anna Evans caused by a wrongful act, neglect or default of the defendant”.
Shelley White, a partner with Walkers law firm, which has helped the family through the process of having Evans declared legally deceased, said the option of pursuing the writ remained open to the family.
Dixon said she would leave it to Evans’ children to decide.
“It is up to them and I will support them whatever they do,” she said.
A sad development
White said the declaration of death was a “sad development” but one that the family had sought in order to help achieve closure.
“This is what we have been working towards,” she said.
“We now have an order from the Grand Court saying that Anna is deemed to have died on or around 27 Jan. 2011.”
She said the main impact of that would be to allow Evans’ children access to their mother’s bank accounts, pension and savings.
Walkers attorneys Sarah Gavin, Lucy Diggle and Thea Maitland began working with Dixon and Evans’ family on a pro-bono basis after reading their story in the Cayman Compass.
Obtaining a death certificate has been a long and complex process. White said Walkers would continue to help the family as they apply for letters of administration over Evans’ estate.
Dixon said she was happy to have reached this point.
“It has been a long, rough road, but we have had a lot of help from a lot of good people,” she added.
She said she had accepted that her sister was dead, despite the mystery surrounding her disappearance, but it had been more difficult for other members of the family.
“The kids don’t talk about it much, but they were traumatised,” she said.
“My mother is still in denial, that she may come back. My father pined away and died thinking about my sister and what happened to her.”
The family of Anna Evans will hold a memorial at Public Beach Monday, 27 Jan., to mark the ninth anniversary of her disappearance.
The event has been organised by Evans’ children.
“We want to keep her in our hearts and minds,” said Chelsea Evans, who was just 12 when her mother disappeared after a shift at the George Town landfill site on 27 Jan. 2011.
The memorial coincides with the recent decision of the Grand Court to declare Anna Evans as legally deceased. Though the timing of the declaration was a coincidence, Chelsea hopes the decision and the event will help the family gain closure.
She said it had been a long struggle since her mother’s disappearance.
“It took a piece of me,” she said. “I did not have the opportunity to have that mother-daughter time. I was robbed of that. I still feel that part of me will never be filled.”
Evans’ five children, Christopher, Celena, Chelsea, Cody and Cruz, were aged between 7 and 19 at the time of her disappearance.
Chelsea said it had been a few years since they had held any memorial for their mother and she decided to organise Monday’s event.
Three cabanas at Seven Mile Public Beach have been reserved for the memorial, which starts at 5pm. Guests are asked to wear purple, which was Evans’ favourite colour, and bring a candle.
There will be speeches and refreshments, plus a display of balloons as part of the event.